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Just got Sky Digital. My initial thoughts...

Discussion in 'Sky Digital TV Forum' started by Grand Dizzy, Dec 26, 2004.

  1. Grand Dizzy

    Grand Dizzy
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    Well, I've had Sky Digital a few days now and I'm really chuffed. The choice of TV is phenomenal compared to terrestrial, and I really love the 'middle buttons' that let you browse around the channels without leaving the current channel.

    However: just a few negatives...

    1. Channel order
    NO WAY TO CHANGE THE ORDER OF THE CHANNELS!!! This is so frustrating. I don't want Channel 4 to be channel 117, nor do I want S4C Digidol to be channel 114. S4C Digidol is in Welsh and I don't speak Welsh! Plus the advert channels are completely mixed in with the non-advert channels, which, for someone like me who hates adverts and never watches them, is extremely annoying. With hundreds of channels available, not having the ability to make your own 'folders' or 'groups' for channels is pretty lousy.

    2. Text size
    The text size on the TV guide is way too big (and too bold), consequentially you can only read the first few characters of the "what's on now" column, which is annoying. Why not let us specify how big we want the text and/or the colum sizes? There's more than enough room to display the full programme name. More than!

    3. 'On now' guide
    There's no way to just bring up a big list of what's currently being shown, in small text so that it fills the screen (spread over a few pages, possibly). The closest thing to a "what's currently on" guide is the TV guide which is rubbish as it only shows 10 at a time, and most of the titles are chopped in half.

    4. Remote
    Dark blue remote with a silver unit? Whatever.

    5. Logos
    What are the channel logos for? I reliase people who don't have Sky Digital (or Sky+) can tune these channels in manually (the lucky sons of bitches!) but that's a one-off thing, and you can get frequency listings anyway so you know what channel you're watching. But the main point is that these logos are put onto the channel digitally, so why can't they be removed for the Sky Digital service? Is Sky just trying to **** everyone off or what?

    6. Unavailable channels
    If I'd designed the system, I would make any currently unavailable (or unairing) channel greyed out so you can very clearly see that it's not available. Most importantly, I would put a feature in the setup to be able to deactivate any currently unavailable channels, so they don't show up in the listings. Not having this feature is, well, like I said, a lousy service.

    7. Audio
    You can turn off that awful music from the TV guide menu... but the only alternative is silence. Would it be so difficult to play the audio of the channel you're currently watching, or even have the channel still showing in the background? I doubt it.

    8. Interactive
    Not too keen on having to press a button to kill anything interactive that pops up. I have absolutely no interest in interactive services and I didn't ask for them when I signed up. I just want TV channels!

    In Summary...

    On the whole, Sky Digital is a good service; I might even go as far to say that it's worth the £240 a year (twice the fee of the advert-free BBC). But the on-screen service totally sucks. It's restrictive to the point of patronising.

    Sky should realise that people who opt for Sky Digital are people who care about picture quality and probably care more about technology than most, and are therefore a lot more likely to want more control, more options, more customisability, and not to be told what order the channels should be in!

    If this is the sort of "brilliant and convenient service" I could expect from Sky+ then I'm very glad not to be paying the extra £120 a year, and look forward to getting my TiVo.
     
  2. Starburst

    Starburst
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    You won't get any argument that the software on the digibox and the use of interactve elements within programming are far from perfect.
    There are some technical reasons why this is so but for the most part SKY generate revenue from the way things are and are unlikely ever to alter the situation. In fact given the need to maintain a stable platform (6 years old already) there is a lot they could do but can't because older hardware isn't upto the job.

    SKY+ is worth every penny, even more so if you already have a channel package which waives the fee. Not having a red dot or access to interactive adverts when playing back a recording is great, it is a shame that virtually all broadcasters (even the BBC) seem to think we need hard coded logos (DOGs) on screen though.
     
  3. Nick_UK

    Nick_UK
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    It depends on where you live. Can you imagine the uproar from the Welsh if they got English C4 ? :)

    Agreed. Although the Sky+ box can be updated in the future to give smaller text ?

    Sky has no control over the logos (etc) that other broadcasters use.

    That's a marketing ploy. Same as why you are forced to walk through first-class when you board a Jumbo Jet. So you can see what you're missing :)

    If you are in the TV menu, you are not actually "watching" any channel, so it's impossible to relay the sound.

    Agreed ! :smashin: But interactive services subsidise Sky.

    Why are you so keen to purchase a product which is long past its sell-by-date, and is no longer supported in the UK ? If I'd spent cash on a lifetime subscription to the Tivo TV menu, I'd be :censored: too !
     
  4. Ikki

    Ikki
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    This is a totally fallacious argument. Many people choose very carefully NOT to have SKY because of the often reduced picture quality from overcompression. There is arguably less restriction on technology in an open system such as analogue/dtt.

    Other reasons are the high cost if the viewer does not want a vast range of channels that they never watch, the closed proprietary environment that SKY represents, The lack of control over things such as the red dot, channelling vast sums of money into the coffers of Mr Murdoch, etc, etc, etc.

    Bottom line - if you are happy (and you don't sound totally happy) then that's great. Just remember that intelligent people may make different choices based on their own requirements and SKY is only one possible choice.
     
  5. Grand Dizzy

    Grand Dizzy
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    Nick,
    I can understand that forcing us to flick through channels we don't want is a marketing ploy. But there has to be a limit to the marketing, or you turn it into a lousy service that no one wants. I personally think Sky have crossed that limit. They already have advert breaks (lots of them). That is enough advertising. I mean, they could force you to watch a screen that says "I love Sky" for five minutes every time you wanted to change channel, which would only be marketing, but there has to be a limit drawn, and forcing you to have channels you don't want is way over the limit in my opinion.

    Ikki,
    I don't know too much about this, but I thought Sky Digital was the best picture quality available? I'm sure someone told me that as a fact. If regular Sky is the same (or better) than Sky Digital then why is it more expensive?

    I don't know what dtt is, but the channel I really want is Sky One, and as I understand it the only people who provide that are Sky (and cable, which my friend used to have, and that was total rubbish).

    And why doesn't someone sell a box that can receive and show Sky without all the marketing and unused channels?
     
  6. Starburst

    Starburst
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    SKY Digital, Digital Cable and Freeview all use exactly the same technology to compress their broadcasts. The amount of compression used is the determining factor for the picture quality you receive however money talks and every single broadcaster in the UK makes a decision on how much to spend on bandwidth and therefore picture quality.
    There are some very good channels on Dsat, there are also some very bad channels on Dsat, it does not seem to make a real difference if they are free or subscription channels either although SKY's premium movies and sports are up there with the best PQ wise.
    Not sure what you mean by "regular" SKY, there is only one SKY Digital service and that's the one you need a dish for:)


    DTT is Digital Terrestrial Television or in other words Freeview and by extension TUTV which is the subscription element of that digital platform.
    SKY1 is only accessible via Digital Satellite, Analogue/Digital cable and I believe Homechoice, it hasn't been on DTT since On/ITV Digital went bust.
    It is unlikely to be on DTT until such time as SKY themselves start to offer subscription packages on that platform which could happen when analogue broadcasting is shut down and DTT capacity is increased.
    There are big things coming to digtal cable in the new year and no doubt BT will be pushing it's TV via xDSL lines as well so SKY1 by those services could be a viable option.



    Probably because it would be illegal, pirating a PAY service is generally frowned upon:)
    SKY's encryption system (Licensed from NDS) is the heart of their PAY service, by controlling the hardware (both STB and smartcard) they have created probably THE most secure domestic subscription system on the planet. There are drawbacks for the viewer/subscriber as you have seen, the EPG is fairly rigid, there is a lack of inovation in the design of STB's due to SKY holding the purse strings as they give away 99.9% of all SKY boxes made plus the need to make sure digiboxes made in 1998 are fully capable of running the software around now (albeit much slower).


    Things will change though, thanks to the total incompetence and indifference of the cable industry not to mention the foolishness of ONDigital SKY have had things too easy. It's allowed them to take liberties and maintain a status quo that serves them but not always their customers.
    With the advent of VOD and their own PVR's the cables companies are surely in a position to fight back which can only be good for SKY subscribers. Add the every growing Freeview household penetration and the ever closer analogue shutdown SKY will then have another front to battle against after all there are millions who do not want £19.50 to £41 packages and TUTV and the like are in a position to generate and steal customers.
     
  7. Grand Dizzy

    Grand Dizzy
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    Thanks Starburst, that was very interesting to read.

    I'll just comment on the "piracy" issue. I wasn't talking about a box that will show Sky for free, I was talking about a box that you put your SKy card in, and does basically the same thing, only it does a better job.

    I've never really had Sky before, but back in 1995 I had a satellite dish and receiver and I used to get a few free channels, such as MTV and some funny German stuff.

    Anyway, that box was cool. It let me set the channels up in any order I wanted, and it had nothing to do with piracy, since it had the slot on the front where you put your Sky card. Presumably these boxes are still around now, for people who don't have digital? So why can't someone make something like this only for digital TV?

    What I'm saying is: if Sky give their encryption algorithms to third party manufacturers of analogue receivers, why can't they give them to manufacturers of digital ones?

    And finally, I didn't think watching Sky for free was illegal. As I understood it, Sky does not legally "own" their signal once it's been up to the satellite and back (ie left Earth), so watching any satellite broadcast without a subscription is not illegal. I was told this a long time ago. Maybe laws have changed now, or maybe I've been misinformed?
     
  8. Starburst

    Starburst
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    SKY analogue (Videocrypt) was pirated to an early grave, no doubt SKY's rush to switch to digital was a result of losing the war against piracy.
    Lessons learnt in the analogue era by SKY and NDS were incorporated into Videoguard which is now over 6 years old has never been commerically hacked, that is gold for any subscription service.
    SKY would be severely compromising their encryption by allowing generic boxes which could work with a valid smartcard, it is the cornerstone of Videoguard as to how the two parts (digibox cam and smartcard) work together.

    Many broadcasters do issue smartcards which work with standalone CAMS in the manner that you suggest but virtually all of them can be pirated.
    Those European PAY broadcasters were never in a position to do what SKY has done and benefited from not losing hundreds of millions to piracy, I am sure if they could have done they would have done.

    The content of the signal is the property of the broadcaster, using any means to access (break the encryption) without paying for the right to view it is a criminal/civil offence. Selling/buying the hardware required to do so is certainly a criminal offence, copyright laws be they simple music copying or other digital content on any medium are far more advanced then they were in the 1980's. The introduction of all digital mediums/transport plus the use of HDCP will mean even tougher laws for domestic viewing.
     

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