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Disturbing trend?

One thing that has started to concern me over the past few months is the way that new hardware is introduced and then delivered, followed by a stream of firmware updates that are "Hot Fixes" and only available from tech support.This causes me concern on two different levels. First is the fact that the hot fixes are needed. I can see that there is sometimes a need for a minimally tested update that would be required to address an immediate need, but these seem to be more common lately and it seems to take quite a long time to see a real production-worthy firmware release. Maybe this has always been an issue, but lately the hot-fix releases are listed in the latest firmware list instead of hidden away like a dark secret. My other concern is that as an independent programmer who generally works for established AV integrators, I choose not to pay the annual tech support fee. I do this for a couple of reasons. One is that in the past I just didn't ever need to call tech support. More recently I have had to call, but generally get someone from the AV integrator to make the call and jump through the hoops, then I end up talking to the tech support rep. It would be much easier if I could call, say I was working on a project for company xyz, give the dealer number and get support, but that doesn't seem possible in the pay-as-you go model that we now must use.

I was with a customer today who was very much down on AMX today due to support issues. Their belief was the AMX sold equipment that was not ready for prime time, then tried to make up for it by supplying hot fixes that caused more problems than they fixed, and then both AMX and the integrator basically gave up on them when the warranty was out. He said that he was looking forward to the day that the DGX died so he could replace it with an Extron switch.

This was for a system that was less then two years old, cost them thousands of dollars for hardware, and now everything AMX in the system is obsolete. This includes the NI-3100, the DGX 16x16, and four touch panels.

I was forced to admit that over the years I have seen a decline in both the quality of the products and in the support areas and that I was starting to have reservations about being able to maintain steady work as an AMX programmer. These customers are big businesses and government agencies, so they are willing and able to spend the big bucks, but they want something that works.

An example of a disconnect that I have seen are the new G5 touch panels. They are attractive, slick, and have lots of features. But most of the new features depend on internet connectivity to work. Most large corporations and all government installations that I have worked on will not have their AV system able to connect to the internet. So when they are sold the new, expensive G5 panels I end up dumbing them down without any of the apps or connectivity features. In most cases, I don't even have a network time server available to keep the time accurate on the masters because all of the AV equipment is on a separate, isolated network. Some companies will set up a VLAN for the equipment which at least lets me get the time from the local router, but I never see internet access.

I see the residential guys complaining that AMX has deserted them, and I see that the customers I have can't/won't use the new features, so who is AMX designing this stuff for? My customers want systems that are simple and reliable. Every now and then I will go into a site that has old Accent3 or NXI systems that have been running non-stop for years. And then I go into a site like the one today with relatively new equipment that has to be worked on monthly to keep it running.

Sorry about being so negative, but I'm starting to question the direction that my career is going.


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    viningvining Posts: 4,368
    Sucks doesn't it, you spend so much time and effort mastering your skills just to look around one day to realize your on a dead end road and the company that led you there is no where in sight.
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    DHawthorneDHawthorne Posts: 4,584
    vining wrote: »
    Sucks doesn't it, you spend so much time and effort mastering your skills just to look around one day to realize your on a dead end road and the company that led you there is no where in sight.

    Couldn't have put it better myself. Diversify while you can, Danny.
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    AuserAuser Posts: 506
    Sadly I have to agree with every point made. I used to be a staunch advocate for AMX equipment because of the engineering quality and stability of the products, but AMX has made a 180 degree turn.

    I would like to say that we don't have any customers who have been affected by the introduction of the DXLink gear and have been left with the sour taste in their mouth that Danny's customer has, but again, sadly, I don't think this is true.
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    rfletcherrfletcher Posts: 217
    From what I recall, hotfixes have always been available from tech support only, it's just that now they mention them on the firmware page sometimes (but still not all the time). I think they only get mentioned when it's a fix for an issue they have been getting lots of calls about. Generally tech support will tell you not to load hot-fix firmware unless you are experiencing one of the problems it addresses, as it may cause other problems.
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    Yes, rfletcher, they have always been available only from tech support (as far back as I can remember). In the past, the existence of a particular hot fix was only known through the rumor mill. My biggest complaint at this point now is that these days it seems they come out over and over again for the same products, and that we never seem to see a production-worthy release come out. A new product is released and there is a string of hot fixes. What happened to beta testing new products? Now they seem to go instantly into production and the integrators, programmers, and customers test them in production. This means extra trips to the customer's site, extra calls to tech support, and a loss of confidence in AMX by both the customers and the people who are trying to support it.
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    ErikMeyerErikMeyer Posts: 8
    I too have been disappointed by the trends you mention. However, I try to get around this by discouraging the use of "bleeding edge" AMX product (or from any other manufacturer at that). To date, that list would still include the G5 panels. The NX series I have been paying with a bit lately and it seems to work rather well, with some few gotchas, though not enough to discourage using it in my case.

    As another poster mentioned - diversify your talents. Learn Cr35tr0n, learn an OO language - prepare yourself for the inevitable shifts coming in the industry.
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