DishTV does it right, upgrades its STB software to let users record TV on a USB hard disk drive

dish truhd

After coming up with India’s first Conditional Access Module cards to let any DTH user to migrate to DishTV whilst keeping their set top box from another operator, reports are coming in that DishTV is launching Dish trueHD+, an innovative way to enable all their existing subscribers to upgrade to DVR (Digital Video Recorder). Instead of launching another set top box with DVR features which their customers would have been needed to purchase, DishTV has released a software update for their existing HD set top box which lets users plug in their USB HDD (hard disk drive)/flash drive and record live TV on that.

Despite the fact that a user has to purchase an HDD/flash drive for this purpose, this setup is actually pretty awesome considering:

  • User can buy desired capacity of HDD thereby enjoying the freedom of recording as many TV shows as possible.
  • When a user’s HDD is filled up, they have an option to buy a new one instead of relying on the operator to offer an upgrade program (which, BTW, is not offered by any operator in India currently).
  • Users can keep multiple HDDs with their favorite TV shows recorded and can plug them to the STB whenever they want to watch them.
  • Users can keep their current HD set top boxes (which would have otherwise been exchanged for peanuts, if they had to upgrade).

However, I do see a few issues with this arrangements:

  • Typically, DVRs have two physical tuners so as to let users watch one channel while the other is being recorded. This will not work out in this case if the HD STB has only one tuner.
  • There might be limits to the file system and size of the HDD one can plug in the DVR. Also, I am pretty sure that we won’t be able to use these HDD with our computers.
  • If a user plugs in a wore down HDD, the recording performance might degrade.
  • Users will still need to change their remotes as the current ones they have will not have record & playback related buttons.

However, considering everything, this is a pretty smart move from DishTV. This will surely help them rope in new customers.

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