Don’t remember the exact year; Must have been sometime in the late 80s or early 90s. Satellite TV connections had entered my street. One of our slimy (then seen as smart) neighbors had discovered the art of free community transmission by plugging in nails & safety pins on the over head cable wires. For the next 2 – 3 months, the whole street enjoyed free Satellite TV. As soon as we woke up, my brother & I would compete our TV tunings skills to pick up satellite TV channels for free on our Uptron 606. Distorted & noisy images of Micheal Bolton’s popular music video ‘Said I loved you but I lied’ still looks afresh in my memory. Our enthusiasm & desire to have Satellite TV finally convinced my grand parents to get a connection in to our home. That was probably the first truly “ahah” movement of television viewing.
“Huge dish antenna gave way to tiny private dishes; 5 Channels became 500 channels; Neighbors no longer peeped in to see what MTV was all about; The local cable guys were gulped down by MSOs. We all got used to it too soon; None seemed like a transformation.”
Since I picked up a Full HD LCD TV, HD set top boxes were on top of my mind. Finally when Tata Sky Launched their much awaited Tata Sky + HD DVR, last week I gave into the temptation. Watching Nat Geo in HD on Tata Sky HD plus box for the first time was a total “ahah” moment; closely akin to that adolescent boy watching Kevin Arnold, Wayne, Winnie & doc Doogie Howser MD for the first time. To hear my sister-in-law say “The transmission here is just as good as what we get back at home in Ireland.”, was all that I needed.
For years, Indian advertisers have used, misused, overused phrases like ‘Crystal clear picture & sound’ to sell outdated, third world quality old idiot boxes. For the first time with the Tata Sky+ HD , I realized what FULL HD really meant; a million light years from the glory days of DD. Well, you may ask what’s new about HD or for that matter a DVR? What’s interesting about this HD box is that it brings together all the good things from DTH technology and offers it at a 40% cheaper price than market. 500 GB hard disk with over 600+ hours of recording space, 7.1 digital sound with optical output, Video on Demand, Ethernet cable provision to connect with Sky’s VOD database, DVR remote control via mobile/internet, Series link feature to record every episode of your favorite sitcom… now what more can we ask for now. Again, these are not new or ground breaking. We’ve all experienced this – but in bits and pieces; However this is the first time someone in India has offered the entire package together in a single box at price you don’t have to practice all your negotiation skills before you spoke to your wife about it.
“Offering something competition doesn’t offer, gives you a market edge. But offering it at a 60% discount on the perceived cost is a master stroke.”
These guys have done a smart thing of just shipping down the original Sky HD plus box and pricing it at an unbelievably attractive price of Rs. 3999 with free installation. The only disappointment is that the old Tata Sky non HD receivers become obsolete as you can’t even re-sell it. From 2011 they have stopped allowing transfer of ownership on set top boxes. To expect a great product at a low price & then to expect them to create used box market would have been too much to ask for. But then, how about using that to lower the entry cost to your service ?
“Tata Sky+ HD has probably made competition irrelevant. The only dampener is the silence on ICC Worldcup in HD. There goes the 4x sales forecast.”
Okay, the HD DVR is now here; Most us already have a HD Ready or FULL HD TV; Noww does that guarantee a HD experience? Hell, no! Having the right interconnects makes at least 50% difference to the output. Here are some things you can do for optimal experience.
- Open your windows & throw out the OEM HDMI cable from Tata Sky + back to the sky where it belongs. Buy a High Speed HDMI Cable – something like a the Nu HDMI Cable
- Mute your TV, don’t pick up the HDMI sound output. Instead use a pair of 24k Gold Plated RCA Cables to connect your Tata Sky+ HD box to an audio receiver / amplifier. Pick a High Performance Stereo Audio Interconnects from someone like Profigold
- Use the right gauge speaker wire for the external speakers & subs. Here are a couple of industry standard guides of choosing the right speaker wires. Audioholics or eHow
Now if you may want to be the smarty who spends Rs.40,000 on a TV, Rs.10,000 on a HD Set to box + annual service and then decides to use HDMI & RCA connects from your local electronics store bought for Rs.20. Do yourself a favor. Sell your LCD TV & HD box; get back to DD via the extra-terrestrial TV antenna !