4DTV: The Honeymoon is Over!! Growing pains for the first hybrid analog-ditital receiver!!

> 4DTV: The honeymoon is over!!!
> Lionel Remigio
> As of June 11 some dealers in the United States were ready to
> receive the first hybrid analog-digital receiver in the world.
> The unit, following initial " secret names" or nicknames like
> Ovation first, and later Triple Play ( able to receive 3
> different signals : analog, videocipher and digital) was finally
> released to the general market under the final name 4DTV.
> Expectatives were great. Every single dealer in the states was
> begging for one unit for testing purposes but at the beginning,
> General Instrument ( now Next Level of Delaware) was unable
> to ship so many units and receivers were in the distribution
> line in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico.
> In middle July, Next Level finally was able to supply the
> product and after many receivers sold, the public reaction was
> polarized between people who love the product and other that
> hate it. And for those who already bought the receiver,
> reactions are mixed between people that spend a lot of money
> ( initial cost was $800-950) for nothing. Other customers are
>  complaining because 2 months after the receiver release
> to the market, they can get any new programming or channels
> as promised. Ending August and after many promises and datelines
> the only channels available for 4DTV are 11 HBO's and 6
> Cinemax feeds in Galaxy 1 plus 40 Music Choice channels
> in the Satcom C3 ( F3) satellite. Nothing less....nothing more.
> Next Level and distributors told to dealers that sometime
> around July 1st, other subscriptions channels would be
> available for 4DTV. Showtime, The Movies Channel, Flix
> and Sundance were supposed to be ready for subscriptions
> in 4DTV and this....never happened. After 2 months 4DTV
> is a receiver good only for receiving the same analog
> services in the clear, subscription channels ( Videocipher)
> and 11 HBO's plus 6 Cinemax feeds and 40 Music Choice
> channels and......all this for a good amount of money close
> to the $1000.00  What this mean ? Well....you guess right!!
> Your spent $850-950 only to get ONLY 17 digital video channels
> and 40 music channels. Correct!!!
> But 4DTV presents an array of problems ( technical issues)
> that need to be addressed as soon as possible. A big percentage
> of customers are getting a less that satisfactory digital
> signal for the ONLY digital services available. We are talking
> about HBO and Cinemax channels. HBO's primary customers are
> commercial headends with big dishes and they have a very decent
> signal. 4DTV users living in southeast areas ( Florida state
> for example) are getting a very bad signal using a 10 feet dish
> that is good enough to do the job getting the best analog ( clear)
> and Videocipher channels for all the satellites in the american
> domestic arc. 99% of these services have a very good picture
> using a 10' dish.
> What this means to the consumer user is there's not a lot of
> margin in HBO-Cinemax signal. This fact gave us some ideas and
> we conducted a very easy test to find out that threshold for
> 4DTV is higher that commercial units using the same Digicipher
> 2 technology. For the testing we used DSR-4400 and DSR-4200V
> and both units gave us a decent picture using the same antenna
> and LNB. When  the same set up was connected to the 4DTV we got
> a lot of picture tiling ( tiling is for digital what sparkles
> are for analog reception).
> Other problem for HBO is that power in particular varies from
> transponder to transponder. We can get a good picture in
> channel 100( transponder 23) but impossible to get a decent
> picture for channel 101 ( transponder 18). Talking in 4DTV
> numbers, channel 100 give us a quality signal reading of 22
> and the same quality reading number for transponder 101 is
> 12. Ten points difference from one transponder to other!!!
> But we can find more technical issued to be addressed. We
> can call it more growing pains at this time. If for some
> reason the electricity fails, 4DTV will lost all his memory
> and you need to go back to Galaxy 9 to load the software
> with the IPG ( Interactive Program Guide). And you must
> turn ON yourself the receiver and go back to the channel
> you where watching. Yes...your guessing is correct!!
> 4DTV has a volatile memory and is unable to recover original
> setting after a power failure.
> And there is more. If you need to set some audio settings,
> you can't save those audio settings to 4DTV's memory.
> At the present time 4DTV sales are in a big slowdown.
> Distributors are not selling the unit to dealers and
> dealers are not selling units to end users. Why ?
> Well...because after to many months 4DTV has nothing to
> offer and is still plagued  with a lot of unsolved problems.
> Other big problem was:
> Originally, Next Level organized a dealer's network. Seminars
> and meetings were a common ground where all dealers receive
> some training, information and product acknowledgment for
> the soon to be released unit.
> The main ( and biggest) distributors in the United States,
> Consumer Satellite Systems ( CSS),Diamond Pacific and DSI would
> be the main providers to dealers and according to all plans,
> meetings and seminars, 4DTV would be available only through
> the authorized dealers. But few days after the released to the
> market, one "big player" willing to make easy and fast money
> drop the prices and sold 100's of units to a non-authorized
> dealer in Miami, Florida state ( USA) and the 4DTV prostitution
> already begun. War prices,dropping prices, units unable to be
> activated for the non authorized dealer, became a common problem
> for the market and distributors who stick with the original
> marketing plan. Many customers unable to activate the IPG and
> the HBO channels became frustrated and the potential customers
> who knew about the 4DTV problems, lost all confidence in the product.
> After many days, weeks, hundreds of nasty phone calls and empty
> promises high executives at Next Level answered giving excuses that
> " we are coming with a solution"...." we are fixing the problem"
> but the only true is....4DTV sales are down. The product is not a hot
> selling item anymore  and sales numbers are the best kept secret for
> Next Level executives who don't make any comments.
> To make the situation worse, dealers are not stocking more units.
> They ( dealers) prefer to order the unit from a Distributor when
> they have a closed sale. In the beginning was a common thing to
> find dealer with 20 or more units in stock. But that..belong to the
> past and is not going to happen anymore with all the growing pains
> that still unsolved.
> Some analyst said that 4DTV will end the same way as the DBS stuff
> in the United States. No support for dealers. Every consumer store
> will
> be carrying the unit ( some rumors said that Radio Shack stores will
> be selling the unit in the next fall), and profit margins very low
> for dealers who will be switching to any other more profitable product
> in the market where they can make some decent money.
> Somebody wrote in a magazine a few months ago....."Anyone desiring
> to beam a spotlight in the satellite business market, better be quick
> and agile because the performers move fast and in unexpected ways.
> I think that Next Level is not going to be the exemption of this
> " rule". If they don't make a fast move......the only lifesaver
> for C band in United States can disappear and after that.....
> The last one leaving the band.....please....pick up the flag!!

Lionel Remigio

This article would be posted in spanish also.

[Other mailing lists|Sponsored by TELE-satellit]