Sky hopes its latest addition to the satellite box will make it a common occurrence in even more homes. We put life on pause to find out why. It’s always the way, you’re just about to find out who killed professor Plum when the phone rings, the partner comes home or the dog barks. That’s it, you’ve missed it and two hours of invested time for the crucial moment have been wasted. Sky hopes to stop this happening with its Sky+ system.
At the crux of the system is a PVR (personal video recorder) that allows you to record television onto its 40Gb hard drive. 40Gb will give you roughly 20 hours of recording and should be enough to see you through most holidays.
Sky customers will be familiar with the set-up as the interface is virtually identical to a standard Sky installation. Instead of the personal planner it has been renamed Sky+ planner and this is the area that you access recorded programmes, see what you have planned to record or even what is being recorded. Unlike most PVRs you cannot choose your recording quality however the quality that it does record at is good enough for a second viewing. Its roughly the same as if watching the television live - it’s not DVD quality, but then it is better than VHS.
Recording a programme is very easy and you simply select the programme from the online TV guide. Programme data is captured with the biog that Sky normally provides and information on how much disk space the recording takes up is also shown.
When watching a pre-recorded film or soap you can record a further two on different channels but if you want to watch live television then you can only record one other. Either way it’s ideal if you plan to watch a movie or football match and the partner wants to record EastEnders.
As with all PVR systems you have the ability to pause, rewind and fast forward live television in case you missed a bit and this is ideal if you’ve suddenly had to take an important phone call.
Even if you have installation of a standard Sky package you will still have to have a man around to add something to your dish.
A lot has happened to this system already since its launch a couple of months ago. It seems apparent from talking to Sky and playing with the box that software updates are constantly beamed down to the box. Because of the inbuilt satellite feed, recording programs is very easy as you don't have to worry about setting the recorder to record a set period of time, just the program you're after. However there is a catch. You need to have both a dish outside your house and pay the subscription charge of £10 per month for the service, something that other PVRs obviously don't come with. The subscription fee can be waived, but only if you sign up to one of the more advanced packages that cost £30 or more. If you're already a Sky subscriber doing so then it's £250 for the box and installation and you can finally say good riddance to that video, the timer and all the fun and joy that goes with it.