Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tata Sky+ HD

So we got our Tata Sky+ HD review unit delivered yesterday. We couldn’t wait to tear through the packaging while hurriedly clicking a few snaps for you guys. As usual, we’ll showcase a few choice photos here, with a linked Picasa Web album with all 33 photos from the unboxing (Those are for you, fanatics of unboxing photos!) For the ones who are wondering what a Tata Sky+ HD is, it’s nothing but a Tata Sky HD box with a built-in 500 GB Hard Drive. This enables you to record high-definition video (1080i, not 1080p) of over 600 hours (according to Tata Sky). For geeks like us, pausing live TV isn’t a big thing – we’ve mostly got a TV Tuner card installed in our PCs, which helps us to pause at crucial, real-life-threatening moments, and then use that time to fast forward the Ad breaks. For the average Indian household, this could (and would) be a big deal. Now, Tata Sky+ launched a couple of years ago – but this box combines the best of both worlds – the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) functionality with the HD-capable channels. We’ll have our full review of the unit, the interface, the HD quality, the DVR functions in about a week or so, but till then, check out these pictures. If you want our first impressions, or the full set of unboxing pictures, you’ll want to hit that “Read more” button.

Tata Sky  HD 07  Tata Sky  HD 10  Tata Sky  HD 11  Tata Sky  HD 15  Tata Sky  HD 16Tata Sky  HD 21  Tata Sky  HD 25  Tata Sky  HD 26  Tata Sky  HD 34

  • The main black unit looks really classy compared to the original Tata Sky or the Tata Sky HD Digicomp box. Seriously, it’s worth spending a few minutes to drool over. (If you’re the kind that likes to keep dusting the dust off of your equipment, then this box is not for you. Within a few minutes outside the cardboard box, this thing was picking up dust)
  • The remote has a slightly rough-ish, rubbery battery cover. There’s nothing wrong with it – but when you first touch it, it feels weird compared to the rest of the remote
  • The HDMI cable is included in the box, as noted on the Tata Sky website; the batteries for the remote are included too
  • No other audio/video cables are included in the package; if you don’t have a display/TV with HDMI-input, you’re going to have to dig out an old component or composite cable (or head out to your nearest electronics store and purchase one)
  • Don’t get excited by that Ethernet (network) port or the USB port at the back; we spent a giddy few minutes dreaming of endless possibilities before the succinct user guide brought us back to earth – they’re for “future use” only. For what it’s worth, we’re happy to know that Tata Sky is keeping the possibility of hooking this up to a home network, or adding external hard drives to increase the capacity of this PVR as a future option at least
  • There’s also a USB port, and a slot marked “CI Slot” at the front, just next to the slot that accommodates your personal Tata Sky+ subscriber card.

Our full set of unboxing photos

All in all, if you purchase this, you’re not going to feel that you didn’t get your money’s worth; at least, not as soon as you open the box and unpack everything. Whether the actual day-to-day experience is worth the Rs. 4000/- you’re expected to pay up front – we would be able to tell you in our upcoming full review. Stay tuned, and let us know in comments below if you have any questions or clarifications regarding the Tata Sky+ HD that could be cleared up in our review.


anil k said...

Thanks for this, I have been thinking of upgrading to HD, but with HD+ coming at such economical costs I thought of waiting for the same.

I would like to know from you about the sound output. It is being told that the output would be 7.1, would the DVR be able to downmix it to 5.1 if I am using one?

I know this is discussed to death before but is there a way to get that content out from the hard disk or may be add some from my PC to the hard disk. I understand the first one may lead to copyright violations but transferring the videos to the PVR (just in case I have to store something out of my ever diminishing HDD space) would be a handy thing for me to know.

I am all hooked for your detailed review thanks!

anil k said...

Also kindly let us know about all the connectors provided!

The Indian Geek said...

Hi again Anil,

Check our photos (http://lh6.ggpht.com/_8C6vnKSU57M/TVmWmuhGhUI/AAAAAAAAAlI/GxO0DyWEXI0/s1600-h/Tata%20Sky%2B%20HD%2021%5B5%5D.jpg, http://lh3.ggpht.com/_8C6vnKSU57M/TVmWo6iSmmI/AAAAAAAAAlQ/N2Cb3tV2Fpk/s1600-h/Tata%20Sky%2B%20HD%2025%5B5%5D.jpg, http://lh3.ggpht.com/_8C6vnKSU57M/TVmWrG3FvZI/AAAAAAAAAlY/a1y32mpXd0E/s1600-h/Tata%20Sky%2B%20HD%2026%5B5%5D.jpg) which show the RF connector, the component connections, the composite connectors, the SPDIF and HDMI ports.

As noted in our initial impressions, the Ethernet (RJ45 network port) and the USB ports are currently for "Future use" only.

The Indian Geek said...

Hi Anil,

Thanks for stopping by and your enthusiastic comments! We're looking forward too, to spending time with the Tata Sky+ HD Digicomp over the next week or so. The audio output would definitely be downmixed. If you have a specific setup that you are looking to harness, let us know - we'll see if we can test it; no promises there, though. :)

About "other" uses for that whopping 500 GB Hard Drive - No. You simply can't, as you've noted yourself - due to copyright violations. However, there is a possibility that Tata Sky could make this possible with a future update - there is that Ethernet port and two USB ports looking snug and pretty on the Digicomp; would be a shame to let them go to waste now, wouldn't it?

Let us know if you have any further equally insightful questions...

Anilkumar Pappu said...

Hey!! Thanks for the prompt replies. I have Samsung 5 series LED and a samsung 1000w 5.1 ch HT (which is DTS and Dolby certified) I am wondering if I connect the STB to HT via SPDIF would the output be 5.1 for all the channels or plain stereo (with just two speakers working), I guess TS now gives only three HD channels so would appreciate if you could test the same.

I reckon the LAN port is for (future) internet connections(?), I also see that there are two USB ports are both of them for future use? And I indeed saw those cables there, but just wanted to confirm the same, I mean a proper HDMI and SPDIF cables itself cost some where around 1k, looks like 4k is a steal for the package offered, only grouse is the channels available hopefully there would be more on the plate soon!

The Indian Geek said...

Glad you're happy with our responses, Anil.

Let's see if we can address all of your questions.

Firstly (and sadly), we don't have the setup to test the SPDIF output from the Tata Sky+ HD Digicomp. We assume it should provide 5.1 output for the three HD channels, while providing stereo output for all the other channels.

The rear LAN and USB ports are marked as "Future use". The front USB port is not even mentioned or marked in the diagrams present in the accompanying User Guide. We discovered it while trying to scan every inch of the Digicomp during our unboxing and first impressions session.

There is ONLY an HDMI cable provided. We've seen original Sony and Panasonic ones - this can't compare in quality (or the finish of the actual HDMI connector). But no other cables are provided - you're on your own. If you need RF/Composite/Component cables, perhaps the installation guy would provide the necessary ones. But yes, it's a steal - if you calculate about Rs. 500 for the HDMI cable, and Rs. 2,000/- for the 500 GB Hard Drive, then the actual HD set-top box costs only Rs. 1,499/-

Thanks for all the questions. We love answering them.

Saurabh Singh said...

booked mine today itself ..... its the cheapest box with 500gb combined with hd....... looks gud lets see when they deliver.....

Ishan Pathak said...

hey ,
       i m planning 2 buy a tata sky + hd ......but currently i hav a tata sky .........can u please tell me if its worth it?????

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