DVDR985, 4x discs, and firmware upgrade

You can possibly add me to this list. I have the DVDR985A03 with firmware version FF12j with a manu date of March 2003, purchase in/on about May 2003. It has worked fine for me with the exception a few coaster early on. It is not used very extensively, just to time shift WB and UPN from Dish Network and to archive the occasional show off my DirecTV DVR.

Anyway, recently it has started to not recognize blank +R discs or previously recorded ones for that matter. It is still playing DVDs and +RWs. I do not get any error code other than the NO DISC message.

I’m not sure what the latest firmware version is or whether I want to attempt an upgrade. I downloaded the latest version from the Philips website. The site said v6.3 for the file dvdr985a_fus_eng.zip.

BTW, I’ve come here from the old DVD Plus forum.

Welcome from the old forum…

Unfortunately it sounds like your machine is on the way out, in starting to refuse +Rs. However if you’ve recently bought 4x or higher-speed discs it could be having a problem with them, as your firmware version is relatively old.

The latest version always on the Philips site, and for your machine should end up being reported as ‘ff12x’. Unfortunately, as you will know from information on the old forum, upgrading firmware may not be straightforward and you may need prepare for a downgrade if it doesn’t work.

Thanks for the info. These disc are the same batch that worked before. But, on a good note, I did the restart (unplug, replug with standby switch pushed) and it is now working again. This unit passes through the audio/video on the EXT1/2 inputs while off and that also stopped working. All is fine now. The question is for how long?

The downgrade option is what bothered me about upgrading, I don’t have an older version available. In fact, I think the FF12j version was an interim version. Too bad there isn’t a way to wriute the older version off before you do the upgrade. :slight_smile:

BTW, what happens internally that would cause the unit to come back after a restart? Is there a NVROM that gets restored or what?

Glad to hear the factory reset worked - is that the first time you’ve done that? There could be many reasons why it did the trick, but as you know is usually recommended for all electronic equipment that is problematic and refractory to analysis.

If everything works now, then there doesn’t seem to be a reason to update the firmware so I would leave it alone and see what happens. To my knowledge ff12j wasn’t made available outside Philips.

Other, possibly useful older firmware versions are here if you need them…

Yeah, I won’t try the upgrade until the time this untis won’t respond to other methods.

Would you recommend that I go to the next version which I believe if FF12o (if a read that site correctly) before going to FF12x?

Do you know how to get the optical engine version from the same System -> Tools page that has the firmware version on?

It’ll be the “BE xx.x.xx” sequence…

EDIT: Forget that, if you used to be “JDS”… I can see you’ve been through it before! If it goes wrong then indeed you could try going up through the firmwares one by one.

An update on my DVDR985.

Recently I bought spindle of Memorex DVD+RWs which are 4x speed. When using them I would get “Disc Error” displayed, but it seemed to continue recording. A few times no menu would show after the recording, yet the disc played in my laptop. So I decided it was time to download the lastest firmware. It was at 12j and is now 12r. I’ll try a couple of recordings to see what happens.

BTW, When a “Disc Error” occurs what is the usual cause behind it?
Bad batch of blanks? Optical Engine starting to go? Would a cleaning of the head help?

Next update for all who may be interested.

I still get “Disc Error” when using Memorex 4x blanks.

The Verbatim’s seem to be okay.

There’s a more recent version of firmware: ff12x, for the DVDR985. Have a look on the Philips site. It’s possible that you’ll need it to use the higher speed discs - however some people have previously reported that its effectiveness varies between disc brands.

Thanks for the info. But, when I tried that version from the Philips site, I get “File Empty” shown on the display and it doesn’t update (Obviously). That’s when I went back to a previous version I had (12r). I just tried again with the same result above. The previous version has 35 files and the latest only 30. Now this may be okay, but something is missing. The file name from the Philips site is the same as what I reported in post #65 above.

Yes, I know we keep sporadically revisiting this problem, and I keep forgetting where we were! I’ll try to tease out the relevant posts and form a new thread, as it would be useful to others attempting the same thing.

The “File Empty” message seems to be an error in the updating process, rather than indicating that you already have the latest firmware. There were numerous solutions to the problem on the old forum, but a more logical approach was found here. You should still be able to get to ff12x.

Can you try that and see whether it works for you?

That thread you linked to is an interesting read. I found a 12w upgrade in an older file and am currently upgrading to it. No error messages and it seems to be doing its thing. I’ll then try the several items in that above thread and see what happens.

Is there a list/file somewhere that tells what each upgrade fixed or added?

I see that 12w now allows 8 hour recording mode. Now that just isn’t right. :disagree: I don’t like the PQ with 4 or 6. Now 8 has to be awful. But, if I can record to the Memorex discs, I’ll be happy. Other than getting 12x to load, what does it offer over 12w?

Unfortunately Philips never released the usual ‘read.me’ information which documented the improvements or bug fixes that would be experienced on older machines (even though they seem to be doing it for the newer DVDR610 or HDRW720 firmware).

My DVDR880 came back from repair in the UK with ff12w+ on board, but after its rapid repair failure had ff12x subsequently added to the third laser assembly. Without specific Philips information it’s difficult to draw conclusions about the later firmwares, but I don’t think ff12w+ had much over ff12x.

The addition of the extra recording mode was only for the US machines, IIRC. As you will no doubt be able to verify, it must be horrendous quality.

I think I’ll leave well enough alone if 12w prevents disc errors that I was getting on the Memorex 4x blanks. Can I assume that I have 12w+ since it reports 12w*?

Yes - sorry, it is actually 12w*; rather than 12+

Well, so far I’m having mixed results. I was able to record on a Memorex disc without “disc error” or “disc warn” errors. However, after the recording completed, the menu was empty. Not with the first recording, but after the second one. But, the recordings were there when I put the disc in my notebook computer. We’ll see what happens after the scheduled recording on a Verbatim disc. Stay tuned.

Another update.

All seems to be working well with firmware version ff12w* on my DVDR985.

Excellent, JDS. Thanks for keeping us updated on your progress.

Any chance you could post a brief account of what you did try (old firmware versions, or edited zip files from Philips), and what eventually worked? It would be useful for a future FAQ…

Well, it had ff12j originally, which was an interim version. I didn’t want to do anything since it was working at the time. I downloaded “r” a while back, but didn’t load it. Then later I got what was “r” and “w”. When I started having problems with the newer blanks I decided it was time to try an upgrade. See above. So I found “x” and tried that and I had the problem with “empty file”. I tried a different version, “r”, it loaded but still had the disc errors. Tried a fresh download of “x”, still wouldn’t load. Found I had a “w” and tried that with the success I’ve reported here. This is actually ff12w* and it is working very well. So, until it starts to screw up again, I see no need to try the methods of getting “x” to load.

This weekend I plan to try recording in 8hr mode to see how bad it looks. :cool:

OK thanks - I was just wondering whether you eventually fiddled with the upgrade file contents as per the old forum details.

Good luck with the rest of your recording schedules!