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Technology, Cycling and Singing in Dublin


Improvements to the UPC Horizon Set Top Box

Update 29-Aug-2014 – a software update to the Horizon box in the last couple of days seems to have solved some of these problems – see:UPC Ireland – Horizon Software Update

Horizon is UPC’s premium TV offering, and has several advantages over other TV/DVR systems, such as:

  • Ability to record up to 4 TV shows at the same time and watch a 5th, which avoids recording conflicts
  • HD channels as standard, rather than as a paid-for extra
  • Integrated broadband modem and WiFi router in the set top box, so you only need one box for TV, Broadband and Phone (although of course, as they’re in one box, you have to have everything in one location)
  • Ability to stream live TV via WiFi onto iOS devices and PC/laptops in the home (although no support for Android yet)

However the new Horizon system is now without its problems.  I was involved in the public trail back in the spring of 2013, and fed back all of these findings to UPC – but as of today, none of them have been resolved:

  • The TV Guide is very slow to navigate. There is no way to go straight to a particular, so if you want to find something to record in a week’s time, you need to scroll through an entire week’s worth of shows to find the one you want.
  • The Recorded Shows navigation is slow and involves a lot of key presses.  Deleting individual shows is very slow, and you often end up pressing the remote several times, thinking that the button press has not registered. Also if you want to delete a whole series, you are forced to delete each show in the series individually, which takes ages. There’s also a very dangerous “delete all” option that could accidentally be selected – and it will delete everything off your box!
  • The Now and Next on-screen option is very poor. You can see what’s on now, or what’s on next, but not at the same time!  It’s so bad it’s not even worth bothering with.
  • There are numerous sound problems. If the picture freezes for any reason (a regular occurrence particularly with recorded shows), or you press pause while playing on-demand content, then the sound drops out completely. The only way to get it back is to fast forward or rewind a couple of times.
  • Recorded shows are inaccessible to watch. Sometimes the recording corrupts, and the series/episode numbers show as ‘-1′. When this happens you can’t access the show to watch it.
  • WiFi reach is quite poor. It’s certainly not as good at the old UPC modem I had. There are also problems where the wifi will sometimes stop working altogether (about once a month), which requires a box reboot to clear.  Some devices also have problems connecting.  It’s such a problem in my house that I’m planning to switch back to a separate wifi router.
  • The website is useless. You’re meant to be able to stream all the channels from it (if you’re on UPC internet) but only some of the channels are available. The TV guide doesn’t work properly either – particularly the remote record function.

I’m very surprised, and disappointed, that none of these issues have been resolved in the past six months, and the UPC continue to strongly push the Horizon service knowing that it has problems.

40 Responses to Improvements to the UPC Horizon Set Top Box

  1. Louise says:

    Also you can’t easily delete a series in one click!

    • John Craig says:

      Great article, I have just moved to Dublin and had been with Sky for 8 years. I chose Horizon mainly for the broadband and thought the Horizon box would be good enough but it is so terrible, slow and not user friendly at all. The software needs to be totally replaced or the components need to be upgraded to handle something that people can use. Every problem listed in the comments has happened me in my first 3 months. Lol I get jealous when now when I go to my mates who have sky, I miss it so much

  2. Ronan K says:

    Excellent post. I experience all of these issues with my horizon. I found this page when searching for information about why the horizon YouTube app doesn’t play a lot of content. It just sort of hangs

  3. Declan says:

    Could not agree more ,they have that guy Doyle selling this terrible product on every second add on tv , I foolishly fell for the luring advert , and what a mistake ….this product is not ready for market yet , needs a lot more work to bring it to a viable standard …come UPC at this stage if the game you should have made sure your product dose what it says it does

  4. Jerry O Leary says:

    Ditto problems here. So bad was the reach factor for wifi I had my modem reinstated and now use the box for tv only. On the tv it is all over the place. I have recently left Sky where I had the full HD package. Sky had a simple HD channels menu that made viewng simple. With Horizon I have set up all HD channels as favourites. However I have to go through at least 7 button presses to get the desired channel. Tonight watching golf the box froze 3 times whilst I paused to make a cup of tea meaning each time I went to resume I had to power off and reboot. Big mistake in changing over. Roll on next year

  5. Des Houlihan says:

    Richard. You have hit the nail on the head and problems persist to date. All in all its a pretty poor service. Feels like we are beta testers. I have a separate router model Technicolor TC7200. Useless. All your errors are still present : loss of audio, loss of video, delete nuclear option, useless apps. Very slow responses to the remote control. Hard to imagine a good tech company like Samsung built this so I assume its the UPC mods causing all the problems.
    Option number 2 : Eircom, who now do TV also.

    • Richard says:

      I’ve had a play around with the Eircom TV (or eVision) product, and it’s pretty good. My only concerns are that the box only has 2 tuners, and they don’t include UTV in their channels.

  6. Tony Nolan says:

    I took delivery yesterday & recorded a show for viewing later in the evening. We had the picture freezing & loss of sound a number of times! Also, I can’t get the remote paired with my tv. It’s a Blaupunkt 39″ HD LED tv and the helpdesk guy gave me about eight different codes to try, none of which worked. When I rang back the girl told me that they were constantly working to update the software and include more tvs, etc. but in the meantime I’d have to use two remotes. Surely that’s grounds for cancelling the contract on my part?

  7. Tom says:

    Got this in six months ago and it still not right . Have all of the problems listed above plus I also have a modem installed beside the box. The product is not ready for the market but it is still heavily marketed. Customer service is a joke, constantly fobbed off. My six months introductory offer was ending and price was about to be increased and I told them they were in breach of contract, they agreed to reduce cost to less than the intro offer for another four months. No one should feel obliged to stay with them if they are not providing the service they promised. I will continue for another four months and then decide.

  8. Patrick O'Keeffe says:

    The other thing that really annoys me is that when you series link a programme, it records the repeated episodes too. Very irritating. Also, the remote. Would it have been so hard to have a cover over the back so that you don’t keep hitting buttons underneath while pressing buttons on top? The old remote was terrible. I couldn’t understand why a design company approved a device that was exactly the same top to bottom with loads of black buttons. I thought that they would have seen the error of their ways when they were deigning the new remote but no. What UPC lacks, both in hardware and software, is clean user-friendly design and functionality. Everything is too cluttered. I am the “Tech Guy” of my friends and family and I still find it ridiculous. I switched from sky hd – which had an ergonomic and simple remote matched by a slick and intuitive user interface – and was shocked by the difference! Who signs off on these things for UPC? They should be sacked. Any home system like a tv device, that is to be used by people of all ages, from the very young to the very old, should be designed with that in mind. One of the genius devices of our time, the iPad, was designed with that in mind. Anyone could just pick it up and start using it. Why is that not the industry standard for all devices such as these?

  9. mick says:

    Iv had 44 phone calls with them in 7 months. My supposed 150mb fibre optic broadband is wank!! We got the tecnicolor modum. Shite. Pause a live show to come back to find the box has froze and will not respond unless hitting the switch on the back for a full reboot. Im not paying anymore have sky ordered and eircom broadband an they can cry all they want because il go to court with proof of my problems and probaly come out a few quid up.

  10. colette d says:

    Box freezes every 2 days or so & we have to turn off box for a few minutes then wait for it to reboot. Now the remote has stopped working! We have to turn it on at box and change stations manually but no access to services/library etc!!
    Can’t find where to insert new battery if that’s the problem!!
    Are we the guinea pigs? Is that why upc horizon being marketed & sold at half price??

  11. susie clancy says:

    I agree with everything above & clearly should have read reviews before signing up to Horizon! Does anyone know why wifi works on some devices but not on laptop? Is there a setting I need to change?

  12. Adam says:

    Anything changed since that post? Any improvements?
    I’m thinking of signup for Horizon and wondering if the issues still occurs…

    • Richard says:

      Hi Adam. Sadly in the five months since I wrote this post, none of the problems have been addressed. It’s still a fairly decent service, but it could be better.

  13. james keane says:

    Great page Richard, I have been considering upgrading to the horizon box, but on seeing the problems people have, I will hold off. I have an old UPC box and modem (bridge mode to my own router) which locks up every now and then, but it seems a lot more stable than the horizon box.
    It’s great to see some real info about this, as the ads would have you believe its a fast, smooth interface.

  14. Adrieanne says:

    I wish I’d read this before I switched to Horizon, can’t even watch netflix anymore without buffering. If you’re thinking of getting horizon, I’d say give it a miss for now!

  15. des says:

    Adrienne. Dont know how you were watching netflix using Horizon but have you tried Chromecast. Works well so long as there is a good wifi signel where your TV is.

    • Richard says:

      Hi Des – it might be that Adrienne is complaining about the in-built Horizon wifi being not as good as the older dedicated cable modems. Just guessing.

  16. Ciaran says:

    Hi, Having some satellite probs with Sky and thinking of switching. With UPC doing such a big marketing push at the moment i’m wondering if these probs are still out there?

    • Richard says:

      All the issues with the UPC Horizon box are still outstanding. They have made one or two improvements in the last year: they released an Android app to allow live TV streaming, and they launched the WiFree service, to allow you to piggy-back on the wifi connections of other UPC customers when visiting friends and family.

  17. Des Houlihan says:

    I agree, all the UPC issues are still outstanding. And by the way did anyone tell you it can be so sloooooooow. My 23 year old daughter hates it and would prefer if we dumped the horizon box for the older model. As for the stupid extras provided…what good are they when the basic problems remain.
    example : if you record Hi Def you will use disk space up very quickly. but your disk capacity information is not visible like on the earlier boxes. so it just stops recording.
    Before you move get more feedback! Anyone find the eircom bundle good???

  18. trevor says:

    How come we cant watch all our channels on horizon tv app? makes no since

  19. David says:

    Just got the Horizon bundle, TV & Broadband with a separate router as we have a home office. First thing I noticed that the new modem didn’t have an antenna, but I thought well, it has to be an improvement on the old modem otherwise they wouldn’t send it out. I now find that I loose connectivity when using an iPad around the house, even though the modem is in the exact same place as the old one, I use the iPad in all the same places as I used to, but it looses the signal a lot. Then it can’t be found and the iPad is trying to log onto the Horizon box, but that doesn’t operate as I opted for the modem. Then I got my first bill, only to find that I was charged €45 for the modem, which I was never informed about when changing over. Everything that has been said about operating the menus etc is still true, the old system is way better and easier to operate. I have been onto customer service about the poor connectivity with the wifi to be told that they don’t guarentee receptivity only that the direct line in is 120mbs. After telling the CS agent what I thought the problem was, she still persisted with the line that they don’t guarentee receptivity of the wifi, despite have the service before switching to a so called better service. I wouldn’t change if I had known about these problems prior to this and I have told them I will give it a month otherwise I want to revert back to my old box.
    Has anyone solved the problem of poor signal and loss of signal using the new modem?

  20. column says:

    This Horizon box doesn’t sound that good. I think I’ll get sky tv. But must check in shop
    Once more.

  21. Pingback: UPC Ireland – Horizon Software Update | Richard Bloomfield's Blog

  22. hynesean says:

    gave my horizon back after 4 months , tried to cancel my contract , but they gave me a good offer , got my old box back and doubleed my broadband for half the price, DO NOT get a horizon , it is a pile if sh1t .

  23. Niall says:

    I’m also very disappointed with horizon since I got it in 7 months ago switched over from sky too and within a few days had all these problems also. The problem that’s the most annoying is that the wifi never stays connected to my iPhone but will stay connected to everything else. A technician that came out to me on the 3rd occasion though was very informative about the whole horizon setup. He told me the boxes were released early that they are nowhere near ready to be used yet but they had to do it to try get customers back from sky. He told me that in the new year the boxes are eventually going to change similar to on demand for everything including normal programmes and I don’t see that going to well with the way things are currently. The fact they have rushed it out could end up been very bad for them if they don’t start sorting theses problems at the minute. I thinking of just going getting a quad core xmbc stream box once off fee no monthly bills sounds much better just keep there wifi for the moment as despite problem with not connecting to iPhone there service is the best and cheapest around unless other company’s improve there drastically I won’t change.

  24. El says:

    Hiya, just read all the comments here, can anyone advise me as to whether any improvments have been made? just moved into an apartment that doesn’t allow satellite dishes so sky is out of the question and horizon works out at around the same price as standard upc with less channels etc with an offer I found in carphone warehouse? should I stick to basic upc and internet or chance horizon for in and around the same price with more channels?it sounds like the box is a bit of a nightmare?!

  25. richie says:

    I wouldn’t bother with horizon ‘cos it really is absolute shite! I would recommend just getting broadband and watch whatever you want online…

  26. Cillian says:

    Horizon is absolute shite! My recordings usually have no sound so i always have to rewind over and over hoping it comes back. But thats not the biggest annoyance. Horizons internet is the worst. Mine cuts out all the time. I have the 200mb package and i have never once seen more than 50mb download speed. Im lucky seeing more than 10mb most the time and the bigger the download the slower the speed. The minute my contract is up with UPC im switching back to my old provider because im sick of UPC.

  27. Paul says:

    Well dido to all the above, shit shit shit, did better with the old box which I still use in the bed room. Much easier to navigate and check out what’s on in other channels at the same time, plus u can see recording space. So simple. This horizon box does not ned more testing needs to be removed fom the market full stop.

    I don’t know where to start with wifi. Have started to use fecking cables again but that’s no good for my I pads which now won’t work upstairs in the house unless I am standing on one foot with the I pad facing the Sky. Brutal brutal brutal.

    I am changing. Contract is up. I am going to look for old box or move to sky. Fiber 200 what ever my hole.

    This company is a disgrace. Starting to shop. I the ny.

    Don’t get horizon box

  28. AdrienneR says:

    I was managing to live with some of the Horizon problems mentioned about but lately I’m getting more and more frustrated. It has been losing some series links and I’m missing my programmes, while it continues to repeat recording ones I have already watched and deleted. The Wifi speed is really slow about 36mps when I should have more than this, like 200mps, and it keeps dropping the connections.
    I just bought a Chromecast to watch Netflix from laptop/iPad but the buffering issues are driving me crazy. I just want to f**k the whole thing out the window.
    The older UPC in the bedroom from a TV perspective is problem free.
    Time to change methinks!!!!

  29. IanM says:

    Disappointed to read these comments. Got a new 4k TV which I can only connect to my old UPC mediabox via scart cable. Looks a bit washed out, compared to DVD player and xbox connected via hdmi.
    Thought the solution would be to get a horizon box as it has hdmi. Now I don’t know what to do!

    • Richard says:

      Hi Ian – I’d say your TV would look a lot better with HDMI than with SCART. If you’re worried about moving to Horizon, then why not give UPC a call to see if they can send you a Digital+ HD box, as this has an HDMI output. Richard

  30. Alan Baker says:

    Hi Richard – nice to see someone trying to keep UPC & Horizon honest – and I just got a 12 euro price rise from them, thanks so much folks – my biggest gripe is the broadband speed. How can they claim to have the fastest broadband in Ireland when the horizon router is so terrible! My PC is in my attic, and can’t get a wifi signal above 10mb, so I resorted to the powerline adaptors recommended on their own webiste. Now I can get 30mb – even while I’m paying for 200mb…it’s very frustrating. I get a decent (over 90) when I plug a laptop directly into the ethernet port, which is great..when within 3 meters of the box!!! I know I’m not alone with this frustration…is there any technolgy advice you can offer??? Cheers.

  31. horizon... says:

    horizon is awesome now !!!!!!!

  32. Michael says:

    New horizon box in Autumn 2104. Problems with wifi. Can’t get wifi or using Ethernet cable to connect desktop to broadband. 2 technicians and numerous calls and they say it is my desktop that is at fault. Brought desktop to neighbours house. It connected straight away via wifi yo his UPC . Brought it home and worked for a few days then it has not connected to Internet since. Think I need a new modem separate to the horizon box.

  33. David says:

    The HDMI lead which was provided with my new Horizon box proved to be intermittently faulty. Their engineer, who tested my system, readily agree it was faulty.
    When I notified them of this, and asked for a replacement, at first they denied responsibility.
    Then they insisted that they never supplied replacement leads, and did not keep them. Thus they could not help me.
    They said that I could get a replacement lead myself.
    I then threatened the ombudsman etc., to no avail.
    Eventually, after demanding the reimbursement of the cost of a lead, or else a legal action, they agreed to give me a credit of €20.00 on my account to cover the cost of a lead.
    Why was all this so hard?

  34. Nev mc dowell says:

    Having ongoing problems with Horizion Box.Screen goes blank,sound stops for a couple of seconds,recordings freeze.Company says my Philips two year old telly is the problem.Are these problems ongoing as the company won’t answer my question.If so I am not held to contract as they are selling me something ‘fit for purpose’ and will move.Any suggestions please.

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