It’s been a couple of weeks since the long awaited new Sky HD EPG made it’s way onto my box. Considering all the fanfare about it I’ve been fairly ambivalent about it, so much so I couldn’t be bothered even posting about it. A tweet tonight about ITV HD has nudged me along though.
The ability to watch ITV HD on Sky is the biggest new feature for me. Before the update, ITV HD was available only on FreeSat and only via the red button service – it’s not an actual channel which when you realise how little is broadcast in HD is understandable. To watch it on Sky (new EPG only) you need to do the following:
- Press services button > System set up > Add channels
- Change the Freq to 11427
- Change polarisation to H
- Leave symbol rate @ 27.5
- Leave FEC at 2/3
- Press select to find channel
- New channels will appear , TV and radio , scroll to the one marked Channel 10510
- Press yellow to store it , press select , press select press back up , press back up.
- Scroll down to other channels , highlight 10510 and press select to view.
Not easy and it’s a few button presses to access the channel each time. Then again, Champions League in HD tonight and FA Cup semi-finals in HD this weekend. Nice. Quality is excellent too which makes a big difference compared to the pixelated mess that ITV usually is on Sky.
Other important changes – the EPG is now in HD and much clearer than the old one. It’s also added a mini display. However it cuts off half the display if enabled and also plays the sound from the currently selected channel. This has caught me out already – last weeks Apprentice was recording while I watched the football. Went into the EPG to select it and start watching and I see the three boys sitting in the boardroom. Even worse, disabling the mini tv doesn’t sound the TV channel sound off so you can still hear spoilers. Bit daft on Sky’s part.
Your series recordings are now displayed in stacks in the EPG. Makes sense for me but another daft feature is that the stack isn’t just per series but per series and channel. Miss a recording on BBC1 and record on BBC3 instead will see two different stacks for the same series. Can’t see this affecting me as I don’t build up a lot of recordings but it is a real pain for some which could have been avoided.
HD programs can now be highlighted in the EPG – handy when browsing what’s on. Speaking of which, now and next is a lot better on the new EPG with full info on each program without going in to the EPG. About time.
Despite these additions though the downside is that it feels a bit slower in use and that’s on my box with not much recorded. Some reports in forums from users with lot’s recorded say it is way slower than before. I’m also convinced that to watch recordings it takes more button presses than before. If it doesn’t it certainly feels that way. Considering it’s been in development for so long it’s a shame that usability seems to have suffered. Overall it’s a benefit having the new EPG but still feels like a missed opportunity.
I think it’s around two years since TV shows were first available on iTunes in the USA. Finally some content was made available to purchase in the UK this week. First thing you notice is how little there is – it’s all American and there’s not much off it. There’s rumours of BBC and Channel 4 content to come later but there’s nothing at the moment.
Then you notice the price. It’s high. Â£1.89 per episode. That would be Â£43.47 for Lost series 3 which sounds a lot but the whole series can be bought on iTunes for a reduced price of Â£32.99. Currently the box set is available on Amazon for Â£44.98 so there are savings to be made however it’s almost double the American price, like most things here in the UK. While I’m saying there are savings to be made on DVD’s, that’s for latest box sets only. Earlier box sets are available for much less than the iTunes price, and would you really want to pay more for lesser quality?
I’ve just spent Â£1.89 to test just how good the iTunes TV shows look. Continue reading
Sky’s much lauded new feature Sky Anytime was finally made available to Sky HD customers today with Sky+ boxes to follow soon. Launch the TV Guide and press the red button to access the Sky Anytime content. Downloaded overnight and refreshing daily it will showcase Sky’s ‘best’ content and allow you to access this at anytime. Finally the missing 140GB from my Sky box is being used.
It probably also explains why my HD box fans have been on at 6AM for the last few days. I thought it was a buggy firmware release but this makes more sense. One nice aspect of this content is there are no DOG’s or adverts. While I was initially sceptical it is a nice way of catching some shows that I may have missed, especially some of the one off shows. There’s just too many channels to keep track off. It’s also free which is pretty rare for Sky.
However if I do turn it off I would have loved the option to reclaim the 140GB for my normal recordings. It’s also a bit weird how much SD content is included for Sky HD users. Finally, does it download or record off the channels as the programs are broadcast? I guess that doesn’t really matter. For the moment I’ll keep it enabled and review the content on offer. If it’s offering content outside my normal viewing then it will be worthwhile. If not then at least my box will resume it’s normal quiet life overnight.
Today, the 22nd of January is allegedly the most depressing day of the year. Considering that is a scientific fact today’s turned out not too bad.
Firstly Sky have fixed my dish – it had moved less than 1 cm during the New Year winds and it took them three weeks but I’m now back in the game. Woo hoo!
I took the day off to wait in for the Sky guys. Normally there is nothing on TV but I had the fortune of watching the Murray vs Nadal match which the BBC had cleared their schedules to broadcast. What a game. Great to watch and a shame that Murray ran out of steam towards the end.
I also got my new host sorted. After looking at a number of options (Dreamhost, Media Temple, Site 5 and a couple of other UK based hosts) I went with A Small Orange. Like 34sp they seem to be customer focussed rather than in the business of overselling. Great website support and busy forums were a good sign. Once the hosting was setup I got things up and running without any issue. Just waiting for the DNS propagation to take place. I logged a call to enable shell access this afternoon. It took 4 minutes for them to do the task and reply. Great service. We’ll see how performance and downtime go over the coming months but I have high hopes that I won’t see any issues.
Finally the fence is all fixed up now. Just need to paint the bugger in the Spring. Can’t wait 🙂
So, returned from Peterborough yesterday and it looks like it was a bit stormier up here than I thought. Firstly I’ve got some fence damage. A year and a half ago we replaced 75% of our fencing. The last 25% was with a neighbour who claimed that it was their fence and it was fine. Well, one of the fine panels was smashed to bits on Hogmanay.
Upshot is that they would like ME to get in touch with the fencing guy I used and arrange for him to replace OUR old fence. I’m not that bothered as it would be good to get it done but would have much preferred to do it a couple of years back. Hey ho.
Switched on the Sky box late last night – dead. No signal from the dish. Checked the recordings and it’s been buggered since Hogmanay. As Darth would say…..’Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo’. Thats the original Star Wars films in HD missed but more importantly last nights This Life. Boo. Newzbin to the rescue methinks. Phoned Sky who have reassured me that they’ll get someone to me as quick as they can – offered me a date in mid Feb. After rejecting that they will get a diary team member to phone me with something ‘a bit sooner’. No shit Sherlock.
Add to that the car getting scratched down South (the curse of Naim) makes for a good start to the year. Things can only get better?