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1TB Sky+HD Digibox Unveiled, SD Boxes Being Phased Out

Gordon Kelly


1TB Sky+HD Digibox Unveiled, SD Boxes Being Phased Out

Seems Sky is making a rather better fist of this week than Apple...

Following the announcement it will make its first ever 3D broadcast at the end of January, Sky has followed this up with news of an enlarged one terabyte Sky+HD box while plans are now afoot to phase out standard definition Sky+ digiboxes.

Little to say about the one terabyter other than its slightly reworked paint job and the fact that 1TB will store a whopping 240 hours of HD programming. That said, it should be pointed out the user won't get full control over all of this since Sky reserves 50 per cent of the space for its 'Sky Anytime' auto-record service which automatically analyses your viewing habits and tapes content you might find interesting.

Personally I'd say reserving 500GB is a little over the top for such a feature, but it is at least a better deal than 50 per cent cut existing 300GB Sky+HD digibox owners have to put up with. Sky+ digiboxes fair even worse, giving up half of their 160GB drives, though SD content uses much less space.

Sky will price the new 1TB box at £249 plus a £30 installation charge (rather unfairly £60 for existing customers). A £10pm fee is required to access Sky's 37 HD channels.

In related news Sky+ boxes are on their way out after Sky confirmed it will now offer its Sky+HD 300GB digibox as standard to new customers - whether they take out a £10pm HD subscription or not. This makes perfect sense since it gives both the customers and Sky itself an upgrade path to HD in future.

HD subscribers will get the Sky+HD box for free plus free installation, otherwise it will set you back £49 and £30 for installation which makes avoiding the £10pm HD charge rather pointless. Existing customers again don't fare so well at £99 for the box and £60 for installation. *sigh*

Still Sky is on the right track here as it pushes Britain towards a High Definition future - and consumers who bought their HDTV without ever combining it with an HD source (sadly, the vast majority) will suddenly realise what all the fuss is about...

Update: Sky has confirmed the 1TB Sky+HD digibox actually has a 1.5TB HDD inside so Anytime doesn't use up any of your allocated space. Good news all round.



Sir Stuie

January 28, 2010, 8:41 pm

I keep meaning to threaten Sky with leaving to get a free upgrade (still on basic box). I still dont feel the HD service is worth an extra £10pm for what is available. My TV gets by with Blu-Rays and 'acquired' MKVs

Mark 37

January 28, 2010, 8:44 pm

All well and good, but will it be able to pass 5.1 audio through HDMI, as the V+ box has done from the beginning?

Ala Miah

January 28, 2010, 9:25 pm

I have the 300GB box and to be honest whenever i've reached near 90% capacity, I just deleted everything. I and i suspect most people never have anything on there that they would like to keep on there for forever anyway.

You record, you watch, you delete. 160GB is enough for that.


January 28, 2010, 9:30 pm

Pfft, I stuck a 1TB drive in my Sky box over a year ago. I hope the new box is faster though. I've always found their performance and responsiveness to be dire.

Definitely moving in the right direction though...


January 28, 2010, 9:32 pm

1TB is welcome. Not before time though. The 50% for Anytime is so annoying. I hardly ever use it and would much prefer to use the space for the things I want to record. Why Sky insist on this is beyond me. Why not give the customer the choice (you can turn Anytime off, but it doesn't free up the space. Joke).

I hope the new 1TB model is more stable and reliable. I get tired of the random lockups of the Sky HD box or "strange" behaviour that only a power cycle cures. Wouldn't be so bad if they fitted a proper on/off switch on the back - rather than having to resort to yanking the power cable out. Also, hope the new HDD is quieter. The constant tick tick tick of my box is quite intrusive.

Have to say, I hate Sky as a company, but I enjoy watching HD, sport in particular. But, there is little or no alternative so you have no choice but to cough up.


January 28, 2010, 9:35 pm

Can you still access FTA HD channels without Sky HD pack with the HD box? ie BBC HD, E4?


January 28, 2010, 9:36 pm

@Ala - sorry, have to disagree with you there. My kids like to keep their favourite movies and when you have a whole family recording things (especially in HD) the 160GB fills up in absolutely no time. The constant micro management of the space is a real pain for me. Would be nice if they allowed you to connect your own external storage. That would be perfect. ......Yes, I know I am dreaming.


January 28, 2010, 9:42 pm

@Ala Miah: With a large drive you have the option of leaving things on the drive for later review. For instance, I browse the channel listings on the website and use remote record to schedule films weeks in advance. I might have 20 films on the drive at any time, which gives me the option of what to watch when I have the time. I also have a couple of complete series of TV shows, which allows me watch reruns when there's really nothing else on the box. For me, it puts an end to channel surfing. It's not how everyone operates, but it does provide more choice and that can't be a bad thing. Besides, with hard disks being so cheap these days, why not?


January 28, 2010, 10:19 pm

@Sir Stuie - I remember Sky calling my household offering to upgrade our box from standard to sky plus for only £10 (I think). We did it, and the only annoying thing was they would only do it if they took the old box away. They would not let us keep the old box. They probably recondition them to give to new customer :)

Thomas C

January 28, 2010, 10:43 pm

@Chris, Do know of a website detailing how to replace the disk in the sky box? Is it an easy process?

Rob 7

January 28, 2010, 10:45 pm

Charging £60 for existing customer for upgrade is a very bad move from Sky, it's existing customers should get it for free. Well, that has now just made me think about switching to FreeSat. I am not convinced in regards to the extra £10 for their HD service, I will only switch to HD once they've abolished this charge. Thank you Sky for treating your loyal customers with discontent, I am now switching off and going FreeSat. You have just lost me as a customer.


January 28, 2010, 10:46 pm

I concur with Steve32 here. I have anytime switched off (it's burning watts of my electricity for something I don't watch), and I would like the unused space to be available for stuff I actually want to see. It records stuff off of channels I don't even subscribe to, what's the point of that?

Having said that, it still runs the HDD anyway when switched off, so it's obviously up to something! Where's my tinfoil hat gone? It's like having a Murdoch spy in my lounge!!


January 28, 2010, 11:21 pm

if they did one hd subscription of £10 per household then i would upgrade my other boxes as it stands they want £10 for every box.


January 28, 2010, 11:31 pm

meh. the black colour scheme is worth the extra, in my books. hated it how your entire living room colour scheme could be ruined by devices like a sky box that didn't come in the colours that you wanted. at least give control over that, considering the £50 ppm asking price for HD content...


January 29, 2010, 1:11 am

@Thomas C: It's pretty simple if you're used to poking around inside a PC. You'll need the right hard disk though, and I can't really point you in the right direction there as I did my upgrade a year ago and the available hdd models have changed since then. I'd search through the posts on avforums.com. Post your own question if you don't come up with an answer.

Here's another handy site: http://www.morlocks.co.uk/sky....

And another: http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/fo...

@betelgeus: Really?!? So they want £10/m per additional box and another £10/m per HD box? Wow, rip-off.

@ChrisC: I think it's recording Anytime recordings when it's on 'standby'. I don't get why it now needs 500GB for Anytime recordings either, that seems excessive. Brainwave: Maybe it's not just Anytime - maybe that's where future services like video on demand or even iPlayer will store their data as well. In fact, that could well be part of Sky's reasoning for wanting to get as many HD boxes out there as they can. Only HD boxes with their Ethernet ports could receive these services.

Ala Miah

January 29, 2010, 1:16 am

@Steve32 I agree with your last statement. I too hate sky and am no longer paying them any money. They added a service twice and bill me half a grand for it even though i didn't sign up. They agree but still charged me. If that's not a big enough reason i don't know what is.

In theory i found out that i'd love to keep loads of programmes and watch it later but in reality after studying my behaviour for about 6 months i found that I often don't even watch the recorded prgrammes again at all.

I suppose it's different for different families. Also the anytime thing is so annoying especially if they save shows/films for channels you don't even have. Sky is single handedly the worst company i have ever used/paid for.

Thankfully like i said i don't have sky anymore.

The next house they i move into is going to be 100% in cable area!

@Chris - your missing out on what the internet offers.


January 29, 2010, 1:36 am

Yeah Rob, that's my gut reaction as well - why penalise the loyalty of the existing customer? When shopping around as a new customer although I obviously want minimal costs, I'm much more forgiving with premium one off fees but once I've put my trust in a company I expect a little gratitude. I can see people arguing 'Well what's another 60 quid when you're already splashing out?' but that mounts up.


January 29, 2010, 1:59 am

We dropped Sky a while back when they couldn't upgrade our Sky+ box to Sky+HD for 4 months, even though I said just courier the new box over and I'd install it. We got Virgin instead, but they keep dropping the end off of programs.

Got Sky reinstalled - with multiroom. They ran the cable into 2 new rooms and installed an HD box and an SD box. I got the old Sky+ box out of the garage and set that up, swapping the card out of the SD box (took a phone call to Sky to get it setup, as they need to change the box linked to the card in their systems), and put a freesky card in the SD box - so we've now got 3 rooms set up with satellite access. We've still got another spare SD box in the garage, and I'm going to run another cable to another room at some point.


January 29, 2010, 2:55 am

I'm a long long long time Sky subscriber. I personally cannot complain about their SD boxes (I wish I can say the same about their HD ones). Mine looses signal either to record or watch TV (depending on how it feels), and their recent software/EPG update hasn't been a glowing success (slow and unresponsive come to mind). I'll be switching this year... to Freesat/Freeview HD or Virgin's HD service. Only sky's comprehensive channel list has kept me 'loyal' to date, despite the cost.


January 29, 2010, 5:50 am

I also found that I also watch only half of what I record.

Problem is though I don't know which 50% in advance.

It's an old joke I know.

There's a firm in Harrow (among many) that will overhaul your box (new, better capacitors) install a 1TB disc for £130, transfer your existing rcordings and warrant for three years, perfectly lawful and half the price of this new Sky offering.

@ Chris C. Google is a friend.

No you don't pay subs for BBC HD or Ch4 HD, Freeview HD may get interesting soon but Sky, whether you like Murdoch/News Corp or not, are making the running and providing much of what the public really really wants and Premiership footballers astronomical wages have to come from somewhere : - )

This weekend Sky will transmit a Premiership match in 3D, nine pubs (nationwide) have been chosen to experience the transmission.

No! I don't know where they are either, but I feel a real hunger AND a thirst coming on.


January 29, 2010, 2:16 pm

I'm all in favour of this. Kudos to Sky for improving their already excellent product and keeping up with the curve. I'm sure the Tivo deal with Virgin will help keep them on their toes.

Personally I do need more than the present disk allows. Recording in HD takes up a lot of space and movies can take up 5% of the disk each. I record over half my material in HD now and it's a constant battle to keep enough space free. The extra space would be a godsend to me.

I like the black remote control too ! Need one :-)

I do agree that half of this space set aside for rarely required "Anytime" is a big waste and I'd also like to see this limited to a lower number.

Also, since Sky updated their EPG (thank god) the responce of the box has got slower, so I hope that there are improvements for that here too.

Personally my next move is to fit a 1Tb drive to my present system, but I'm waiting for the warrantee to expire first, just in case. Also (correct me if I'm wrong but) I'm sure than if I update my present drive to a TB one then I keep the same size (140gb) anytime partition and all the extra space is for recording.


January 29, 2010, 3:00 pm

@HDRE: "Mine looses signal either to record or watch TV" - Yeap, mine has done that a few times. When I go into the settings I notice the signal strength has gone to nothing on one of the LNB's. Pull the power cable out the back of the box and restart, then all is fine again. (till the next time).

Nick G

January 29, 2010, 3:09 pm

Isn't it about time they got rid of the HD surcharge? I don't see why we should pay extra just to see all of the pixels something was originally recorded in. If they're making the HD boxes standard, then they should make HD standard too. I was hoping that was just to milk a bit of extra cash out of early adopters but it seems it's a permanent feature.


January 29, 2010, 5:10 pm

I agree with earlier comments, what's the point in using half the extra HDD space that the customer doesn't have the choice to use as they wish?! I currently have 'Freesat' ( BBC & ITV) installed but use the freesat version of Sky's box in the meantime. I'm on my second box from Sky as my box keeps freezing/locking up, which means I have to yank the power plug out of the wall to switch it off and restart it! I've never been a fan of Sky's subscription as I think they are just ripping people off for what you actually get! Admittedly Freesat ( BBC & ITV) desparately need more HD channels, but looking at Sky's menu, even if we had chosen to have full access to all their channels ( paying a subscription), I wouldn't want it! Give me Freesat ( from the BBC & ITV ) anytime. Yes sure it doesn't offer as wide a choice etc as Sky, but at least once you've bought the apparatus and installation, that where your costs end!


January 29, 2010, 5:49 pm

I'm with Chris - I upgraded to a 1TB almost 2 years back and have loved the flexibilty ever since.

@Ala - Personally I always found 160GB incredibly frustrating. Once you've got a couple of movies you want 2 watch, 2 that you're wife wants to watch, 2 that you'll watch together, there's only room for another 2or3 episodes of 24 and then you're screwed. Delete something of your wife's and risk the wrath or miss a key episode of 24 and ruin the next 6 months of viewing pleasure......

@ Thomas - Try www.skycopyplus.co.uk this has all you'll need for the job and is pretty easy to do. I even managed it using a Mac.

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