or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › Gaming & Content Streaming › Microsoft UltimateTV PVR › How many are still using UTV?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

How many are still using UTV?

post #1 of 124
Thread Starter 
I am, still going strong, love the PIP feature, which the HR20 doesn't have.

Upgraded HD and 2 new tuners almost 4 years ago.

I'm really going to miss the UTV when I will eventually have to switch over to HD.

Anyone else still using UTV?
post #2 of 124
Right on into the ground. Since I don't see anything new coming to replace it, I'll stick with it until it fails or D* forces me to give it up.
post #3 of 124
Dittos to both of you.

I upgraded my UTV in the living room 4 years ago and have never regretted my choice of UTV over those "other" PVR's. I did add a fan mod which served for 3 years before I replaced it yesterday as a matter of routine maintenance.

The wife's UTV in the bedroom has not required any attention since day one. No drive upgrade, no fan mods - it just works.

Although flawed with poor tuner chips by design, they have braved 3 teen-agers, recorded 1000's of hours of preferred programming, and only missed a couple of critical scheduled recordings.

When I look at upgrading to an HR20 all I need to do is go to DBSTalk to remember why I haven't.

I want to say "THANKS!" to all of you who helped me decide to buy UTV from my local B&M store, helped me upgrade my HDD, helped figure out how to record only Monday Night Football, shared all of your findings on simple ways to cool the overheating tuner chips, and posted with so much enthusiasm about tremendously interesting UTV topics.

I realize many of those people are no longer with as as they have moved on to forge paths for those of us that will "ultimately" switch to some HD-PVR that really works (or they simply have no reason to post here now). But I know some probably still have UTV's doing their daily duty (backing up the continually failing HR20's).

I hope my UTV lasts until D* decides to drop their programming for it.
post #4 of 124
I still have 4 activated and going strong with a couple of "parts" machines on the shelf and I plan on keeping them as long as I can. Of course I haven't gone HD yet either.


kazak
post #5 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by twilburn View Post

I did add a fan mod which served for 3 years before I replaced it yesterday as a matter of routine maintenance.

I'm curious to know how you did this fan mod? Do you have pictures?

And I take it none of you had Tivo? I never did.

Thanks
post #6 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by theratpatrol View Post

I'm curious to know how you did this fan mod? Do you have pictures?

And I take it none of you had Tivo? I never did.

Thanks

I gave my parents a standalone TiVo for their cable a couple of years back. It's okay, but I like UTV better. The keyboard is the most kick-a** part for me. With their model, they can have a 30 second skip forward like I do, but it has to be reset if the unit loses power (I do have both mine and theirs on UPS units). As a result, they just FF rather than dealing with the whole "backdoor code" thing.

My concern is the DVR companies seem to be working backward. Instead of capitalizing on the fact these things are mini-computers, they seem to be more concerned with limiting features to avoid lawsuits. The above mentioned skip forward is a huge example of a little feature that is greatly missed when you lose it.
post #7 of 124
Thread Starter 
The biggest thing I will miss from the UTV is the PIP feature, its great for sports. Dish Network and some cable companys have PIP (DN has side by side PIP now), and why DirecTv and Tivo didn't add this feature still puzzles me.
post #8 of 124
I am still running 4 upgraded UTV's and have no plans to change. I currently get HD OTA for free and am content with that.
post #9 of 124
I got my original utv which I upgraded when 100gigs was a big drive. I got another as a spare but quickly hooked it up to get 4 recordable streams. One of it's tuners went so I got 2 spare utvs for around $50 each. I replaced the one and so I now have 2 working, 1 spare and 1 more with 1 bad tuner.

What really amazes me is the hard drive in my first unit (100g) has been on 99.9% for nearly 6 years and has never stopped seeking (i can hear it). I have some ppv movies on it that are over 3 years old.

The way I see it, is if it ain't broke don't fix it.

Then again, I'm still running 2 computers with win2000 and they work just fine too.

Hd doesn't do much for me since I don't have (or want) a large screen tv. 27 in is enough for me.
post #10 of 124
Still running 4 UTVs and a DTivo. No plans to give up the UTVs. Been looking into a LCD HDTV... Don't see the need to get an HD DVR until it can provide similar features to my UTV.
post #11 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by theratpatrol View Post

I'm curious to know how you did this fan mod? Do you have pictures?

And I take it none of you had Tivo? I never did.

Thanks

I do not have pictures. There used to be some in the forum here, but I was unable to locate them in the archives. Perhaps someone else may know where to find them.

Here is the fan I used http://shop1.outpost.com/product/297...H:MAIN_RSLT_PG (probably the same one mentioned by lgodave in this thread http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=790899). Don't bother with it unless it has Ball Bearings (I see there are 3 versions). I chose it because it was the simplest "case mod" without cutting any holes. Very simple to install and it has a molex connector that plugs into the HDD. I flattened out the tab used to hold it in a PC slot so it would mount flush to the vent behind the tuner chips. A couple of short sheetmetal screws through the UTV vent into the exhaust grill of the fan suspends it above the tuner chips. Just be sure to place the screws toward the ends of the grill and the fan side is face-down. I used to have tuner problems prior to installing it. I have not had problems since.

I have never owned TiVo, and do not plan to.
post #12 of 124
I have been using the same UTV receiver for four years and have had to get a tuner replaced once. I just bought another for a spare and to use in the motor home. I'll keep using them until they pry the 30 second jump button from my hand. We don't watch anything live anymore.
I found a variable speed USB fan to use for extra cooling. Power it from the UTV USB connectors. I lay it over the vents on top of the case on the left front. I just tape over the vents on the side just below to make it draw air in from the back.
USB Coolong Fan
post #13 of 124
RE: twilburn's fan mod...

You don't have to use machine screws in the Fan. I've done that and I've also used Twist Ties (not the "weak" bread twist ties but stronger plastic ones used on extension cords (and other electronics) that hold up to some weight and won't deteriorate over time. ).

The Twist ties actually can provide a more flexible/quick install and leaves more vent holes open for ventilation. Use what you think is best.
post #14 of 124
I still have 4 UTV's going, two are down to one tuner only. I have 2 HR20's and as others have said the user interface really sucks. I will keep the UTV's until I upgrade each TV to HD!!!
post #15 of 124
I wish I could answer the original question... how many UTV customers are left.

When DTV dismantled the UTV group in 2004 there were only about 5,000 UTV accounts left. I don't know how many UTV units were built, but we could still probably get a good idea if we compared serial numbers. It was never a popular unit so I'd say maybe 10,000 were built, but I could be way off.

The UTV customer was more of a cutting edge group than the average DTV customer. If this demographic held true most of those same customers would have migrated to HDTV over the years and abandoned UTV.

If I had to bet on a number it would be that there are less than 2,500 UTV customers remaining.

I've been told by a reliable source that there's nobody left to develop any necessary changes to the unit. Most of the people that worked on the project have moved on to other things. One of the people involved said that they don't even know where the project code is... probably locked in a vault somewhere and the person that knew about it is long gone.

The last update a few years ago was due to some security issues. Chances are that there will not be any future updates since the learning curve to get new people involved in a dead project would cost more than to just kill the units.

UTV will remain active until there is a security issue. There was talk that DTV wants to get rid of all the older boxes that don't use the newer access cards... if that happens the UTV will be in that group.

I find it extremely unfortunate that in the history of DVR's the UTV is relatively unknown, but had one of the best user interfaces and feature group of any ever made. TiVo never matched UTV. The new DTV HDTV PVR's are terrible. They can't even get them to reliably do basic functions.

I don't remember what year the UTV was introduced, but in PVR terms it's ancient. Despite that fact there's still nothing better on the market.

-Joe
post #16 of 124
I am still using UTV in Florida. I absolutely love the skip ahead and go back buttons. My wife rarely watches TV in real time due to the availability of this feature.

I regret that Microsoft did not upgrade the computer aspects to accomodate a broadband connection. WebTV would be great for a backup internet connection with broadband. It would have kept UTV as a viable option.

We have just purchased a HDTV LCD (Vizio VX37L). The SD picture with the UTV is surprisingly good. If UTV had continued to evolve, HD capability would have no doubt been added. I will likely upgrade to a HR-20 when the SVM (single wire) solution is released; we would have to fish many wires down from the attic.

After a couple of problems early on, the UTV has been remarkably stable.
post #17 of 124
See inline corrections below:

===> When DTV dismantled the UTV group in 2004 there were only about 5,000 UTV accounts left. I don't know how many UTV units were built, but we could still probably get a good idea if we compared serial numbers. It was never a popular unit so I'd say maybe 10,000 were built, but I could be way off.

<=== DTV didn't dismantle the group as it isn't DTV's group to dismantle. Also, both figures are way low.

===> The UTV customer was more of a cutting edge group than the average DTV customer. If this demographic held true most of those same customers would have migrated to HDTV over the years and abandoned UTV.

<=== A good percentage remain.

===> If I had to bet on a number it would be that there are less than 2,500 UTV customers remaining.

<=== Way low.

===> I've been told by a reliable source that there's nobody left to develop any necessary changes to the unit. Most of the people that worked on the project have moved on to other things. One of the people involved said that they don't even know where the project code is... probably locked in a vault somewhere and the person that knew about it is long gone.

<=== That's untrue and silly. Of course most have moved on to other things but the code is available to those needing access to it and staff remains to maintain the product. Your source isn't as reliable as you think. Whoever your source is, please ask them to stop spreading untruths about UltimateTV.

===> The last update a few years ago was due to some security issues. Chances are that there will not be any future updates since the learning curve to get new people involved in a dead project would cost more than to just kill the units.

<=== Not true again. The last update included many useful new features.

Please note: I'm not at liberty to reply to questions about UltimateTV except to say that the product is supported by Microsoft.
post #18 of 124
I did get some more info:

UltimateTV was originally develped by WebTV before Microsoft purchased WebTV. The unit was developed in 1996 and 1997, but not announced until June of 2000 and officially introduced in March of 2001.

The UltimateTV group was never part of Microsoft other than ownership. It was always part of the WebTV group located in Mountain View, CA.

The UltimateTV "project" only lasted about 9 months. The UltimateTV group was disbanded in January, 2002. 168 employees were cut... most of them laid off, not merged into Microsoft. The director of the UltimateTV group still works for Microsoft, but few if any others remain.

What was left of the WebTV group took over support for UltimateTV. When the WebTV group was disbanded in June, 2002 the remaining 161 employees were laid off (all got notice one day with no warning). Keep in mind that UltimateTV and WebTV were never true Microsoft products. They were purchased and never enjoyed much support at Microsoft.

The XBox group took over the remnants of the WebTV group. This has shifted around a couple of times since... even the MSNBC group had it for a while, but UlitmateTV was never part of this. Microsoft dumped the entire project on DirecTV.

The contract between Microsoft and DirecTV required Microsoft to support UltimateTV. The UltimateTV support group was created at DirecTV. The Spring 2003 upgrade was the last (and final) UltimateTV update. This was done entirely by DirecTV with no involvement from Microsoft. Word has it that DirecTV did track down some former WebTV consultants for the minor upgrade.

Microsoft still holds the copyright to the UltimateTV name, but the service was tranferred to DirecTV in 2002.

There was apparently one person left at the DirecTV UltimateTV "group" until sometime in 2004. The date the group was disbanded is unknown to me. Today you're lucky if you can find anyone at DirecTV that even knows what a UTV unit is or does.

The hardware production run of RCA (Thomson) and Sony only lasted a few months. RCA had a very short run of units with a larger hard drive. The total production run numbers is unknown to me, but I still think 10,000 is a reasonable number. I've got about 5 of them and if I get some energy I'll see what the serial numbers tell me.

None of the above is to infer that UltimateTV wasn't a great product. I still use it and enjoy the units. I wish it had been further developed, but those days are long gone. The hopes for new developments or that there is a large userbase remaining is just foolish.

UltimateTV was never a popular product to start with. Those of us still using them are far and few between.

-Joe
post #19 of 124
I'm not trying to start a war so this last time I will point out the numerous errors in the below misinformation:

===> UltimateTV was originally develped by WebTV before Microsoft purchased WebTV. The unit was developed in 1996 and 1997, but not announced until June of 2000 and officially introduced in March of 2001.

<=== This is off by about 3 years. Also no Dish or DirecTV work was done before WebTV was purchased by Microsoft.

===> The UltimateTV group was never part of Microsoft other than ownership. It was always part of the WebTV group located in Mountain View, CA.

<=== What's the point? WebTV was totally integrated into Microsoft as any other wholly owned subsidiary is.

===> The UltimateTV "project" only lasted about 9 months. The UltimateTV group was disbanded in January, 2002. 168 employees were cut... most of them laid off, not merged into Microsoft. The director of the UltimateTV group still works for Microsoft, but few if any others remain.

<=== 9 months? Your own numbers don't add up. You say it was developed in 96 and 97 so evidently the entire group (168 people?) just sat around until 2001, when the product was finally announced. I suppose that's why the group was disbanded in 2002 then, right? In reality it took much more than 9 months to develop the product. I can't address the rest of this comment except to say that it is inaccurate.

===> What was left of the WebTV group took over support for UltimateTV. When the WebTV group was disbanded in June, 2002 the remaining 161 employees were laid off (all got notice one day with no warning). Keep in mind that UltimateTV and WebTV were never true Microsoft products. They were purchased and never enjoyed much support at Microsoft.

<=== Incorrect again. The WebTV group was not ever disbanded. The product became MSN TV and MSN TV2. See www.webtv.com, www.msntv.com or www.msntv2.com. You can walk into Best Buy and buy an MSN TV2 today if you like. These facts alone should demonstrate that your source doesn't know the facts.

===> The XBox group took over the remnants of the WebTV group. This has shifted around a couple of times since... even the MSNBC group had it for a while, but UlitmateTV was never part of this. Microsoft dumped the entire project on DirecTV.

<=== This is all fiction and totally false.

===> The contract between Microsoft and DirecTV required Microsoft to support UltimateTV. The UltimateTV support group was created at DirecTV. The Spring 2003 upgrade was the last (and final) UltimateTV update. This was done entirely by DirecTV with no involvement from Microsoft. Word has it that DirecTV did track down some former WebTV consultants for the minor upgrade.

<=== This is total fiction. All UltimateTV releases were developed by Microsoft. The 2003 upgrade had many useful features. See: http://www.ultimatetv.com/whatsnew.asp .

===> The hardware production run of RCA (Thomson) and Sony only lasted a few months. RCA had a very short run of units with a larger hard drive. The total production run numbers is unknown to me, but I still think 10,000 is a reasonable number. I've got about 5 of them and if I get some energy I'll see what the serial numbers tell me.

<=== Way low.

===> None of the above is to infer that UltimateTV wasn't a great product. I still use it and enjoy the units. I wish it had been further developed, but those days are long gone. The hopes for new developments or that there is a large userbase remaining is just foolish.

<=== The facts are that the user base is much larger than you describe.

===> I'm not going to follow up any further with this but I just wanted to attempt to put the many rumors and misinformation to rest. It is good to know that there are people out there who care enough about UltimateTV to dream up these long, convoluted but inaccurate stories.
post #20 of 124
Rambo, I really hate to address you directly, but I'm forced to... facts are facts.

The UltimateTV service was announced on January 6, 2001 (cite www.ultimatetv.com/pr3.asp ) and the actual receivers hit the market in March 2001. The UltimateTV project was officially shut down in January 2002.

From the June 27, 2003 issue of the Seattle Times written by Brier Dudley:
"It's the company's largest staff reduction since it folded its Ultimate TV division in California in January 2002, cutting 168 jobs."

From the January 23, 2002 issue of WindowsITPro written by Paul Thurrott:
"The division's 500 employees (based in Microsoft's Mountain View, California, campus) are being reassigned; 168 employees face layoffs unless they can find work in other parts of the company. However, the Ultimate TV hardware group is joining the Xbox team, the Ultimate TV services group is moving to the MSN TV Services Division, and the Ultimate TV software group is moving to the Microsoft TV Division.

Ultimate TV reportedly attracted fewer than 50,000 subscribers, probably because it focused solely on DirecTV satellite service rather than the wider cable TV market. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month, Microsoft representatives told me that satellite TV is more aggressive about rolling out new technology and thus made a better candidate for the company's initial release. In the year since Microsoft released Ultimate TV, however, the company was unable to secure any cable contracts, which could have dramatically increased its installed base."

My comments about the length of the project refer to from introduction to shut down. I did not include development since it was not developed by Microsoft (same with WebTV).

My source, who I consider to be of the highest authority... maybe THE highest authority on this subject, is the one that hinted at the production numbers. The "fewer than 50,000 subcribers" info that was published is true, but it was not near 50,000 either. I wouldn't drag him into this foolishness since the entire project is ancient history.

Your comments about WebTV, MSN TV and MSN TV2 refer to a hardware product. My comments refer to the PEOPLE that invented, developed and programmed the product. The hardware product evolved, but the people (and group) were dumped. This was all done at Mountian View which was abandoned.

I'm not even going to bring WINK into this... it would just confuse things, but if you want to know the real technology behind UTV you need to look at WINK.

So your claims of my statements being totally false (your words not mine) seem to be totally false in themselves. I think you must be some kid wishing UTV would come back to life, but it's not going to happen. Sorry.

So let's see some FACTS! You can type on some forum all you want about things being "totally false" but I deal with facts. When things are my opinon I state so... the facts are not my opinion and they remain fact even if you don't like it.

Did you know there was a HDTV UltimateTV box developed in 2001? Do you know where that box is? What happened to the .NET software version developed? Hint, hint, all three are real and are not at Microsoft. The story is very interesting, but too long to get into here.

-Joe
post #21 of 124
Surely you are insightful enough to know that you can't believe everything you read in the papers, especially when it concerns internal business decisions that are not required to be reported in detail to the public. Those stories got many of the details wrong, but if you read them closely you will find things that contradict some of the "facts" that you stated earlier in this thread.

Who is your source? I may know him! I can assure you that neither of us are kids. I just felt it necessary to challenge your "facts" as they are incorrect and potentially harmful to the UltimateTV business. Finally, I am not aware of any significant WINK link to UTV. To say it is based on WINK technology is exaggeration to the extreme.

It is likely you know someone who at one time worked in the UltimateTV group, five or more years ago. There were hundreds of employees, with varying degrees of knowledge on the many aspects of a very complex product/business. Your source, or your interpretation of what they told you, is incorrect on many of the points detailed above. I'm going to have to leave it at that.
post #22 of 124
Hmmm, I always thought that the original code or hardware or whatever, came from a replay tv box. I recall lots of people saying how they wished it had some such feature that was in the original replay tv.

On the dates, I definately recall 2 upgrades, and I am pretty sure they were a year apart. I bought my first unit about the time of my registering on this site (ha, I think I have the oldest date of anyone left on this board). I remember an update to 3.5 from my original which just added a few things, like manual record and a keep function. Then it was about a year after that one which is the 3.7 we have now.

I really can't recall any sat updates after 3.7. Not even some sort of fix, but my memory might be bad on this. I do know that it was an exciting time when 3.7 came out. I remember hoping there'd be another one a year later (it was around april if I recall correctly).
post #23 of 124
Put me down for having 2 UTV's still in service.
post #24 of 124
Well, for the record, I still own a UTV and have done so since the beginning. No problems.

As for the above discussion, it's absolutely fascinating information. I wouldn't have any reason to doubt the estimates and insights. This is because I recall hearing much of this at that time and is also consistent with some of the links below.

I'm certainly no expert in this matter and don't claim to have any insight. I do recall speaking with John Nicol, (head of MSN, which oversaw UTV) in December, 2003, for service.
http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/f...5-06msntv.mspx
He referred me to a Manager at the Mountain View location to assist me with service. In fact, I still have the E-mails saved, with his name and information (for what it's worth?).

I also remember when the founder of WebTV, Steve Perlman left:
http://www.net4tv.com/voice/story.cfm?StoryID=920

Other informative links:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...type=printable
http://www.internetnews.com/xSP/article.php/127031
http://news.com.com/Microsoft+takes+..._3-244454.html
post #25 of 124
Ultimate TV was/is the best thing since sliced bread. When I went to satellite TV, I couldn't believe there was no PIP. PIP, "pausing live TV", and the ease/convenience of recording programming made UTV a must buy for me.

I did give it up for HDTiVO, but I still prefer the UTV. The only thing I like about the TiVo DVR is the remote is smaller.
post #26 of 124
I bought my Sony UTV in January of 2002. I was going to buy the Sony Tivo box for $50 less, but they were sold out and the sales rep gave me the same price for the UTV, $399 with $100 Sony rebate and $100 D* rebate. Best money I ever spent. How lucky was I that the Tivos were out of stock?

Still using that box, and I bought another off of ebay two years ago. Have not had anything go wrong with either unit, other than the pictograms on remote control skip buttons have worn off. Haven't made any upgrades, and I record ~50 shows per week. As long as D* isn't dicking with the datastream, it works flawlessly.

How can something that was developed so many years ago still have the best features and best user interface? If only someone could hack a HD tuner into this thing...
post #27 of 124
Still using 2 units - one with 2 tuners still going strong after an early repair, and the other with only one tuner still working.

I also have a DTV Tivo box and the more I use it, the more I love the UTVs.
post #28 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by scanty View Post

How can something that was developed so many years ago still have the best features and best user interface? If only someone could hack a HD tuner into this thing...

I agree. The UTV is what, 6 years old now? And it still works great. The HR20 is 6-8 months old and its still having a lot of problems. Maybe its time for D* to realize that they can't build a DVR. If they don't want to go back to Tivo, maybe they should call Bill Gates up.

Remember, if it isn't broke, then don't fix it, or try to build your own.
post #29 of 124
As others have said... The more I've used DTivo the more I like my UTVs.

Just yesterday I paused a program and came back almost 2.25 hours later and it was all still in the buffer. My DTivo only allows up to 30 minutes (and usually "resets" at the start of new programs) so I was very happy to see that.

The UTV had gone to ScreenSaver and I'm curious if I'd have left it sit and "waited" for the UTV to run out of buffer how much longer it would have continued. Since the UTV's buffer is only suppose to be up to 2 hours... I was impressed it went over. (92% Full and running only one tuner (one cable run))

I've also been impressed with the UI. I can make setting modifications without interrupting recordings (My DTivo decided to "dump" 50 minutes of a program after I made a change to it's end time). I can pull up the guide without having to be flashed with Live TV... (In some cases a program I'm already recording/watching on delay)

Dtivo doesn't give me a Preview window when I'm trying to multi-task while watching a recording. I always get bombarded with "Live" programs when I'm trying to make a quick recording option or checking the guide for upcoming shows. Long live UTV.
post #30 of 124
Wow, what a bummer if you were recording a game and just to check out the guide it would go live with the game. I'd normally think this was operator error, but if lgodave says a dtivo actually does this, then I'd never get one untill they fixed that "feature".

I wonder if utv was written portably or if it was one of these systems with all sorts of "tricks" to make it work fast enough. Is it written at a high enough level that the UI layer could be ported.

Just because the UI is so clean doesn't mean the software is. The original mac UI was so good given it had a primative O.S. of the sort found in embedded systems that was a nightmare full of conflicts because it's O.S. never was intended for multi-tasking.

But, if suppose, this system was built clean and portable, then it sure seems a waste that they don't just dust it off and use it with the latest hardware. But there's probably an ownership issue as well.

The one thing that worries me though is that there's still one serious bug (runnaway FF) that smells like the code wasn't written cleanly, or they'd have been able to fix this given it was reported long before they folded up.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Microsoft UltimateTV PVR
AVS › AVS Forum › Gaming & Content Streaming › Microsoft UltimateTV PVR › How many are still using UTV?