Tata Sky finally has a recorder that can play and record HD content. OK, so it’s not full HD, but 1080i is better than nothing at all. The Tata Sky technicians graciously set it up for us in our lab and although it took over half a day to make the necessary arrangements, it was done.
The USB slot in the front which has no current use
Now that we’ve had the set-top box for a week or so, let's see if it really is worth the buy.
Design and Features
The box itself is quite sleek, although larger than the regular set top boxes with a glossy black finish and a silver base. Of course, they had to add the HD tag at the bottom right. The right side of the box has a flip down panel, which reveals the smart card slot as well as a USB slot. Now the USB slot doesn’t seem to really have a purpose, as I did insert a pen drive with no result. The box also has an Ethernet port at the back which has no current use.
Now you can record HD content
We hooked up the box to the Philips 6000 Series Full HD TV as well as the Dell ST2420L Full HD monitor via HDMI. Keep in mind that the box has an output of 16:9 as well as 4:3, so resolution is maintained. The HD transmission is in 1080i, whihc is not full HD but a step below it. Sadly, there's only a small list of HD channels provided These include National Geographic, Discovery and Star Plus, although the latter is currently just upscaled. What’s nice is that cricket is also being shown in HD and surprisingly without ad breaks. Apart from this and a few movies that fall into the VOD (video on demand) category, everything else is pretty much in standard definition.
The view from behind
One bonus is that the Tata Sky + HD come loaded with a 500GB internal hard drive which is plenty of space to record your favorite shows. What Tata claims is up to 625 hours of standard definition content. That’s nothing to sneeze at but don’t expect the same amount of content in HD seeing as file size is so much larger. An additional function is the ability to record up to 2 shows simultaneously however the catch is you’ll have to be watching one of them at the time. Movies in the ‘Showcase’ section can also be recorded, but you’ll have to make sure you watch them within 24 hours of purchase. 25 hours and it’s gone, that’s not enough time sometimes. Of course one has to wonder why you’d buy a movie and not watch it. Then again someone else in your home could buy it and save it for you.
The remote control for the set-top box is more or less the same as the previous model with a couple of added buttons for recording/playback etc.
The set top box and remote are really easy to use. I had no problem figuring out how to record on the fly or even according to the timer. Whatever I did watch in HD on National Gepographic and Discovery was really good and without any glitches. I even tried recording on the fly, as well as timing it, I found the recording quality to be pretty decent. But I did notice a few discrepancies here and there such as a little pixelation and breaks in the audio, which should not happen.
A good product that just needs a little time
The price tag on the Tata Sky + HD is Rs. 3,999 with monthly plans starting at Rs. 150. Here’s something that could be a real deal breaker for a few potential subscribers planning to upgrade services – You’ll end up with two boxes. There’s no way to exchange your older box and of course you can’t be gracious and pass it along to a friend, since it’s registered to you, your only recourse is to use it in another room.
The bottom line is, it’s still an upgrade or purchase you should consider but at a later date, when more HD channels are made available. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before more HD channels are introduced, but who’s to say when that will happen? But for those who want to be prepared, the Tata Sky + HD set-top box is a no brainer. Buy it, install it and get ready to start recording.
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Oct 28, 2016