First Impressions of Sky+

Sky+ Box with Anti-Vibration Measures

Yesterday, after a good deal of pontificating, we finally had Sky+ installed, having only ordered it on Sunday afternoon. We also took the multi-room option, where they relocate your existing box to another room, and give you an additional card programmed with the same channels as your subscription – mainly because if you took the multi-room option the Sky+ box was subsidised down to £89, and they didn’t charge the £60 installation fee, working out at half the price.

In terms of the installation, the Sky+ and multi-room option is quite involved, as in addition to the obvious new cable needed for the new room, the existing cable from the dish to the box needs to be replaced as the Sky+ box uses twin tuners so needs two connections to the dish. As a result the installer had to take out the current cable that runs from the dish at the front of the house, through the garage and round to the back wall of the house where the TV is located, and replace this with a new dual core cable, and then put in a new cable into our bedroom where we have the other TV in the house.

The cable into our room proved to be the more complicated though. When the installer arrived, his initial suggestion was just to take the cable in the back wall of the house into our bedroom – and run it through the back of the fitted wardrobe to the alcove with the TV. He then looked into the wardrobe and changed his mind… This then threw up a different problem, as although the wall behind the TV in our room is theoretically an outside wall, the garage is alongside – specifically, the roof line runs diagonally across the wall. Working out exactly where the roof line sits is pretty difficult, but I was fairly certain by following the line from the window sill in the bathroom along, that putting the cable through at just above baseboard level, and close to the wardrobe in the bedroom would come out under the roof-line in the garage. When I left for work, the installer was just debating whether there was any other way to do it, although in the end he did drill out from the bedroom – although apparently it comes out pretty high up the wall in the garage (I haven’t been up into the rafters of the garage to take a look though.

So first impressions. Firstly we have a much better picture upstairs now, and also the right local news bulletins. Because of the location of the house, the only transmitter we can clearly pick up is Crystal Palace, so we get London local news, with the box upstairs, we now get a good picture, plus the local news for the South. With the Sky+ we gave it a good workout on our first go as we were out at Church all evening. It recorded Eastenders, and Grand Designs for us, and I was even able to watch back Eastenders whilst it was still recording Grand Designs. As it is all integrated, there wasn’t the risk of messing up the recording either as there is with a standalone video recorder.

In fact the main criticism we have of the box currently is nothing to do with the operation, but with the noise. It uses a hard drive for recording, which will make some noise, however on top of that the top cover of the box vibrates. As all of this is sitting on a hard floor it was really noticeable. My solution was just to stick a box on top, but as you can see from the picture above, Beth has gone for an altogether more visually appealing solution…

2 thoughts on “First Impressions of Sky+”

  1. That’s not a good idea – the box will get very hot on top as the HD sits right in the middle of the box and is uncooled. You have to give plenty of air space round the box otherwise you’ll end up having strange crashes and freezes.

    Also worth doing is a HD upgrade – I stuck a 160GB disk in ours when it was about 3 months old, as the one thats in the box originally is only 40GB it makes a massive difference.

    You’ll need a set of security bits for your screwdriver – you can pick them up cheaply from maplins. There are no seals (or there weren’t on our pace v2 box – looks like you have the amstrad box so it may be different) so changing the HD is very simple apart from having to be extremely careful with the very very fragile and incredibly short IDE cable that joins it to the motherboard. Any problems you just put the old HD back in and call Sky.

    Being able to time-shift TV is great. 🙂

  2. Definitely agree about being able to time-shift being a good thing. Can stop a live show when the phone rings, when the doorbell rings or whatever!

    In terms of hard drive space, the basic boxes appear to be coming with 80gb of available storage now (although apparently they are actually 160gb drives, with half reserved for Sky use) so I guess we’ll be slightly better off.

    Interesting advice about the location of the drive. There are no vents at all on the top of the box, only around the sides, so will have to see how it goes and whether we can find another alternative to stop the vibration of the case.

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