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3892 posts

Uber Geek

  # 542300 7-Nov-2011 23:17
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Well I'm kind of pissed to put it mildly. I along with 4 or 5 others was taken for a tour of the Telstra facility and we discussed the issues with Gary and his folk. I really thought they were pulling out all of the stops to get the Tbox working as it should. We were shown an updated version of the firmware that was running at the sort of speed it should have. We were also told that they were doing what they could to get it out before the RWC. Instead they released the additional features firmware and not the performance update. So I was hoping that the performance update would be released just after the RWC. Instead we are realistically looking at another 3-6 months.

And to top it off, my T-box had died tonight and failed to record Mad Dogs.

Well the ball really is in your hands guys. 

I've presented the questions and issues I think. 

Look, I fully understand if you want to let this carry on and just keep working with the company for as long as it takes to sort it out.  As I've eluded to above, it's the sort of thing that can have market impact on potential competitors.  However, you also have to question if a competitor would emerge in the market, with a quality product, if this product was removed (by FTA intervention for example). 

To balance this out a bit, we have to question if others looking on with product ideas might just say "well if Telstra can't do it with their resource, then there's no chance that we can".... 

But we really don't have any clue what's going on at all do we?  It all seems a bit odd... one minute we're reading that there will be an update that is ready to go, now it's months away...  Was this just a ploy to stop everyone from going 'hell no, I'm sending my stupid box back and getting MySky before the RWC'?

Really, it's becoming more obvious how this game is playing out and if you're not happy then just return it and ask for a credit.  I'm sure Gary will sort out anyone who's just had enough. 

If you feel that providers shouldn't be allowed to market in this way then complain to the ComCom (but trust me, that is not a quick process!), that's part of what they're there for.

On balance, we do have to remember that without Tbox, MySky is the only like product in the market, so that means they can do with their price as they choose. 

Do we feel that Tbox is applying some market pressure?  (indication you guys are currently giving is that TBox will be causing mySky to keep their price high and point finger to the value of a lower cost product... )

Edit:  One interesting question I'd like to know the answer to, and we'll never know of course...  is there internal debate in Telstra about pulling this product and just spending more cash on something with more power and more robust?  But is that held up because you guys are simply just accepting what's dished up for fear that if everyone does go off about it then Telstra might just withdraw the product and there will be no product? 

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85 posts

Master Geek

  # 542339 8-Nov-2011 07:04
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Telstra's T-box is the equivalent of Tranz Rail's "El Lemon" or "Aratanic".
And as for the "European developers", I have good information that they are in fact two teenagers from Albania - Gary is this true?Wink


14575 posts

Uber Geek


  # 542340 8-Nov-2011 07:12
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I have to confess that my feelings are changing. I have defended this machine in the past as most of you will know, there is a limit to my patience.

I have started to experience issues with mine and with that change and the 'high maintenance' I am required to do to keep the appliance in a usable state, the delay in receiving a viable fix is unacceptable.

This is now beginning to look like the initial development and release fiasco of this device with release targets being missed constantly for well over a year.

To put it bluntly, Telstra Clear to state categorically if they realistically see a viable for fix for this machine with an acceptable time frame. An acceptable time frame is weeks not months. If they are unable to do this then they should allow customers to relinquish the service without prejudice and without any early termination penalties. I believe that the Fair Trading act and the Consumer Guarantee Act give protection in this case as the product is not meeting specification and is not in merchantable condition.  

Retired IT Manager. 
The views stated in my posts are my personal views and not that of any other organisation.


There is no planet B



478 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 542356 8-Nov-2011 08:40
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One comment / question on this.

We got our TBox when it first came out & had ongoing problems of various types for the whole time until about 3 weeks ago when the unit froze during one of the World Cup semi's & we were not able to bring it to life (discussed in this thread, #534280 +).  Tech came out & fixed a faulty connection at the pole which got the unit back to life but the image was still stuttering as it had been in the weeks prior, so he replaced the unit with a new one.

(Touch wood) in the ~3 weeks since, we have not had a single problem other than very rare & brief (seconds) periods of pixelation.  Clearly there was a problem with the connection at the pole (dates back years to when cable internet was first installed). 

But equally clearly replacing the unit has made a big difference.  Question is, have there been subtle hardware changes to the units since they were first released? 
(more memory, faster cpu, ...?)

19 posts


  # 542402 8-Nov-2011 10:05
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TelstraClear: Hi everyone. Here is an update on the next release of T-Box software.

The planned update is progressing. The European software developers have found further ways of reducing the load on memory and they are incorporating these into the new build. This will ensure that the performance (speed of response) of the T-Box will improve, as well as address some of the other issues that have been raised.

As has been noted by many posters here, and as is common with any technology that’s used to its limits, customers who are intensive users tend to notice more issues. We have asked the European software developers to ensure that they take this into account in the new build. The software update should bring improvements for all customers although we expect, as with any technology, that heavy users will still report more issues than others (although fewer overall than before). We hope that you will continue to provide feedback so that we can log these for future updates.specific. 

Thanks Gary for the update, I appreciate some news even if not favourable. I hope that Telstraclear considers the various people providing input here as useful in identifying issues and assisting with producing an overall better product - if we didn't care we wouldn't be sharing our concerns and we would already be using an alternative product. Unfortunately while I really like the T-Box, when it works, I have to agree with many of the comments being made in reply to the post.

Perhaps it would be worthwhile TCL highlighting that either only a small number of users are having significant issues (noting some posters here have few problems) or that the wider T-Box platform has problems - remember the T-Box is approx 80-90% workable and could potentially become a very good product if successfully fixed.

????? I am familiar with how some technology can be "run to its limits", e.g. multiple applications running causing a CPU or "car engine" to run at 100% continually. In these cases the user input causes the over work, but I am at a loss as to how the T-Box can be pushed to its limits at all or how heavy users will cause or receive more issues. The T-Box functionality and is strictly limited in what it will allow a user to do, unlike a PC etc. It is designed to record 2 channels and watch a third, it can't be made to do anything else like record additional channels or be "revved to the red line". If it can't handle the basic functions, then perhaps the lack of CPU grunt or limited memory is a game killer regardless of software updates???

A big thanks to the ChCh based TelstraClear Retentions team. They were very friendly, highly professional and did a fabulous job of listening to my T-Box concerns and working out a suitable short term resolution. Great service and without the frustrations of dealing with the TCL call centres, who don't appear authorised to do anything except log jobs.

For the moment we are retaining the T-Box and will review our options after Xmas.  That's if the recording failures etc don't wear me down first...... Good luck T-Box.


126 posts

Master Geek

  # 542410 8-Nov-2011 10:20
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DS248: One comment / question on this.

  Question is, have there been subtle hardware changes to the units since they were first released? 
(more memory, faster cpu, ...?)

I'm aware of at least two TBOX models, type "D" and "E".
The installer originally provided me with a model "E" back in June 2011, which did not even complete the installation process (froze during the installation signal/channel scanning step). Promptly replaced with another "E" unit, which lasted only 48 hours before refusing to reboot.
Subsequently replaced with an older type "D" which the installer said was a more robust version, claiming the newer "E" units had an IR remote sensor that was more sensitive to interference from other appliances (plasma TVs in particular). I've been using this unit since then.

40 posts


  # 542623 8-Nov-2011 14:55
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I do feel for the Telstra team, there's no doubt they this is the last thing they expected when they placed an order (and probably paid in advance) for several containers of digital decoders.

 Other than the slow response I have no gripes, the original faulty unit was replaced and I was given the bear minimum as compensation, but compensated none the less. I would suggest that people like me fall in the 99percentile.

 I think TCL needs to engage a loyalty programm - for every 6 months of T-box patronage, you get a month free. After all, those of us that have been with the machine from day one have been loyal, have shown patience and most of all, paid our dues financially.
  Some kind of blanket loyalty programm to all T-Box clients shows that TCL means well, have OUR interests are heart and intend to move foward.

While the price we pay for the unit is lower than the competition, its does NOT factor in the faults, as these rates were determined BEFORE the product hit the ground in NZ.

 While the timing mentioned in Gary's post isn't overly pleasing, its progress none the less.

 The worst thing TCL can do now is simply take the "suck it up" approach, now is the time to reward clients, retian clients and reslove issues in due course.



21 posts


# 542818 8-Nov-2011 20:29
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Trolling through the archives of Telstraclear - here is a news article from the Dom re the problems.  Some responses have not changed, yet the date has!

"TelstraClear has admitted ongoing problems with its long- awaited MySky-rival the TBox, following complaints the personal video recorder often freezes and records the wrong channel.Customer Christine Pover said the problems had been ongoing since she purchased a TBox just after its launch.

TelstraClear had replaced her unit after she complained about it freezing but that unit was still freezing and was at times recording the wrong channel.

The electronic programming guide disappeared about once a week, and the only way to get it back was to reboot the unit.

TelstraClear had promised there would be a software update in June to fix some of the issues, "but the updates never seem to happen".

It had offered to rent the unit free for six months as compensation.

"We'll probably persevere with it only because we have our internet and phone with them and for us to switch to Sky would cost us more money."

Paul LeBeau said he was on to his second TBox but its performance was still sluggish. TelstraClear spokesman Gary Bowering said updates had fixed some of the problems with the TBox software, and it was working with its software provider to address other issues. The next two updates would fix freezing issues and improve the slow responsiveness of the unit which was due to its high-definition menu and user interface.

"The customer user experience is of great importance to us, and there is positive comment comparing our TBox picture quality with competitors' products.

"We are working with our software supplier on incremental updates to address the other issues, and will issue updates to continue to improve the user experience over the next few months."

Very few units had needed replacing. Customers experiencing problems should reboot their units to ensure the software was updated, Bowering said.

Sky customers also reported various issues with MySky after its launch.

TelstraClear planned to launch the TBox in 2008 but software glitches delayed its debut until September last year. Customers, including Telstra customers in Australia, have also complained of tinny sound and pixelated images.

Consumer New Zealand adviser Paul Doocey said the PVRs would be covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act, which requires goods to be of an acceptable quality and fit for purpose.

"If you keep getting [replacement] units and they're not working then you could look at getting your money back and getting something else in the market."

566 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 543227 9-Nov-2011 16:53
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Hi everyone,

Thanks for the feedback and questions. Rather than make a lot of posts quoting everyone, I’ll make one post covering the important points.

We can understand your frustration at the time it has taken to get the update ready. We’re frustrated as well. We’re frustrated with the new issues that have arisen. We’re frustrated that we haven’t been able to issue the release as we’d planned. But we’re continuing to work through the issues and, as stated, we intend to get the update right so that we make things better and not worse or even different. It will be better, and that’s from the top TelstraClear management level. We are taking this very seriously and will be getting it sorted.

The early version of the update that was shown, as some have mentioned, to those who visited the broadcast lab will, as they saw, improve the performance. However, during intensive testing of that update and subsequent iterations in a real-world environment we discovered other issues that would frustrate customers just as much as the issues it fixed.

While we are confident that (the European software developer) has now ironed out most of those bugs and we’re close to being able to test a release in the real-world environment, we’re not 100% certain. Until we are completely confident that the new software will deliver as promised we can’t commit to a release date. As noted, and we admit, we were wrong with the expected timing of the release being ready at the end of the RWC.

As also noted, during real-world testing of the customer-ready release we discovered new issues that, while they would fix the issues already raised, would introduce new ones. This wasn’t good enough and we delayed the release, as updated Monday. All going well, the release will be a couple of months away at most, quite possibly less. If we have to reject the update and get it re-worked then the release date will be later. As mentioned yesterday, the update does remain a priority for both us and and many hours both here and in Europe are being put into getting it right. As soon as we have more to tell we’ll update you.

It’s highly unlikely that the update will take another 6-12 months as some have speculated. It’s quite likely to be a few months. However, given the issues that have been identified in earlier iterations of the release as mentioned, 3-4 months is also possible. We’re not denying that and giving you all the available information. We’ll have more certainty in 4-6 weeks.

T-Box hardware – the T-Box has plenty or memory and has high quality hardware and build. The T-Box is not an off-the-shelf PVR and has been built and developed for New Zealand. It is the only PVR in the world (that we know of) that has the features we’ve included that will enable it to become more versatile as delivery and content options evolve. The reported issues are all to do with the software, not the box design, components or build. As enhancements have been made with each of the updates, the software has ‘bloated’ and this has been found to impact on the operating system memory. The audio and video processing memory has not been affected. As mentioned, has found further ways of reducing the load on operating system memory (reducing ‘bloat’). This will help address many of the issues that have been reported, as well as improve performance and response. The new build itself will also further improve performance.

Early T-Boxes v later ones – they are the same. The specifications haven’t changed. The issues that some customers have experienced are related to the software, not to the age of their T-Box. The codes ‘D’ and ‘E’ relate to the manufacturers batch numbers. Our customer service records show no performance or internal hardware differences between the batches. While the manufacturer may have changed some brands of electronic components between batches, the architecture and specifications are the same, as are the QA requirements. As one poster noted, the manufacturer made a unilateral minor change to the external facia to improve the remote angle of response. In a few cases, some customers may experience IR interference. Moving the T-Box back into the cabinet or further away from their TV reduces the likelihood of interference.

Number of issues – about 25% of our tens of thousands of cable TV customers have a T-Box. The percentage of customers that are reporting issues is very small (about 2% few percent). This is in line with levels of other computer-based technologies, including other PVRs and recording devices. We have logged the issues and, as stated, we are working to address these. All of these reported issues have been identified as relating to the software (apart from the occasional problem with a faulty connection in the cable to the home). As stated, the update under development will address the issues that most users find the most frustrating. The software has not performed as well as we or you would have liked. This is a new device and there have been some teething issues. These are being worked through. We remain committed to the T-Box. As mentioned, a few of the issues some customers have reported have been caused by faults in the cable or connections to the individual home. If you think this might be causing you some issues please call our faults team and ask them to check this. The number is: 0508 888 800.

Delay in this update – based on feedback from we had high confidence that the performance release would be ready to upload to T-Boxes about now. However, our real-world testing of the update identified new issues. It did markedly improve performance, but also caused other unwanted behaviour and did not properly address existing issues. The software is being re-worked to ensure that it delivers the improvements expected.

Heavy users’ experience – the amount of use or ‘work’ that the T-Box does is related to the operating system ‘bloat’ and impact on memory. A few small memory leaks have also been detected and updated device drivers to address this are being sought and incorporated. Together, these factors mean that light users (and those who regularly power cycle their T-Box) in general experience fewer issues. This is not always the case, as some unrelated behaviours occur anyway. These are also being addressed in the next and future updates.

Early termination – if you have experienced problems with your T-Box, and have previously logged this with faults, and have read the information above on how we’re working to make improvements, but still feel you would like to return your T-Box, please email me with your customer number and contact details. I’ll ask one of our customer help staff to contact you and talk about the options on a case-by-case basis.

Hope this is useful, Gary

3892 posts

Uber Geek

  # 543236 9-Nov-2011 17:13
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Number of issues – about 25% of our tens of thousands of cable TV customers have a T-Box. The percentage of customers that are reporting issues is very small (about 2% few percent).

Nice to see some perspective there Gary.  I'm glad the company chose to share some real numbers. 

In my view that does help with confidence in the company and its products.

It's easy to be told 'ISP x has had 1 problem on GZ in the last year...' ...ya, they have 1000 customers

"Telstra has had 10 problems..."... ya, they have 150,000 customers...

As technical computer guys, I think we relate with numbers.  I know I do.

Promote New Zealand - Get yourself a domain name!!!

Check out mine - -

146 posts

Master Geek

  # 543241 9-Nov-2011 17:31
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Thanks for the update Gary.

"The percentage of customers that are reporting issues is very small (about 2%..)"

The percentage "reporting issues" may only be 2%.  However, the percentage "experiencing issues" has got to be a lot greater.  Close to 100% I would expect.  Certainly 100% of the people I know personally with T-Boxes are experiencing issues.


9 posts

Wannabe Geek

  # 543262 9-Nov-2011 18:23
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BigBadaboom: Thanks for the update Gary.

"The percentage of customers that are reporting issues is very small (about 2%..)"

The percentage "reporting issues" may only be 2%.  However, the percentage "experiencing issues" has got to be a lot greater.  Close to 100% I would expect.  Certainly 100% of the people I know personally with T-Boxes are experiencing issues. 

Was just thinking about this. Am pretty sure there's a lot of people - like me - who have never called TC and instead just power-cycle the box as we know that's the only thing to resolve all issues.

15 posts


  # 543278 9-Nov-2011 19:05
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Given a) how difficult it can be to get through to someone to report a problem and b) how poorly many TC staff actually record their customer interactions, I'm not surprised their figure is only 2%.


75 posts

Master Geek

  # 543280 9-Nov-2011 19:09
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Firstly, thanks very much to Gary and TC for the update. I think this sort of frankness is the only chance you have of retaining your customers. I've been a customer for a long time and would love T-Box to succeed, but even I was starting to look for a Plan B after the recent announcement. 

I also agree that the fault stats are likely to be severely out of whack. It's hard to see how if there are problems with device drivers and memory leaks that 98% of users can be unaffected. 

I've had a heap of T-Box problems, but have not bothered reporting any to the Help Desk. This is because I know they're caused by software problems in the main, and therefore the Help Desk aren't able to do anything useful to help. I don't want to spend an hour listening to on hold music to then be told to try switching it off and on again.

Until T-Box came along the TC Help Desk was my least favourite part of the whole experience. I once had a problem with my digital decoder jumping to random channels all by itself. It would even jump to channels that I didn't subscribe to. (Would have been a bonus if I had any control over it). 

The Help Desk guy suggested that I should take the batteries out of my remote control for a few days and see if that fixed it. 

Me (incredulous): Why? 
Help Guy: Because I think it's probably the remote control that's causing it to jump channels.
Me: What, the remote control that's just sitting on my coffee table with no one going near it?
Help Guy: Yes I think that's the problem
Me: And you think it can even make my decoder jump to channels I don't subscribe to?
Help Guy: Yes, I'm pretty sure it can
Me: Thanks for your time. 

Anyway I hope TC will continue to keep us posted with progress reports, and as much info as possible. I think there's a pretty tech savvy audience here who can better appreciate the issues if they're given the detail of what's actually going on.


14575 posts

Uber Geek


  # 543302 9-Nov-2011 20:02
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With respect Gary I have to seriously doubt part of the TCL position. The T-Box is an appliance PC, they are all using the same hardware and same software,drivers etc. Given this if the problem is software it would be all machines that are affected. If what TCL say only 2% are affected then it must be either a component fault issue or a design issue. It is simply not logical for it to be a Software, driver issue.

Now I am power cycling my T-Box weekly to lessen issues but I have to confess this becoming tiresome and my patience is wearing thin. The power cycling does not speed the EPG it only lessens the pauses and pixelation. 

Retired IT Manager. 
The views stated in my posts are my personal views and not that of any other organisation.


There is no planet B



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