Friday, April 14, 2006

StarHub - Smart TV Digital Set Top Box Update

It has been a month since I took delivery of StarHub's new Smart TV digital set top box (STB). My original review is here. The experience over that time has not been satisfactory.

Where to start? Perceptible synchronization problems between audio and video. Heavy pixelization and digital artifacts, random picture breakups, complete crashes of the STB on an almost daily basis, failed recordings, inability to fast forward without losing synchronization, perceptible lag when changing channels.

I was astonished to read the positive review that appeared in the Straits Times Digital Life supplement. OK, not astonished, StarHub is a major advertiser of theirs, and the chances of a negative review were exactly zero. But come on.

Seeing other reviews that don't mention problems, I decided to call StarHub and ask to have my box replaced. The tech immediately agreed and scheduled an appointment. When the installer showed up at my flat, he was reluctant to do the swap. His point was that it would make no difference because the problems were not in the hardware. I insisted that the swap take place anyway, and fired up the new box.

Same problems.

Looking at the firmware revision number, 1.6, it is clear that no new release of software has been made in the last 30 days. I don't mind being a beta tester, but there is something wrong with this picture.

I am paying for hardware that doesn't deliver the service for which it is designed. There is no feedback mechanism to communicate with the beta program engineers other than going through normal 1633 customer disservice. Anyone using the box for more than an hour and exercising its functions would see that it was not ready for release.

My question to StarHub is "Why was this product released to customers?"


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Anonymous said...


I have an early Smart TV box too, and have seen the same problems about audio visual sync.

I happen to know the people at StarHub on the project and spoke to them about it. They know about this problem and are working round the clock to finish, QA and release a new firmware release that will fix this (and some of the other glitches)

Firmware v1.7 is due out soon, and will automatically downloaded to all Smart TVs. All you will have to do is turn it off, then on to install the new version.

My take is that apart from this early stage teething problem, Smart TV is a huge step forward from the PVR I had before. Mainly because of the integration with the on screen program guide - and because I can program it to record different channels at different times (you cant with other PVRs)


Waleed Hanafi said...

Thanks for the information. While I believe that a software update might improve the performance of the box, my point remains that it should never have been released to the paying public. None of the problems require a public trial to discover, they are obvious within minutes of trying to use the thing.