So we’ve taken you through the various aspects of today’s HD DTH market in the country. Now meet the top contenders in the industry.
TATA Sky HD
One of the first DTH service providers, Tata Sky has been known for its DTH service for a few years now. Presently, the company broadcasts only two infotainment channels and one pay-perview channel in HD, but promises many more in the near future. The set-top box is compact and looks elegant compared to its bulky, non-HD sibling. Its little IR remote control is highly responsive, rugged and ergonomically designed with a very firm grip. It features average-sized buttons and a good layout, which makes all the functions very easy to locate and access without too much trouble. The HD STB performs at par with others in terms of video quality.
The user interface is very simple and easy to navigate, and the color scheme is soothing and very readable. Finding your favorite program through the guide and setting up favorites and schedules is also very simple. The UI is translucent and covers just a quarter of the screen area. The company logo is translucent enough too and almost blends in to with background video. Even though Tata Sky supplies upgraded firmware on the HD STBs, the company has not yet managed to increase the number of favorite channels, which still stands at a low 20. Another downside is that unlike the competition, the remote is not universal.
It takes an average of two seconds to change between channels. The overall sensitivity of the remote and the navigation speed of the interface have helped Tata Sky’s STB earn the highest score when compared to the competition. New customers can enjoy a low price with two months' free subscription to the HD channels. Existing subscribers can upgrade, but do not get any buy-back for their old hardware.
Verdict – The performance and usability are outstanding.
For – Great ergonomics, simple and speedy user interface, easy to operate.
Against – Only 20 favorite channels, no universal remote.
The term TruHD seems a little misleading even though it delivers video broadcast resolutions similar to other HD DTH providers. The only added advantage Dish TV has over the others is the additional HD channels it offers: Zee TV HD and Zee Cinema HD. The set-top box has a diamond-finish glossy front panel, which scores a tad low on aesthetics. The hardware is similar to what is provided by other services, but this one has its share of pros and cons. On the plus side, the rear panel sports an optical S/PDIF port, which can deliver higher quality audio with minimal distortion. But the front control panel sports only power and channel up/down buttons, due to which using or setting-up the STB without the remote control is next to impossible.
The remote control is pretty large and not very well designed; the number keys are on the top, making it a little awkward when changing channels directly using the channel numbers. However, the remote control sensitivity is good and it features a few functions that other STB remote controls don’t: the sleep timer, language and account hotkeys are very convenient. Similar to that of Tata Sky, the user interface is simple and easy to navigate through. The favorite channels are easy to set up and you can set as many as you like. The information bar has a blue background with white text, making it easily legible.
The startup time of the STB is quite long, taking almost 68 seconds to power up. And the ergonomically deficient remote and control panel make things a bit sluggish. Evaluating the overall features, performance and ergonomics, his one comes in second place in the Value rankings.
Verdict – Dish TruHD is also a good choice as the company currently offers the largest number of HD channels.
For – Optical audio out, more HD channels, sleep timer.
Against – Poorly designed remote control, prone to scratches, deficient control panel on the STB.