Sky HD EPG Update

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.

TV Talk

Great to see Richard Hammond back on Top Gear tonight. When it happened I never thought we would see him back on TV joking about it, never mind just a few months after the crash. Pity the road laying ‘sketch’ was so lame. The crash film however was pretty shocking – amazing that he came through it at all. Thanks to YouTube it’s available only an hour after broadcasting (and pretty good quality too).

Shilpa wins Big Brother. No big surprise although good to see little mention of Jack’s girlfriend.

Sky HD rocks! Now that it’s back up and running I’m loving Battlestar and 24 in HD. The football over the weekend has also been good. There’s lots of rumours that Sky will be making Sky+ the default box from now on removing any cost for the service (about time). There’s even talk of making multi-room free. I can see the former happening but have doubts about multi-room. I wonder if there will be any announcements during the interim results on Wednesday? I would love multi-room to be free 🙂

Oh So Quiet

Not been in the mood to post recently. Combination of work (including trip to Bristol), a stinking cold (blame rests with Easyjet) and then a migraine yesterday means I’ve not had the inclination to write anything. This means I’ve made no comments on the PS3 slip (I think it’s good news to be honest) nor on Blair and New Labour or on Saints Row being more enjoyable than GTA.

The only blessing from the last week is that it’s over and tomorrow night is showtime. That 24-inch iMac is so so tempting that I may make the plunge tomorrow. I had pretty much settled on getting a Macbook Pro but I don’t need that type of power on the go. So it may be an iMac now and the gorgeousness that is 1920*1200 pixels with a Macbook early next year. Oh – and a new iPod. For once I’d love the spoof to turn out to be true.

Anyway, enjoy the show for those watching online – no doubt I’ll post with some news in the next few days.

Almost forgot…Lord of the Rings:Return of the King looked amazing in HD on Sky at the weekend. Quality of the picture was superb and looked so much better than DVD. The Proms and the live football have also been great. Sky even managed to get a decent firmware upgrade out which has fixed quite a few of the bugs. Only grumble is lack of disk space makes keeping films etc an issue, especially now that the original Star Wars movies will be broadcast in HD before Christmas. Might have to perform a sneaky disk upgrade before then.