BBC iPlayer on TVonics DTR-HV250

Having already tried to source a compatible USB WiFi adapter for use with my TVonics DTR-HV250, I was sceptical about ever sourcing one that would work since TVonics themselves stopped selling their own wireless adapter.  I’d read various claims on forms that people have got wireless networking up and running on their TVonics set top boxes, but never anything concrete… often referencing expired listings on eBay or out of stock items on Amazon.

When I saw that Pulse-Eight were selling USB WiFi adapters on their website, I was compelled to have another go, especially at the very reasonable price of £7.99 (including P&P)… far more reasonable than the £29.99 TVonics were charging some months ago. The Pulse Eight website makes no claims about compatibility with the DTR-HV250, only the DTR-Z500HD and the DTR-HD500, but I threw caution to the wind, ponied up the £7.99 and ordered one to try with my DTR-HV250. I ordered Thursday evening, and the package arrived through my door on Saturday morning, which is good service in my book!

The result is that, after some persistence, I am up and running with BBC iPlayer through the interactive services.  The iPlayer is fast and responsive, and when streamed using the ‘better quality’ option, the picture quality is indistinguishable from most broadcast channels to my eye.

The first couple of times I tried to configure the connection, the internet connection test failed, despite seeming to acquire an IP address according to the advanced settings.  I had to re-try the automatic configuration a couple of times before the connection test passed, and when it did, the iPlayer option appeared in the red button menu on all BBC channels.

Since spending a couple of days with iPlayer functionality, I have to report it isn’t perfect.  The red button menu is different once you’re connected to the internet, but it is with some randomness that the appropriate menu allowing access to iPlayer appears.  This may well be due to intermittent availability of a connection or the service itself, I don’t know.  All I can say is that normally my 40Mbps FTTC connection is rock-solid, so I’m sceptical that’s the cause. On other occasions, dropping into the iPlayer menu gives a black screen, and on one occasion I opened up the iPlayer interface fine, but the controls would do nothing.  It seems that a channel change helps with some of these problems, but I think it would be fair to say that the iPlayer experience falls short of the experience I’ve been used to with the DTR-HV250 in general.

All that said, I have to say I’m very happy to now have iPlayer available through my set top box… everything is controlled with one remote, there’s no switching inputs or waiting for programs to load.  I think once I’ve spent a bit more time with it, I’ll understand some of the quirks of the iPlayer a bit better, and hopefully I’ll be able to work around some of the issues.

Pulse Eight to the rescue!

Pulse Eight have extended their forums to include sections covering the TVonics products.  Specifically there’s a section for general TVonics discussion, then support sections for the DTR-Z500HD and the DTR-HD500.  The suggestion is that Pulse Eight won’t be offering support for other (earlier) TVonics models, including the DTR-HV250.  On the bright side, though, it’s been hinted that we might see firmware updates for the aforementioned HD models… we’ll wait and see what form that might take.

You can get to the Pulse Eight forums by following the link below:

You can post questions over at the Pulse Eight forums. I’ll be keeping an eye on the forums, and follow up on any subject matters that warrant it with blog posts here.

For us DTR-HV250 owners, it seems that this site will remain the one resource for information for now.

XBMC developer acquires TVonics IP

We learned today that Peterborough-based Pulse-Eight have bought the remains of TVonics.

This is potentially great news for all us existing TVonics owners, who have been left wondering where we stand with regards to software updates and ongoing support.  Of course, the article makes it clear that Pulse-Eight are in no way responsible for the burden of the existing customer base, but the very fact that someone has picked up the great work TVonics was doing is very encouraging, and I personally hope for great things to come from it.

The TVonics design philosophy, as it appears from the eyes of an on-looker, was a great one… well built, simple to operate yet entirely competent solutions to the PVR problem. While we all know that the TVonics range wasn’t without its problems, one can certainly say they were heading in the right direction.

I don’t know what plans Pulse-Eight have for the TVonics hardware, but I look forward to seeing how that plays out.  It seems Pulse-Eight aim to create a set top box based on XBMC (they are key contributors to the XBMC effort). XBMC is a great platform in its own right, but I’ve never been convinced it carries the necessary components to make a great PVR. I hate the idea that what I use to view free to air TV has to be separate to what I use to rent films or access on-demand services such as iPlayer, so the promise of a ‘YouView’ style solution to the problem is one of great interest.

Wireless Woes.

I was excited to learn that the DTR-HV250 and other TVonics products are iPlayer certified devices, I just need a suitable USB wireless adapter and I’m away.  Of course, when they were in business, TVonics offered an ‘approved’ USB wireless adapter for this very purpose, and others have been seen advertising on eBay and Amazon USB wireless adapters that are ‘compatible’ TVonics boxes.  Of course, in actual fact the approved and the compatible adapters were one and the same thing. Unfortunately though, neither seem to be available to purchase now.

Thinking I was being clever, I searched long and hard for a USB wireless adapter that appeared identical to the one offered by TVonics, and came up with this:

However, while the unit looks identical to the one offered by TVoncis, and carries a Ralink chip set, this one didn’t work.  I get the impression that the chip set supported by the DTR-HV250 has long fallen out of favour with manufacturers or isn’t available any longer, making compatible USB adapters rare.

I had an email from a guy called Bob the other day… it was mainly a thank-you for hosting the firmware files on this site than anything else (you’re welcome), but Bob was asking after instructions for accessing iPlayer from his DTR-Z500HD.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to help him with that, having failed to get the network adapter working on my own box (maybe someone could post a comment explaining) but I did quiz Bob on his apparent success using an after market adapter.  I gather from reading forums that there has been limited success elsewhere too, but the overall picture isn’t clear.

Anyway, Bob let me know that he purchased his USB wireless adapter from the eBay listing below:

… which appears to work with his DTR-Z500HD with the latest firmware.  There may be a case for building a compatibility matrix, which I would love to do.  If you’ve had success, please comment or contact me through the contact page with the details of your wireless adapter.  If you’re able to tell me the chip set too, that would be a great help.

New remote codes page.

A page is now available with all of the remote codes from the TVOnics pdf file uploaded to this site by Andrew B. Thanks Andrew!

Upload your tvonics files.

A number of people have offered to share their TVOnics downloads on this site. I will happily host software updates, user manuals and anything else TVOnics related on this site.

You can upload your files using this site’s FTP server. You can access FTP using the following details:

Username: soapdramaupload
Password: 50apdrama

You will need an FTP client to upload files. I recommend Filezilla. Once you have uploaded your files, send me a message through the contact form, and I’ll put the files on the download page. down!

Today I learned that the has been taken down, presumably as a consequence of the company calling in the administrators earlier this year.

For those of us who own TVonics set top boxes, the hope of future software updates pretty much disappeard when the company went into administration, but the website still carried some useful materials – user manuals, remote codes, previous software versions and change logs.

The aim of this site is to collate all TVOnics related information in one place.  I have a small amount of information that I downloaded for my own benefit from the site, but I need your help to collate the rest.  Please send me your downloads, and I’ll happily host them here for the convenience of other TVOnics owners.