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New UK firmware update to replace MHEG, Freeview+ code

Topfield has signed a deal with a third party to replace some of the key software elements in their PVRs for the UK market. We’ve learned from the UK distributor, Turbosat, that a deal has been arranged to replace the MHEG and FreeviewPlayback engines in the firmware for the TF5800 and TF5810 with code from Ocean Blue software.

Improved interactive and series links

The MHEG engine is responsible for providing the interactive services in the PVR, such as the BBCi red button functions like news multiscreen or alternative sports fixtures, while FreeviewPlayback is the original name for the built in series link functions, now marketed under the Freeview+ brand. Those were introduced to the Topfield UK range with the TF5810 and firmware versions from 5.14.00 onthe TF5800.

As regular visitors to the site will know, the MHEG engine has been the cause of some problems in the past, while the FreeviewPlayback system has a number of bugs, and sometimes misses recordings, leading many users to prefer other alternatives for series recording, such as the use of TAPs.

Ocean Blue

We understand that Ocean Blue is providing new software for both these functions; they’re an established manufacturer of middleware for set top boxes and other digital TV applications, and their product portfolio includes both MHEG interactive systems and PVR code, including Freeview+.

At the moment, there’s no confirmed schedule for the release of a new firmware incorporating the Ocean Blue components, but we’ll provide updates and more information as we learn more.

As with any major change to the firmware, we’ll be aiming to give it a thorough test before it goes on general release, so that we can provide information about any issues that arise — and with some parts of the software being completely replaced, there are bound to be some effects on add-on software such as TAPs. In the long term, however, that should be outweighed by the benefits of reliable interactive services and series linking.