There are devices in IT that are cool because they add in new features, or cool because they look good, but then there are devices that are cool simply because of what they are designed to do and the Sky HD Box is one of them.
Released next year, this little beauty is the gadget that will propel Sky’s viewers into the world of high definition broadcasts. It is roughly the same size as the existing Sky box and will process signals into both the excellent 720p and uber-fantastic 1080i formats. Thomson is the company which won the contract to build the boxes, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see offerings from the likes of Pace (which currently makes the majority of Sky + boxes) and Amstrad soon afterwards.
Whetting the appetite further is the news that the new HD box will also be a personal video recorder (PVR) a la Sky+, but just what capacity hard drive it will have in order to store the data heavy broadcasts is still unknown.
Even cooler is the news which Sky personally confirmed to me today that the box will come with an Ethernet connection. Details of its functionality remain a closely guarded secret, but a well educated guess would suggest it will tie in with the company’s recently launched broadband service.
What else do we know? Well, surprisingly connections will not be restricted to the HDCP-enabled DVI and HDMI outputs with analogue connectors added to ensure maximum compatibility. It also means customers can be tempted into buying a box, despite not owning a high definition TV, which should then tempt them to make the switch. This is clever marketing, right out of the which came first: the chicken or the egg theorem!
Naturally, at this stage pricing is very much under wraps, and while recent history tells us Rupert Murdock’s empire likes to launch products in the £299 to £399 range, that is not a sure-fire way of predicting the future.
Now, if like me you’re getting unbearably excited and are close to jumping around like you were six years old again then you should head on over Sky’s new HD website. It’ll tease you though, as it has less information up than I managed to dig up here.
I predict 2006 will be the Year of The Square Eyes. (Or the Year of the Rectangle Eyes as hilariously pointed out by one reader. Nicely spotted John!)