Philips launches the Philips Intelligent Agent for optical drives

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Whenever a consumer purchases a new DVD writer, the firmware included on the DVD writer will have the optimal write strategy for majority of media available at the time the firmware was made.  As media manufacturers release new improved media, the firmware in the DVD writer will not know the optimal write strategy for this, which means that the disc may not be written as well as it could be, not to mention be limited to a maximum write speed of around 4x depending on the drive’s method of unknown media.  While virtually all DVD manufacturers offer firmware updates to offer support for new media as well as provide bug fixes and other improvements, most consumers are either unaware that they should regularly check for firmware updates or don’t know where to go about looking for updated firmware, never mind trying to install it.

Well, Philips has let us know they have launched a new user-friendly firmware update software, the Philips Intelligent Agent, which is designed to automate the full process of looking for, downloading and installing firmware updates.  When the “Check for updates” button is pressed, it looks online for what firmware is available, compares it to what is installed on the Philips optical drive and then reports whether new firmware is available.  If so, all the user has to do is click ‘Download’ and the agent will download the latest firmware for the drive and install it.  If you copy, please show appreciation by linking back to CD Freaks.
To cater for novice users, the agent can automatically handle different types of internet access including proxy based connections and can also run as a system tray icon in which it will periodically check for updates.  The software supports all operating systems from Windows 98 on and handles internal and USB external Philips optical drives.  It will also automatically check the firmware of hot pluggable philips optical drives when they are connected.

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What is the Philips Intelligent Agent?

The Philips Intelligent Agent is a tool which helps you to keep your Philips drives up to date. It automatically offers the correct download for your optical device without searching through long lists. Updates are now at your fingertips! 

Why should I use it?

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Even after releasing a device, we continue to improve our products and even add some functionality to the device. In the past, you had to visit this website from time to time to see if there was something new for your device. The Philips Intelligent Agent helps you by automatically notifying you when updates are available for your product. Can it be easier? 

Further details supplied to us by Philips:

  • Detects and verifies if all attached Philips Optical storage devices attached to the PC are up-to-date without the need to identify the product.
  • Ability to periodically checks for new updates (every 15 days by default)
    • A balloon appears from the system tray if an update is available
  • Detection for hot pluggable USB based products
  • Easy to maintain
    • The program performs a self-check for newly added devices as well as for updates for the program itself
  • Multiple language support which can be easily toggled
  • Supports existing operating systems from Windows 98 on and is prepared to work with the upcoming Windows VISTA
  • Easy to use
    • Only one screen for overview and one screen for settings (cd freaks news)
    • Overview of all attached Philips Optical Drives with a clear current status in colour
    • Handles various internet access configurations including proxy servers and makes it transparent to inexperienced users.
    • System tray icon & status colour
    • A balloon appears only in the event up an update at the time of the periodic check
    • Bypasses administrator rights for consumers
    • Handles multiple user accounts
  • Provides a link to Club Philips registration & Philips storage site (registration is not required to use the agent)

As the average consumer would not be aware that they can update their writer’s firmware, it is nice to see that Philips is trying to make it clear that consumers should keep their CD/DVD writer’s firmware up-to-date for optimal write performance as well as eliminating any discovered bugs.  While they will be including this update agent with the software CD that comes with future optical drive products, it will be interesting to see if there will be a notice displayed advising consumers to install the agent when they insert the included software CD.

The following image shows an example of the balloon that appears with Windows XP or later when new updates are available:

On earlier operating systems that don’t support balloons, the main application dialogue will appear when updates are available.  The process of checking for updates occurs after a five minute delay of starting Windows and after the periodic update period has expired (default of 14 days).  Should the update check fail, it will retry every five minutes until the update check completes successfully.

Source: Philips – Consumer Products

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