It has been nearly 5 months to the day since the last time I wrote about a Time Warner Cable so-called upgrade.
On early Tuesday morning of this week at 3am, all our DVRs had started the long process of downloading new software to its boxes. Unlike past upgrades that lasted approximately 1 hour, this update took a mind-numbing 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete. This is certainly the longest update time that I have seen since the major upgrade last year, but even that wasn’t even that long.
So, now after the upgrade the ODN version is currently at 7.3.0_29. Your version on your machines may be later or older than this depending where your area is in the upgrade cycle. I will discuss my experiences with the above mentioned version.
The first thing I noticed when turning on half of my boxes after the upgrade was that all of the channels were blocked because apparently these boxes had the rating block enabled of “Not Rated”, “TV-Y”, and “TV-G”. I did not have these set but somehow they got enabled after the update.
After fixing this issue, the next thing that one will notice is the fonts have changed. The new font appears to be the same style and size font used when the menus and guide are set to their high-definition equivalent. While it may save some space in the operating system by using the same font, the end result is that on the standard definition screens such as the guide, the font looks way too big and too thin to actually be readable.
What is worse about this is that this font makes letters and numbers sometimes run together with the poor spacing that this font has. Certainly in the guide, titles and descriptions are cut off or require multiple pages to view properly. Why they changed the font is beyond me when the old font was fairly easy to read except for being white or blue on black. This newer thinner font is just worse for my old eyes.
Next thing is with the guide. When you set up a recording of a show, the old “REC” is no longer next to the show’s title and is no longer highlighted in red instead a set of red dots show up next to the show’s title. The title is no longer highlighted so it makes it more difficult to tell if a show is set to be recorded or not. However, the reminder for a show is still shown in purple across the show’s block like it has previously done. It seems that this was either an oversight or a change for the next upgrade. Certainly, they are making it more difficult to know what is being recorded,
When pressing the guide a second time to exit, there are now 2 columns of how arrange guide channels. The previous 5 options are still there with the new ones of “Movie Channels”, “Sports Channels”, “Kids Channels”, “News & Info Channels”, and “Latino Channels”. While these lists seem exhaustive, the latter one only lists 2 channels in my area! For now it seems that while convenient to have these categories, right now some are just useless in their current format.
Nothing has changed when pressing the “A” button on the remote control; however the “B” button has made significant changes. No longer when pressing the “B” button are you greeted with 3 or 4 options as you were previously. Gone are the “What’s Hot” and “Genres” options along with the “In-Progress” option if you were watching an On-Demand show on DVR and wanted to continue it on that unit or another in your house. The only option available now is the search option with the same keyboard layout as previously available. The biggest change with this option is that as you enter characters it tells you how many things match what you have typed thus far. Of course, this is inaccurate as just entering one character gives just a small handful of results. Whether this was used just for internal testing or nor is hard to determine, but like Google search which says it finds millions of matches to your search request, this result number is just an arbitrary number and shouldn’t be taken seriously.
The only plus to the search is that little dollar signs “$” show up when a show is a pay-per-view show that requires a purchase. This is handy to know what not to pick in my searches.
The most missed option when pressing the “B” key is the “In Progress” option. Where it was just a simple one key press is no longer that simple, one must go the On-Demand portal channel and get to that option there. Inconvenient and undesirable is the way I seen that change.
Overall, this new update was one step forward and three steps backward. The new font looks awful in standard definition. The search mechanism no longer as good as it was. The guide has just little dots to indicate what is going to be recorded. These changes alone make this guy one disappointed customer. I have not been happy since the new interface was implemented and now it is just getting worse and not better.
I am still waiting for that free whole house DVR setup that was promised 4 years ago and I think we are all waiting for cloud DVR recording to save space locally on the units which are severely limited with space anyway. It is time to get real updates not these previously discussed downgrades. Once again shame on TWC for a job poorly done.
My score: 4
Summary: Too much needs improving at this point. TWC Navigator has back pedaled a lot of previous features and made things unreadable and just more difficult overall.