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:
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.