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When sky is the limit

tech reviews Updated: Apr 20, 2010 01:30 IST
Sonal Kalra
Sonal Kalra
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Aamir KhanWho hasn’t seen the compelling ad where Aamir Khan alarms you to the fact that your kids are going to think about cartoons even if you switch off the TV, and force them to study. And how Tata Sky plus now allows you to record your child’s favourite cartoon so that they can study in peace, knowing they won’t miss their programme. The ad prompted me to check out Tata Sky plus and the claims they make. Here are the goods and bads, in my opinion, of the four distinct features in DTH technology that the brand offers — Pause-Rewind-record of Live TV, Dual Access remote recording, True Video on Demand, and Auto standby technology.

Live TV recording
Now this one’s great. It takes you back to the era when we would set our VCRs up to record a movie that Doordarshan was showing. Except that now, you don’t even need to have your TV switched on when you record a programme. The feature allows you to pause live TV when you get up for a phone call or take a loo break…and resume from where you left. You can set the times to record the entire programme (upto 90 hours of TV) if you are away… the recording gets temporarily stored in the buffer and can be retrieved on demand. The feature works wonders for those who don’t wish to miss their favourite soaps or matches. On the downside, however, I found the user interface (UI) a bit complicated and especially lagged, as compared to other services or even the standard Tata Sky.

Dual Access remote recording
This feature, announced last week, helps the users to record programmes remotely via Internet or mobile phones. Clearly with an aim to counter the ‘remote recording’ service being offered by the rival — Airtel, (remember the Kareena-Saif ads where she makes him record all her saas bahu serials through a cell phone!), this feature is likely to revolutionise the Personal Video Recording (PVR) technology, which is the real purpose behind the proliferation of DTH technology in the west. It is yet to be seen whether Tata Sky Plus will succeed in providing an effective interface for remote recording through phone in a country like ours where mobile services are still struggling with the basics.

Auto standby technology
This one’s for the electricity-consumption conscious, as it allows the box to go on a “sleep mode” when one is not recording and viewing live TV. As soon as the recording gets completed, the mode goes back on low power consumption mode. Good in theory, but whether that leads to any real savings in the electricity bills or not is a matter of debate.

All in all, Taka Sky Plus, especially with the new features coming in without any additional cost, tries to make up for its reputation of being unduly expensive (Rs 5999 annually with Rs 50 per month for those who haven’t registered by March 31st). Whether it continues to enjoy the patronage of clients in view of aggressive competition by Airtel and Dish TV remains to be seen, but by staying ahead in terms of technology, it surely stands a chance better than anyone else.

True Video on Demand
Another first in India., the True Video on Demand (TOVD) technology is a step ahead of the common-by-now ‘movie on demand’ feature offered by almost all DTH service providers. With 45 hours of real time content downloading (taking the total hours of possible recording upto 130), the service allows the users to store chosen content — movies, documentaries, sitcoms etc, in the set top box for viewing anytime as per convenience, rather than waiting for pre-specified show timings of movies on demand. Despite trying hard, I really couldn’t find a fault with this feature, except that as of now, the available content is very less. But with more being added as time goes by, the ‘showcase’ feature, otherwise popular with Tata Sky plus subscribers might soon turn obsolete with the coming of this one. And oh, a friend who subscribed to Ishqiya through the ‘showcase’ feature complained of less than optimum video quality.

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