Panasonic statement on GuidePlus

My review of the Panasonic DMR-XW380 Freeview HD DVD recorder has just been published on RegHardware. And, just as predictably, there have been quite a few comments already about one of the most noticeable aspects of Panasonic’s Freeview products – the GuidePlus EPG.

For those who aren’t familiar, this is what you see when you press the Guide button:

Taken from the FreeviewHD recorder, but the Panasonic TVs also have those adverts in their guide

Not exactly a thing of beauty, is it? And, as many people point out, the Panasonic kit isn’t exactly cheap, either. So, you pay a lot – £550 in the case of the recorder – and you still have to look at adverts when you see what’s on telly.

So, I asked Panasonic for a statement. Here’s their official line:

As with all customer feedback, we take your listener’s views on board.  Panasonic, along with other leading consumer electronics manufacturers took the decision to implement the Guide Plus Programme guide on our range of TVs and recorders.  The EPG offers enhanced features to consumers, e.g. in the UK, the Radio Times provide editorial highlights selecting recommended programmes from their TV schedule and these are highlighted on the Guide.

Advertising is not new on information services, for example, on PCs, it is common for many web related services to have advertising on them.

As mentioned, we have taken your listener’s comments on board and as we value what our customers say, as part of our continuous product improvement we will look at illustrating the benefits of the EPG in our next publicity materials (catalogues, online tec.), as well as highlighting the advertising content more comprehensively in the instruction manuals.

Now, firstly, that looks to me like it was originally written in response to a question from a radio station, which would account for the references to listeners. And the suggestion of illustrating the benefits of the EPG is interesting. It sort of says “if only we explain this better, people will understand why we did it, and come to love it.”

I’m afraid they won’t. And I’m frankly amazed that Freeview are happy to have kit like this bearing the FreeviewHD logo, which also has to appear in the guide – their logo could be on screen with adverts over which they have no control.

There is, of course, another issue which is what happens if the GuidePlus service ever goes away? Will the box continue to work just fine? I suspect the answer is yes, because it seems to be using the Freeview triggers for series links and recording start/stop. But in light of the 4TV affair, I shall double check with Panasonic.

And I shall, of course, continue to remind them that it’s a very annoying thing to put in an EPG. Even if you explain the merits to me, I’d still not be happy about having adverts on there, and judging by the comments, every time a Panasonic product with GuidePlus is reviewed, nor are many other customers.

So please, Panasonic. Drop GuidePlus. It’s horrible, ugly, intrusive and puts a lot of people off your Freeview kit.

25 thoughts on “Panasonic statement on GuidePlus

  1. Panasonic is a great company. If they want to reduce themselves into the trash heap then let them do it. We can vote with our pockets.

    Just don’t buy that over-prices nasty equipment !!!

  2. Trouble is they use the same Guideplus system on all (AFAIK) Plasma TVs which aren’t ‘overpriced nasty equipment’

  3. What I really object to with GuidePlus is the real estate it takes up on screen reducing the size of the EPG. I have two Panasonic TVs, a 19″ LCD and a 50″ Freeview HD Plasma and both require them to be left on standby overnight to populate the GuidePlus data. Since I gave up leaving such equipment on standby a good few years back, neither of them have ever loaded any GuidePlus data nor (thankfully) any ads. So I find myself using two TVs that work fine with the standard Freeview EPG but which still insist on displaying an empty box where GuidePlus ads would be.

    Panasonic, please give me an option in the next firmware update to disable GuidePlus completely that will give me a full width standard Freeview EPG. If I want the RadioTimes data via GuidePlus then I’m happy to have that paid for by (and see) the ads, but at least give me the choice to just have a no-ads, full width, standard Freeview EPG option.

    Oh, and while I’m on the subject of firmware upgrades, thanks for enabling the iPlayer Beta but when are you going to implement Freeview HD AAC transcoding to Dolby Digital?

    1. According to my sources at Panasonic, none of this year’s (2010) TV sets will do AAC->Dolby transcoding, as the silicon that they’re based on isn’t capable of performing the task. Panasonic tells me that, at the time the decision was made to use AAC for everything, they’d already selected the chipsets to be used for this year’s models, and it wasn’t possible to alter that.

  4. Nigel, that’s a shame about the 2010 range, but secretly as I suspected. It’s why I tend to watch BBC HD and ITV1 HD (although rarely) off freesat rather than Freeview HD.

    The other thing that bugs me with the Panasonic EPG is the way it de-tunes the current station when you launch it. I at least want to hear the audio from the current tuned channel while I’m looking at the EPG (as the wonderful Toppy allows). And for a fully populated GuidePlus EPG, if it has loaded and cached data then there shouldn’t be any need for it to grab the tuner whilst displaying that data.

  5. I have just purchased a TX-P42V20B Plasma TV. I am very impressed with it except for the guideplus+ system on Freeview. The inability to disable adverts is a shocking omission but perhaps there is a financial reason why Panasonic have not given such an option. Had I realised this at the outset I would not have purchased an otherwise excellent TV.

    The 4TV debacle is a warning about what could happen in the future.

    Having had my fingers burnt over this I will not be purchasing further Panasonic equipment containing Guideplus.

    1. They may not have adverts in the EPG, but they’re not perfect, either – for example, the DLNA format support is extremely poor on some Sony models – you can’t even play back DivX video via the network.

  6. Last years Sony TV range had GuidePlus on them set as default.
    But it is possible to change it to the normal Freeview EPG via the menu. They gives the consumer a choice. Do tha Panasonics have this option. If not, they should implement it as an over-the-air update.

  7. The comment about “…what happens if the GuidePlus service ever goes away?” Well it will be for many older recorders such as mine. The EPG signal will be cut as of 1st Jan 2011 as it is received through ITV1 analogue.

    Many recorders have no possibility of taking the Freeview EPG as it is not included, or to change the source of GuidePlus signal. You are left with manual recording only.

    This experience will put me off buying a Panasonic TV or recorder.

  8. have just purchased a Panasonic TX-L37V10B TV. I am very impressed with it except for the guideplus+ system on Freeview. The inability to disable adverts .Which i find so annoying , Had I realised this
    I would not have panasonic

  9. Email to panasonic customer care

    Dear Sir
    I have purchased a panasonic LCD TV TX-L37V10B from John Lewis, Would you
    please tell me how I can remove the adverts on my EPG guide and the radio
    times Which i find so annoying Thank You.

    ISSUE RESOLUTION: Dear Mr Twigger,

    Thank you for your e-mail enquiry.

    Our R&D groups for the specific product areas decided to use the “Gemstar” software platform for the Panasonic EPG system. This platform has, as you have indicated, an advertisement area within the navigation menu. Regrettably, this advertisement area cannot be disabled or suppressed on the software version used on the Panasonic products. We have, however, recorded your comments about this facility and will be forwarding this to our R&D groups and Gemstar for their information

    We trust that the above information will be of assistance to you. However, of course, if you should have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0844 844 3852 or email us using the following email address:

    customer.care@panasonic.co.uk

  10. Sounds like it’s time for some enterprising hacker to tinker with the firmware.
    It’s not as if that doesn’t happen all the time with computers – the BIOS on my laptop has been patched so it won’t baulk at non-IBM WiFi cards, for example.

  11. I was just about to buy a 37″ Panasonic, then remembered the problem of adverts on the EPG.

    I find this very irritating on my parents LCD TV, so I shall have to choose another brand now.

    Panasonic have this habit of introducing irritating little features to otherwise good products. A fine example is the electronic circuit they just added to their camera batteries, which makes it difficult to buy a sensibly priced non Panasonic spare battery.

  12. Due to these reviews, we have chosen not ot buy this product. The advertising would drive me insane. Poor show Panasonic. And thank you reviewers

  13. Because I only have 19 inch screen in the bedroom ,now the guide is smaller becuase of these wretched adverts i cannot read it from a distance this would not be a problem with the guide on full screen like it is on my larger panasonic tvs’ am frustrated to see it cannot be disabled would not have bought had i known

  14. I had the same standard response from Panacronic.

    My dad, has the small screen large advert issue as well after getting a Pan HHD recorder. It was ‘the worst decision he has ever made’ to buy a Panacronic.

    They don’t give a monkeys either, my advice, buy Sony.

  15. My panasonic epg just shows two grey boxes where others see adverts. Is this something panasonic have recently changed? I’d much prefer to see vision and audio from the currently tuned channel. Every other epg system ive used does this so when I bought my 3D telly and derided to go for panasonic I’m annoyed to find two grey boxes instead of current channel. But at least it’s not showing adverts 🙂

  16. I’m attempting to investigate this from a data protection angle. I’m right in thinking that you have to provide some information before the adverts are activated? Well if this information constitutes personal data then it’s likely that the adverts will constitute direct marketing – they’re being delivered to you as an individual. Section 11 of the DPA98 entitles an individual to opt-out of direct marketing delivered ‘by whatever means’.

    Getting a response of out Panasonic isn’t easy though, they came back to me with a very simple reply stating that they don’t serve the adverts but I’m still waiting for them to clarify who the data controller is for the adverts.

  17. Guess what happenef to me when I wrote to Panasonic about Gemstar this month. They wrote back with exactly the same response as Barry.Twigger. 10 months after they sent him the response I get the same robbing off reply. One less Panasonic customer.

  18. I wanted to buy a Panasonic recorder this week and the one factor that stopped me was the rubbish GuidePlus+ system.
    It’s something I would expect on a cheap supermarket branded recorder, not an expensive one. Rubbish indeed.

  19. I have Panasonic plasma with freeview and freesat
    The freeview EPG is dominated by the huge ad space

    I won’t ever buy a set again without checking the EPG and for me Panasonic are now off the radar for future purchases.
    How dumb can they get ??

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