A couple of months back I decided to buy a new PVR (personal video recorder). The one we have is for satellite only, low resolution, we can’t get Prime on it and so on.
So I got a Hyundai decoder from the Freeview Shop, which is an online shop selling under the Freeview brand. I assume they have a contract with the government to do so.
Under options I got a HDMI cable and a 100GB hard drive. Until I got the unit, I assumed this was a hard drive inside the unit i.e. builit in. But it turns out it’s a separate, bog standard hard drive (like the ones you buy at an appliance store) that connects via a USB cable. I complained about this but was assured it would work fine.
So I set up the unit and tried recording tv. What I’ve done in the past is just started recording on my Panasonic dvd (via the old satellite receiver) and then come back later and watched tv via this recording so that I can zoom through the ads.
So i thought a single unit that receives the signal and does the recording would be so much easier. You could theoretically record via the built in programme guide and so on.
The Hyundai decoder doesn’t allow you to record a programme and then watch it delayed but then keep that recording also. You have 2 options, either record a programme in full, and watch it some time after it has entirely finished. Or you use Timeshift, so you can start Timeshift, press pause and then come back later to start watching, you can go backwards and forwards, zoom past ads etc. But once you press ‘stop’ on the Timeshift function, the recording is removed.
But the Timeshift function simply doesn’t work reliably. I get these faults:
- Playback stutters.
- Video and audio are out of sync so for instance people’s mouths move at different times to the audio of their speech.
- When you press pause, it doesn’t always pause. You sometimes have to press it several times to get Timeshift to pause. Sometimes Timeshift completely craps out at this point and you have to stop Timeshift and restart it, losing the bit you thought you had recorded.
- You fast forward (through some ads say) and then press play and it hangs. Again, you have to restart Timeshift, missing anything you have recorded.
- When you first start Timeshift and press pause, you get a little bit of your last Timeshift recording session.
- You start Timeshift and then it just kinda seems to not be going. So I press Timeshift again, and it starts up… mysterious.
- And a bunch of less common things which I can’t remember.
So all in all it’s just really flaky. It’ll work fine for say 15 mins and then crap out for no reason.
Other issues I’ve had with this unit:
- The programme guide is really unreliable and slow. It will often show details of programmes on a Friday (if it is Friday) but then only show a couple of those, and then programmes on Sunday, skipping the rest of Friday and all of Saturday. This is in a list so you think you are looking at the programmes on Friday night, but you’re not.
- If you change channels quite quickly, especially to a channel that has bad reception – we have some terrestrial ones like that – the unit will completely lock up and the only cure is to turn it off and then back on again.
So anyway, I wanted to return this item. Lars Wahlmann who is a director at Webretail Limited, the company that runs Freeview Shop, said to return the unit and they’d test it. He said to return the unit only, not the hard drive, remote or anything else.
So I did return it. At a small cost of $13.20. They’re in Queenstown for crying out loud. What a place to run an online shop in NZ from!
We then flew out to Toronto. I didn’t hear back via email so I asked Lars where it was. he said they hadn’t received it. So I got my mum and dad to go to my house, find the postage receipt with the tracking number on it and send the number to me. I plugged it into the NZ Post website and it said it had been delivered. I emailed Lars with this. He said “Oh that one, we didn’t know who’s it was, so we sent it off to a different customer”. I found this pretty amazing: 1) That they would receive a unit and then tell me they haven’t received one, 2) They would send a used one that someone has said is faulty out to a customer.
He then said via email that he’d get it back off the customer, test it and get back to me. I heard nothing so emailed for an update. He said he couldn’t get it back so he’d send me a new one. A ‘new’ unit arrived (I took him at his word that it was a new one), I set it up, and then proceeded to get all the same problems!
So I emailed Lars to tell him this, who responded that they’ve never had anyone else complain about these units. I’ve heard this before about various products, and then you go online and find heaps of negative reviews about problems with products.
So anyway, after more use and more problems Iasked Lars via email if he could recommend another unit. I was thinking I’d pay a bit more money and get a better unit. He didn’t reply.
So then I told Lars via email I wanted to send the whole lot back, and that I expected a refund for the unit, the hard drive and the postage costs etc. There was a bit more conversation to this (I told him his service was unsatisfactory) but in the end I said that either he gave me a full refund or I’d take him to the Disputes Tribunal. He said he wouldn’t agree to a refund which I find amazing. Who doesn’t give refunds for products these days? At somewhere like JB HiFi I can take an item back and they’ll replace or refund my money no questions asked.
So anyway I’m lodging a form with the Disputes Tribunal tonight. What else can I do? I either have to put up with a defective unit, or take them to the Disputes Tribunal. And I’m not prepared to do the former.
So be very very careful in your dealings with Freeview Shop – they will not provide refunds for defective products. And Lars Wahlmann’s service is hopeless.