And they’re back…

In a previous blog post I mentioned the issues I was having with my new Sony Smart TV.

After getting a response from BBC iPlayer on the Twitter.

I checked the TV to find my UK apps were back.

And they're back

It was apparent that the problem was not with the TV in itself, but with the services provided by Sony. It does demonstrate the reliance that these kinds of devices have on external services. If the decision is made to switch them off, there is very little that the end consumer can do to stop this from happening. Additionally the closed nature of these devices means that you can’t (or if you can not easily) add these services back.

So where did iPlayer go on my Sony TV?

Sony Smart TV

It would appear that many Smart Sony TVs have lost their UK apps. I initially thought I was just unlucky, but it would appear from the internet tubes that many others have found that their Smart Sony TVs have lost their UK based apps, including BBC iPlayer, Amazon Player and Sky News apps.

Having recently replaced my TV, one of the reasons I chose the Sony KDL48W605 was the fact that it was a Smart TV and came with BBC iPlayer integrated into the TV. This means we can easily watch catch-up TV. Was slightly disappointed that there was no integrated ITVPlayer or Channel 4’s 4OD, though there is (was) Five on Demand. According to Sony this was down to licensing rights issues, less from ITV and Channel 4, but more from the rights holders of the programmes they show.

The apps on the TV are dependent on regional settings, and if you are based in the UK, then you get UK focused apps. It would appear that the server which delivers the various apps to the TV has failed to recognise those TV that are in the UK and as a result is not delivering the localised UK apps to them.

My initial thought was that only my TV was having a problem. My first few searches on Google only turned up Sony BBC iPlayer issues from 2011. I followed the guidance to refresh internet content to no avail, I then undertook a factory reset, retuned, etc and still no luck.

It was only after browsing the Sony support forums that I found other people were having issues, and the problem was been had by multiple different Sony TVs.

At the time of writing it would appear that Sony have been made aware of the issue on Friday, but as it was a bank holiday weekend, nothing so far has been done.

No magic with BBC iPlayer

No magic with BBC iPlayer

I know many people out there have no sympathy for me now that I have lost access to fibre (through FTTC) and have reverted back to a relatively much slower ADSL connection when I moved house. I am aware that much of the UK population only have similar broadband speeds.

However I do think it is interesting to note the problems I am having, it has certainly made me much more aware of the advantages of FTTC over ADSL and the need to speed up all of the UK (not just my neck of the woods).

The other evening I sat down to watch Merlin on BBC iPlayer and it was stuttering like crazy… My Sony TV has internet capability and BBC iPlayer is accessible from the user interface without needing to use a laptop or iPad. I was slightly surprised as I had recently moved a few things around and connected the TV direct to my router. Previously I had used wifi to connect the TV to the internet and this had proved unreliable; when I had FTTC, it had worked fine over wifi. When I did a direct wired connection this appeared at the time to resolve those buffering issues.

I tried again, and once more it didn’t work…

I thought about it, checked upstairs and found that my son was streaming BBC iPlayer on his computer at the same time.

It was apparent that though my ADSL connection was fast enough for BBC iPlayer, it couldn’t cope with two streams at the same time. When I had the FTTC connection, it coped fine with higher quality BBC iPlayer streams, and streaming two programmes (and doing other stuff on the web as well) was all fine and dandy.

So we waited until my son’s programme had finished and then we watched Merlin.

What this incident made me realise was that the real advantage of FTTC wasn’t so much the speed of the connection, but the width. I find on ADSL that I can cope with waiting for things to download, but what I really miss about FTTC is the ability to use the full capacity of the fibre “tube” to do lots of different things all at once. Now with ADSL I need to schedule streaming and downloads to ensure that, not only do they work, but also to not inconvenience others in the house.

So is FTTC anywhere on the horizon for me? Not that I can see, which is a real pity.

Tech Stuff – Top Ten Posts of 2011

Here are the top ten blog posts (by views) for 2011.

10. Joikuspot s60 limitation

This blog post which described a major limitation with Jokuspot on the Nokia N95 was the principle reason I bought a MiFi.

9. No joy with Sony PSP and JoikuSpot Premium

This was quite an old post, from nearly three years ago, when my primary method for mobile internet was using Joikuspot on a Nokia N95. Since then I have used a MiFi and now in the main use the portable wireless hotspot on a Google Nexus One.

8. Insufficient Bandwidth

This post described how a problem with my FTTC was causing me to have issues with iPlayer streams. I think in the end it was more of an issue with BBC iPlayer than an issue with my internet connection.

7. New Sony Tablets, the Tablet S

In this blog post I was looking forward to the new Sony Tablet. Having now seen the Tablet for real I am slightly disappointed. It didn’t feel like a Sony product and seemed overpriced for what it was.

6. Instagram on the Desktop

My sixth most popular post looked at a couple of Mac apps that allowed you to view Instagram images on your desktop. I really like Instagram, but sometimes feel disadvantaged when I want to see a feed of Instagram images on my Mac.

5. ITV Player and 4OD on the PS3

An update to the PS3 provided access to the watch again services from ITV and Channel 4.

4. iPhone Portable Wifi Hotspot

Back in January Apple announced a new feature for the iPhone, that allowed you to turn it into a portable wifi hotspot, something I had been doing for a while using my Froyo Google Nexus One.

3. I don’t like BT FON

My third most popular post was a rant about BT FON, well actually it wasn’t a rant about BT FON itself, it was rant that BT routers configured for BT FON also broadcast a BT Openzone SSID which wasn’t a real BT Openzone and so as a result my iPhone (which has free access to BT Openzone) couldn’t use it.

2. BT Openzone-H

This post was a follow on to my BT FON rant, it was apparent that BT were aware of the problem I discussed and are in the process of changing the settings on the BT Homehubs so that instead of broadcasting the BT Openzone SSID they have renamed it to BT Openzone-H. I should say that though I posted this in July, here nearly six months later my neighbour’s BT HomeHub is still broadcasting BT Openzone and not the new Openzone-H.

1. Live BBC TV on the iPad

My most popular post was not really a post more of an addendum to another post reviewing the BBC iPlayer app for the iPad.

The addendum mentioned that the main advantage of the app over the web interface was that you could access live TV through the app.

Touching the Tablet

Managed to get a hands on with the new Sony Tablet S. In my recent blog post on the new Sony Tablet I said:

I do quite like the look of the Sony Tablet S, I do like Sony stuff and if I was at this time choosing a tablet, I would be giving serious consideration to this new Sony Tablet. The price is similar (from £399) and that probably is now what will hold this tablet back, if it had been released at the same time as the original iPad it would have been a serious contender.

I couldn’t really give the Tablet S a proper hands on, as there was no real apps on there, no content (apart from an optimised demo) and no internet access. Why can’t retailers selling tablets take a leaf out of Apple’s book and provide internet access for their tablets so that prospective customers can actually try out the tablets properly? Oh I know because they don’t want people to use them for internet stuff…. Of course if they did, then they might in the end and try and buy one!

Back to the Tablet S, the touchscreen was quite responsive and I did quite like the interface. I was less sure though about the form factor. Whereas most tablets rely on a case to slant the screen if you are using the tablet on a desk or table, the Sony Tablet S has a slant built in. It felt as a result quite thick and clunky in the hand, suspect it might be better placed on a desk or table. I didn’t feel in my hands that this was a quality product, certainly not what I anticipated from Sony.

At the end of the day I won’t be spending £399 on a tablet that in my mind isn’t an iPad. I know that sounds like an Apple fanboy statement, but as the HP TouchPad shows, people aren’t willing to choose alternative tablets which are the same price as the iPad, but are willing to try something different if the price is right. I am sure given the choice most people will choose the iPad, not because it is better, but merely because people perceive it to be better.

I am expecting Sony to reduce the price of their new Tablets in less than a year, that isn’t unprecedented, they did it with their innovative UX1XN and other devices, so I may be tempted then.