Advantages Plenty of channels and reasonable value for money
Disadvantages Arranging an engineer to fix faults takes ages, can be affected by atmospheric conditions
|Quality and consistency of programmes|
|Range of programming||Excellent|
|Quantity of advertising||Too much|
|Value for money||Good|
A while ago I wrote a review comparing ITV Digital to Sky TV (see my review titled "And the winner is"). In that review I delared ITV Digital to be a better service than Sky and since the demise of ITV Digital (due to their absurd business plans) I went for BSkyB Digital. After having my Sky equipment installed I feel I may have treated Sky unfairly in my previous review.The cost of the full package with Sky is similar (or was similar) to the full package of the now defunct ITV Digital (not taking into account the latter's ITV Sport channel). Both of the top packages cost around £38 but Sky certainly have far more channels. In my review of ITV Digital, I did point out that Sky certainly has more channels but unfairly cited that most of these extra channels were rubbish. How wrong could I be? Some of these extra channels are brilliant. For example, I did not know UK Gold 2 existed. I also love the extra news channels, especially Bloomberg. There are also extra film channels and extra sport channels such as Formula 1 channel although this costs £15 to watch each race. Also, special pay per view events (eg. boxing, certain football matches, even wrestling) can be ordered.
The interactive services are nothing short of brilliant! ITV Digital's interactive services were limited and were confined to Digital teletext which was painfully slow. Sky's digital text appears to be much quicker but there are far more features here which includes watching live football matches from different angles, viewing a breakdown of the live sport statistics, betting on sporting events, shopping, playing quizzes, accessing internet and even having the option to choose which football match to watch on the same channel! The latter was particularly handy for keeping track of the Argentina v Sweden match while England were playing Nigeria in the World Cup. Both games were shown on BBC1 but with the press of a button to access interactive services I could switch between each game on BBC1.Another nice feature of Sky is the comprehensive TV Guide which allows you to view what's on each of the channels in a time-zone sort of display. This allows you to view, say, what sporting events are on at 8 pm tonight. From within the TV Guide, you can elect to add a program to the planner so when that program is about to start you are notified and are given the choice of viewing that program or continue to watch the current program. Also you can even select the program to come on automatically when you add it to the planner. There is a bug with the planner though because occassionally obscure programs are added to it from nowhere and removing it using the remote control is impossible. The only cure for this is to "reboot" the decoder-box.
Information on the current program can be viewed and there are quick access buttons to future programs on the remote. This is useful for seeing what's on later while you continue to watch the current program but annoyingly you cannot view information on future programs from doing this but you much go back to the TV Guide (taking you out of the current program and into a blue menu screen) in order to view information on future programs. This is a frustrating omission and is a feature that Sky had no excuse for omitting.The picture on Sky Digital is excellent and the sound (especially wired through my pro-logic hi-fi) is crisp and clear. I experienced far less picture break-ups than I did with ITV Digital. When I was watching ITV Digital sometimes the picture would freeze or the sound would start screeching and this was despite using an upgraded aerial. These problems do not seem to occur much with Sky but when it does occur it is a real pain in the arse because it lasts for a couple of days. It seems like bad weather or changes in atmospheric conditions causes these problems. At one time it was so bad that the picture was unwatchable so after phoning Sky's technical department I arranged for an engineer to come. Of course it is too much to expect someone to come out the same day but I was quite surprised that I had to wait 2 weeks for the engineer to come out!! Now 2 weeks is about £19 of my subscription.
There are many different packages available for Sky (I cannot remember what they are but I paid £38 for the full package). To view the different packages available see www.sky.com. The equipment is free unlike ITV Digital where a monthly charge was payable for rental of the decoder box. However, there is a charge for installation of the equipment (Sky will NOT allow you to install it yourself). I paid £1 for my installation but at the time of writing this, the cost is £20 but check their website to see what offers they have.I have had Sky for nearly a month now and am very happy with it. The customer support is very friendly and courteous but sometimes can be very busy. For more information on the various packages available, telephone numbers, etc go to www.sky.com.
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