Newbie question

david creager

Standard Member
Feb 15, 2004
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I have just had Sky installed. Do either of Pace or Humax recorders allow me to feed the Sky in via scart and have it record the Sky feed for me? I don't need anything clever, just basic VCR type functionality
If you mean the Pace Sky+ box then this has the sat tuner built in, so you just replace your old box with it.
If you mean the Pace Twin and the HUMAX PVR‑8000T then they are DTT DVR's that have built in digital terestial tuners and AFAIK do not have inputs for other sources such as Sky.

With Sky you really have 2 options - Sky+ or the better option of a TiVo. TiVo will work well as a dumb digital VCR without a subscription, but you really should get the sub as this does 'Change the way you watch TV'.

The pace twin is essentially a dual freeview receiver with hard disk recording functions. It avoids all that tedious mucking about in the analogue domain which wrecks the picture quality of things like Tivo. As such, it exists to record freeview, and isn't suitable for recording sky; it doesn't digitise incoming video AFAIR. This sounds bonkers until you stop and think about it.

Obviously, If you take a recording of freeview or sky with a tivo, you're decoding mpeg, with all the mpeg artifacts, and then spitting it out as analogue to the recorder, which then grabs the frames (ie, digitises them) somewhat cheaply. It then mpeg encodes yet again to record to hard disk, so you get mpeg artifacts on your mpeg artifacts. The artifacts in the original received video can actually add to the apparent complexity, thus making the tivo's copy much worse, because it's lossily compressing an already lossily compressed and artifacted signal. It's like getting a Reader's Digest Condensed version of a Reader's Digest Condensed novel. It's possible to partially sidestep this if you know how the coders are set up at every stage by effectively lining artifacts up, but this is out of the question for Jo[e] Public and Freeview/Sky.

The same problem holds with recording sky. I can't remember if it's mpeg or a similar codec, but it's a similar generation block-based mdct style coder. You can see the artifacts nice and clearly. In fact, I personally see more artifacts on Sky than on a decently encoded channel on freeview (though I've noticed some dreadful messes on itv1 via freeview lately :-/ ).

Moreover, a sky+ box lets you dump the programme directly to the hard disk (note, "programme", not software :) ), avoiding the loss of quality, but with the obvious downsides of paying for sky+ etc., as well as losing all the smashing features that make tivo so lovely.

The choice is an either/or one, to my mind. You can either have the lovely mostly accurate speculative recording, and general splendid meta-data obsession of the tivo, or the pristine picture quality of a bitstream recorder. What I wouldn't give for a Freeview tivo.... Sky+ is somewhat smarter than a twin, though obviously at a price. I suppose it's a question of what matters most to you. If you've played with a tivo, and consider the picture quality adequate, they are lovely toys, and well-worth considering. If the occasional splodgy mess raises your hackles, consider a sky+ box.

Any other recorders likely to come to market which aren't themselves receivers are likely to suffer the same problem, unless they have some sort of data in, to go with faery recievers with a similar output- a path fraught with standards problems and possible media industry obstruction. I doubt we'll see SDI interfaces on consumer kit any time soon, nor consumer uncompressed PVRs :)

Of course, people with more money and time than sense could stick a decent-quality grabber card in a MythTV box or similar, but I suspect that this is beyond the scope of the discussion.

Phew, that was quite a rant. Does anyone remember the question?
(grin, duck +run)
Thanks to both of you......I think I need to make my decision about whether I am going to keep sky movies...if I am , then I will probably go for Sky+....if I am not..........I am not sure what I will do LOL

At the moment I record rarely, and when i do, I send it to my VCR using Sky's output. I wanted to replace this with a HD ...obviously this doesn't seem to be possible.
Yes it is. both Sky+ and TiVo will do what you require. TiVo can be used without a sub, but Sky+ is only free if you have the premium channels as part of your package.
The choice really is down to the TV you use and weather you will notice the slight drop in quality with TiVo. Also be aware that Sky can delete recordings on a Sky+ and can prevent you FF through adverts etc. This has not been done as yet, but could be!


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