TataSky+ HD Review and Unboxing

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We told you that TataSky launched India’s most advance and cheapest HD PVR last week at a very competitive price of INR 3999. I was one of those users of TataSky+ SD who were waiting for this launch to upgrade to HD. And I did. I got the new set top box today. There were only 4 of these boxes available in Noida and as per the installation guy, I am the proud owner of the first one in Noida :). Here is how it looks in my setup:

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I was able to take some unboxing pics and round up a quick review. So here it goes.

This is the box that the STB comes packed in:

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The STB has been manufactured by Pace and has an awesome build quality. Here is the back panel:

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As you can see, the STB has the following ports (from left to right):

  • 2 antenna inputs
  • 1 RF out
  • 1 Component Video out (Green, Blue & Red)
  • 1 Composite Video out (Yellow)
  • 1 Stereo Audio out (White & Red)
  • 1 Coaxial Digital Audio out (Orange)
  • 1 Optical Audio out (Orange)
  • 1 HDMI out
  • 1 Ethernet
  • 2 USB ports (1 in the rear and 1 in front, next to the card slot)
  • DC power input

The set top box comes bundled with just an HDMI cable. So if you want to route the audio to a home theater which does not accept HDMI, you will have to purchase an optical or a coaxial cable.

Unlike TataSky’s other set top boxes, this one has the power supply in a separate adapter. Owing to this, the box is very lightweight compared to TataSky+ SD. The power adapter is the size of laptop adapters. Here is how it looks:

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Quick Review:

The menu system has been totally revamped. It supports screen overlay menus which have some transparency and fade in and out effect. So you see the guide IN the video as opposed to video IN the guide. To save space, the menu system has been re-factored to have minimum options. Here is how the guide main menu looks like:

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Once you select a category, here is how the listing looks like:

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The banner has also been changed. You have to scroll horizontally now to see whats on other channels and scroll vertically to see the schedule. There is also a green progress bar which shows how much of the current program has elapsed. It also turns blue to tell you how much you can review using the buffer feature (Thanks Ramesh for the tip!):

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The home screen is still the same:

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A new screensaver has been added which you can schedule to start after some programmed time. The following pic also shows the 1080i resolution output:

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TataSky+ HD vs. TataSky+ SD:

Since there is no exchange scheme, I still have my old TataSky+ SD box with me. Here are a few comparison pics which show that the HD one is much smaller (and lighter) than its predecessor. It is a bit taller though:

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The remote sports a shiny new aluminum look and is also a little smaller (and lighter) than the TataSky+ SD remote. The keys are now apparently closer to each other:

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Strangely, the remote is manufactured by Philips:

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Channels & Picture Clarity:

Currently, there are 4 HD channels available on TataSky’s HD Gold package:

  • National Geographic HD
  • Discovery HD World
  • Star Plus HD
  • Showcase HD

Also, as per TataSky’s website, if you are a subscriber of the HD Gold package, you will be able to watch the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 in HD at no extra charges.

I am eagerly waiting for the Movies Now HD channel to be available on TataSky. Although we do have Showcase HD, and, according to TataSky’s customer care executives, there is no price difference between SD and HD Showcase movies, it still won’t beat the amazing selection of movies a dedicated Hollywood HD movie channel will offer.

All the HD channels have undoubtedly amazing picture quality and sound. Also, since the SD channels are now also transmitted to the TV over HDMI (which is a digital interface), they appear much more vibrant and clear even though they are upscaled to 1080i. Two thumbs up for picture quality!

Conclusion:

All in all, its a great package at the price of INR 3999. People going for the non PVR version at INR 2599 can now also think about buying the PVR box. TataSky spiked the HD price war when they launched India’s cheapest HD STB last year at a very competitive price. This time they have done the same in the PVR space. Let’s see what Reliance and Videocon will do now. Airtel is yet to launch their HD PVR offering. It will be interesting to see what they have in stock for us.

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Comments

5 Responses to this post

  1. Ramesh says:

    Not sure if you noticed that section of green progress bar in new guide interface turns blue to indicate the time you switched to that channel and the portion that can be played back. I thought it is a cool visual cue.

  2. Durga says:

    Thanks for such a nice first review.. have ordered one and they will install in 3 or 4 days (in Hyderabad).

    But for new users, they are sellig product + 1 year package comes to 9300/-

  3. William says:

    Guys, I have compared the Hd quality of all the channels on Tatasky HD channels with Blue Ray disk output

    There still difference

    StarPlus HD is not true HD.

    • Setu says:

      None of the channels will give you blu ray like quality dude. Blu Ray is far superior with 1080p video (with extremely high bit rate) and Dolby HD or DTS HD MA.

      TV HD channels are 1080i and plain Dolby Digital with much lower bit rate due to lossy compression.

      I think it will take some time before we see the tech which will give us Blu Ray like quality from TV channels.

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