The DTH service market is abuzz (More like on fire) with many HD channels being offered. And with people moving to HD televisions sets, it’s quite obvious that you need to have a good DTH service in place of your existing cable TV connection. It looks like Reliance is taking this segment quite seriously and have come out with their Big TV HD DVR which not only provides HD content but also allows recording media.
Design and Features
The Big TV set top box (STB) is just like any ordinary STB. The metal casing gives it a solid look and feel. However, there’s nothing much added to the box’s design.
Well built, but an average design
At the back of the box there are ports for Component, Composite, HDMI and SPDIF. Also there is a USB port, an RJ45 port, an RF Out port and two LNB Input ports to connect the box to the dish. The USB port is not meant to play movies from your pen drive, rather its meant for storing more content into it. The Ethernet port doesn't have any use for now but in the future it might come in handy to watch IP TV.
A 160 GB Hard Disk Drive
The remote control bundled with has been built well which means that it can sustain a few falls. It feels quite big and bulky, but that’s not much of an issue. The good thing is that the soft buttons have been laid out well and after a few minutes, you’ll easily get accustomed to it.
This is probably one of the biggest issues with this STB. Leaving aside a couple of screens here and there, the whole interface is completely red. Add to that the sluggish browsing through menus and waiting really long for various menus to appear on the screen, the whole experience is quite boring and can be a little irritating as well.
Coming to some slightly better features is that the remote has options like Select, Cinema, Interaction and Guide. The Select option will give you a whole category of channels to select from, so if you’re only looking for Movies then you just select one of your subscribed channels from the Movies category. While testing this piece, I could only see the Movies section and there wasn’t any option to browse through various categories.
The Cinema button will take you to the pay per movie channels where you can select one of the movies that Reliance is playing. The Interaction category has games and shopping channels like HomeShop18 and you can also access the iConcerts (and iConcerts HD) channels to watch one of the pre-recorded concerts. Finally, the Guide button will list out all your subscribed channels.
(Don't) Gimme red!
There’s a Media Content button where you can access all the various shows that you have recorded in the Digital Video Recorder of this box. Speaking of recording, the Big TV HD DVR can record approximately 200 hours of content which seems to be sufficient enough. On the remote control, there are buttons for recording, fast forwarding, play/pause shows while you’re watching them. So if you’ve missed a particular scene in a movie or an important part of a match, you can simply rewind to catch up from that very moment.
I tried many channels on the Big TV HD DVR. Right from your regular channels to other HD channels that I could access. It should be noted that the content you get through these services are not Full HD, i.e. 1080p. Like all other DTH services, these are 1080i (interlaced scanning) streams. Leaving all the technical jargon aside, the HD channels looked a lot better than the regular channels. However, there were some instances of jitter observed as well.
Ports include HDMI, SPDIF and others
Recording content is quite easy and you can schedule recording a show from one particular channel while you’re simultaneously watching another channel. Also, if you want to catch a good movie or your favorite TV soap, you can do so by scheduling the STB to record from a particular channel and switch off your TV as well.
While HD content on your TV is great, as mentioned earlier Big TV is not the only service out there. Apart from interface and performance, it’s essential that you have a good package as well. If you’re buying an HD DVR, it’s quite likely that you’re looking forward to some HD content. One of the major difference lies in the package that each of these services provide.
With the Reliance Big TV box, you pay Rs. 27 for one HD channel. These include Nat Geo, Star Sports, Star Plus and Star Movies, which translates to Rs. 108 for four HD channels. Videocon’s D2H also offers four HD channels which are Nat Geo, Discovery, Travel XP and Movies Now. However, they are included in a pack of 254 channels and the total package will cost a minimum of Rs. 345 per month. Even Airtel will charge you a maximum of Rs.20 for an HD channel.
For me the only good competition to Reliance Big TV is the Tata Sky+ HD DVR. You get seven HD channels for Rs. 50 per month. Given that the other channels might cost you about Rs. 100-200 more; the fact is that you’re getting more HD channels at a lesser price. If you’re very keen on HD with DVR, Tata Sky+ seems to be a lot better than the Big TV. If you are not hell bent on recording shows, you can also check out Dish TV’s TruHD which will cost about Rs. 550 per month, but has 35 HD channels to offer.
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