Just wanted to quickly retrieve them, but as always staid too long talking about everything.
He had some interesting information about the Tron LE and parallel imports.
(all this I have just been told, haven't seen/checked/confirmed it myself, but it's a reliable source so I don't think any of this is incorrect information)
UPDATE: not a rumour - Stern does ship USB keys with updates.
Seems Stern is doing more and more to try to prevent grey import.
Not that Stern is completely successful, as in Europe there are USA Sterns being sold that are switched from 50/60Hz.
The cpu will detect if it's in the wrong continent (Europe or USA) and give an error message. So you can't just buy a Stern pinball machine in the USA, export it to Europe, plug it in (after converting to 220v) and expect the game to work.
Some dealers hack the
Problem is, this voids your warranty. If you buy a Stern pinball machine from one of these dealers because it's cheaper, if you ever have a problem with the cpu, you'll pay much more.. (unless the seller will back it up and replace it for you, which may be for the first months, but don't expect replacement warranty after a year or more..)
You can't go trough official channels to have the cpu repaired. Can't send it in Europe for repair as the serial number isn't registered for being sold in Europe.. You'll have to send it back to the dealer in Canada where it came from, but he can't send it back to Stern as they'll detect the 50/60Hz hack and will not repair the board.
So your warranty is only as good as the repair skills and goodwill of the dealer where you bought the game from.
Now this hasn't stopped people from buying these games. After all, big cpu problems don't often happen.
But when it would ever happen, the only way to get your game working is to buy a new European cpu board, which will cost you a lot more than what you saved by buying not from an official dealer.
It seems Stern has added some extra security steps with Tron LE.
Not just to prevent parallel import, but also to make the difference between the Pro and LE version bigger.
The LE games have a different cpu. Haven't seen one myself, but there should be a physical difference.
An LE cpu can only work in an LE game and accept LE rom updates.
Do not expect like with Shrek/Family Guy that you can upload any rom update and the game will accept this and work.
Only the Pro version rom will be available at Sterns website. This will not work on an LE model (and you wouldn't want this to work anyway as it would not do anything with the extra hardware you get on an LE and which is why you paid more for the game).
The LE rom image will not be available for download at all on Sterns website.
New versions will be distributed on USB sticks, one for each game. These sticks are sent to the dealers that bought the games, which in turn have to send them to their customers.
It seems the usb stick can only be used once and the pinball machine will delete the rom image on the stick once it's been updated.
OK as an IT guy I have my doubts about this security - files on usb sticks are easy to copy, don't know how hard the security will be for the pinball cpu to detect the correct stick is used and to use a similar cpu stick. But at least you need access to one original usb stick before you can try to copy them..
But anyway, suppose Stern is successful with this usb copy protection - it can be a huge problem for parallel import dealers.
If you ever want to upgrade the rom version of your LE game (and you probably will, given Sterns history), you cannot do this yourself anymore.
You have to hope that the dealer you bought it from, got enough usb sticks from his source, and provide one (for free ?) to you, and hope it works on your hacked cpu board. That's a lot of risk to take.
Your other option; keep the game forever on the rom it shipped with and be frustrated that people who spend a few $100 more get official upgrades with more rules, bugfixes, sound effects, animations, and whatever else that is possible with new rom versions..