Bell ExpressVu 9200: Caller ID feature doesn’t work

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Bell Satellite
October 30th, 2005 • 11:03 am

This problem is very simple to describe. Normally, your BellExpressVu is permanently connected to a phone line (for ordering pay-per-view events automatically via the remote control). Since there is this permanent connection, BellExpressVu have added a feature on the PVR receivers that let them display the Caller ID information on the screen while you’re watching TV whenever somebody calls you (if your phone subscription includes Caller ID, of course).

This is a convenient, and we had it on on our previous PVR unit, the 5800.

When we got our 9200 unit, I immediately turned the feature on on that new receiver. (The feature is off by default.) But it didn’t work. Once in a blue moon, we would get a “Number not available” message displayed on the screen (even for numbers that were readily available), but most of the time nothing would be displayed at all when a call was incoming.

I initially thought I just had a defective unit. But then, soon after we got our 9200 receiver, we had to get a replacement unit because of a major noise problem. We got the replacement unit, I set it up, there was no noise problem with the new unit (much to our relief!)—but the Caller ID feature still wasn’t working.

I got on the phone again with Bell ExpressVu and after trying to make me go through a battery of tests and hearing my analysis of the situation, they agreed that it sounded like a problem with the software. They went to speak to their technicians and when they came back, they confirmed that it was a “known problem” with the software on the new receivers. They told me it would be fixed in an upcoming software update.

Of course, they couldn’t tell me when the software would be updated. (It is updated automatically without user intervention, unless you switch the automatic software update feature off in your system preferences.) That was in August. Today is October 30. I am afraid it takes them a lot of time to update their software.

(With our previous 5800 unit, there was at one point a serious bug that would cause event timers to fail altogether. At the time the PVR unit was supposed to come on and start recording, it would just come on, but not record anything. We missed quite a few shows because of this. I complained, as usual, and they acknowledged that this was a know problem and that it would be fixed in a software update “as soon as possible.” It still took them a couple of months, if I remember correctly. Fortunately, through experimentation, I found a work-around, which was to leave the PVR unit on whenever it had an event timer that was supposed to come on in the coming hours. For some reason, if the PVR unit was left on, the event timer worked as expected—most of the time, anyway. This is not standard behaviour. Normally, you are supposed to turn your PVR off. But in this case leaving on would work around the bug. Eventually, they did release a software update—without telling us, of course—and the problem was fixed.)

Modern pieces of equipement such as PVR units are, in effect, computer-based systems that are designed to handle a variety of tasks. (It’s a variety of tasks that is much more limited than what you can do with an actual computer, but it’s still complex enough to involve a large number of possible scenarios, all with their own potential problems.) As such, they suffer from the same flaws as computers, i.e. defective hardware (occasionally) and software bugs (more much frequently). Fortunately, software bugs can be fixed through software updates. Unfortunately, the process for identifying, reporting, and fixing these bugs still leaves a lot to be desired.

3 Responses to “Bell ExpressVu 9200: Caller ID feature doesn’t work”

  1. tigger06 says:

    Your caller id may be working now. mine started working last nite. I have been bugging Expressvu for some time about this. Here’s the last answer.
    “You will be please to know that the model 9200 displays caller ID when
    caller ID service is subscribed to.

    Customers who subscribe to the Caller ID feature through the telephone
    service provider can now take advantage of this feature.
    The name and number of the incoming call will be displayed on the
    television screen once the feature is enabled on Menu 6-1-2. The
    receiver will only pick up information from calls coming in on the
    standard single ring. Meaning calls witch produce any type of
    distinctive rings (i.e. Ident-A-Call or long distance) will not
    register. The Caller ID feature will not function with visual call
    Tested it today and still working. Last e-mail from them said “Regretfully, currently there is no time frame set for the caller ID
    feature to be activated with the receiver 9200. We appreciate your
    understanding and patience.” The first quote is a reply for my reply to Expressvu for the second quote. This is my third 9200, the first two failed and have had a number of problems – many of which seem to be solved by shutting it off, pulling the plug, removing the cables, waiting and then hooking it up again. Biggest problem is getting consistent widescreen on my Plasma tv which can accept 1080 or 720 signals. and aspect ratio is 16:9 If I set the receiver on 1080i and 16:9 only channels in widescreen are pbs and discovery and tv spends a lot of time searching for a signal. With the receiver on 720 and 4×3 #1 received a really good picture until the receiver went into standby and then I had to change to 4×3#2 to get widescreen. Ability to use the format button is lost on HD channels. Anybody got similar or other problems and solutions??

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    I am afraid the Caller ID feature is still not working for me. I occasionally see a number displayed on the screen, but it’s always “UNKNOWN NUMBER.” And when I look at the Caller ID history, I see that all the calls intercepted are for “UNKNOWN NUMBER” and they only represent a fraction of all the calls actually received during that time.

  3. tigger06 says:

    Still working on my unit. Keep bugging BEV until they do something. Seems to be a number of bugs in the 9200 and they probably wont do anything unless they get tired of people bothering them.

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