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The Good, The Bad And The Interactive
Member Name: I Like Blue
Date: 13/07/03, updated on 13/07/03 (994 review reads)
Advantages: Choice, Interactive
Disadvantages: Choice, Adverts, +1
Oh the beauty of satellite digital TV.
The chance to watch as much TV as you like with a multitude of channels to choose from. Sounds like some sort of paradise, and on paper it is.
This is reality though and it is just a little bit different.
I've always resisted the plea bargaining from my kids each time they begged to have Sky installed, and I've always resisted because I didn't really think it was that good a value for money. The thought of having to pay a monthly subscription fee to Sky on top of paying for a TV Licence did not seem right at all and partly on those grounds I refused to give in.
However, terrestrial TV was getting worse and slowly my resolve weakened (well it's hard to resist your kids sometimes) and I had to admit the thought of having Sky installed was becoming more and more appealing.
Then I saw it.
I saw the banner, here on dooyoo. Intrigued I clicked the ad banner that was telling me I could get Sky installed for just £1. Surely that wasn't right, I thought, what was the catch?
As the page loaded I discovered it was true, I could get Sky installed for just £1!
That particular offer was only available if you ordered the Sky World package for a subscription fee of £38 per month. A bit pricey I know but (and normally I hate this type of comparison but...) that only works out to a shade under £1.30 a day, and with over 100 channels to choose from that's only 1p per channel per day!
Right, I'll stop that right now as I can see a few people glaring at me.
In addition to what is offered in Sky's standard package the Sky World package also includes all the film channels with the exception of specific subscription channels such as Sky Box Office, Film Four and the Adult channels. Also in the Sky World package are all the Sky Sports channels with the exception of the specific
subscription football channel Premiership Plus.
So, what else do you get for your money?
Well, forgetting the Film and Sports channels that cost you the extra money on particular packages, there is a huge choice of channels to watch ranging from music to sports to drama to science fiction to gardening to cooking to DIY to news channels to kids channels to documentaries to chat shows, actually just about anything you want to watch is available.
Then there is the monthly Sky magazine which often proves an interesting read and insight into the following month's viewing, like films and sports.
There are many other packages available and a short 'surf' to www.sky.com shows all of them presented in table format making it easy to select one that suits both choice and budget.
Sorry, getting a bit carried away there, I'll get back on track now and tell you more about getting Sky installed.
I ordered and paid for everything online, by credit card. After submitting some personal details using their online forms I was soon sent an e-mail to confirm my order and a date when a Sky installation engineer would call.
The engineer called prior to and arrived at the agreed time and date. He was extremely helpful and when I explained that I was familiar with Sky and the Sky remote he skipped most of the boring parts and after tuning in Sky to my TV he configured the Sky remote control to act as a normal TV remote too.
I was more than happy with the installation and any questions I had the engineer was happy to answer them and explain anything I didn't understand. All told he took about 45 minutes to install the Sky dish, the digibox and set up the system. The time also included the installing of a TV Link to the portable TV my bedroom.
Right, that's that part of the review out of the way, let's move on to something a bit more important and interesting to you, I hope.
Now, like I said earlier with the choice of channels and programmes to watch I think that's pretty good value for money and I'll explain why. Being in the nomadic career I am, my family and I have had the pleasure (ahem) of sampling and subscribing to cable/satellite TV in Germany and Cyprus.
In Germany, and I'm going back over 10 years now, our cable/satellite package cost us about £15 per month and for that we got 2 or 3 film channels, MTV (there was only 1 MTV channel back then) and a handful of other channels.
In Cyprus we subscribed to cable/satellite TV there for about £18 per month and for that we received 2 film channels, a sports channel (which more often than not showed Sky Sports including nearly all the Premiership games), and a few other English speaking channels.
Some of the most selected programmes we watch are on channels which include Sky One, Bravo, E4, UK Style, Living TV, any from the movies channels, any from the Sports channels, Sky News, BBC 24, Euronews, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and occasionally any from the Documentary channels. Oh, not forgetting any or all of the music channels of course.
Now, in mentioning the above channels as a selection of those that are watched in our home I won't list the programmes we watch as the list would last forever. Instead here is a kind of snapshot of what *actually* (see footnote) happens.
TV on, Sky activated. Remote Control at the ready and we start with a menu selection, TV Guide, then 'All Channels'. Using the green button we scroll through page by page looking for a starting point.
Hmmm, a lot to choose from. Now I know these programmes don't actually follow each other or are on at the same time I'm just going to pick random programmes to demonstrate the sort of activity that goes on in our house.
First up 101 (BBC1), nothing much here...flick to 104 (Channel4), Fri
nel 4 News or Big Brother (daughters are into this), then 106 (Sky One) for some Simpson's
or Futurama or Malcolm In The Middle.
Hmmm, let's move on, 109 (UK Gold), some great comedy here and a chance to catch up on The Bill episodes I missed the first time round, next up 112 (Living TV) and the missus wants to watch Crossing Over or that other show with James Van Pragh.
Moving on now and let's see...124 (Bravo), some good programmes here, then 130 (Sci-Fi), some good films to see, normally later in the evenings, next up is 148 (UK Style) for shows like Changing Rooms, Real Rooms and the House Doctor. Then we go to 205 (E4) for Friends and Big Brother, then 220 (Fashion TV) so the girls can check out what's new in fashion and ogle the male models.
My fingers are starting to hurt.
Then there is the decision to be made on what film to watch or scrolling onwards to choose which Sports channel to turn to, normally it's 408 (Sky Sports News). Then there's all the Music channels.
I'm not carrying on, I think you get the picture. Problem is though this is part of the downside of having Sky, the choice. There are 5 of us in our family and we all have differing tastes so as you can imagine there is often a bit of a clash on who can watch what and what to watch.
For example, normally the conflict is between the kids (teenagers, Help!) and over the Music Channels. Both daughters like 443 (MTV Base), 450 (Kiss) and 467 (U're Music), I'm partial to 444 (MTV Dance) while my son likes 442 (MTV 2) and 454 (Kerrang), which he watches along with 422 (Extreme Sports).
I know at the moment that Sky are advertising the option to have a second digibox to help 'ease' any viewing 'crisis' in the home but I don't think so, not for another £15 per month and it still wouldn't solve the problem. Learning to compromise is much cheaper and more fun
other things I don't like about Sky are all the adverts. I'm sick of all the adverts offering loans, mortgages, insurance, pet insurance or 'no win no fee' accident claims or even more great competitive loans!
Stop it! They're nearly as annoying as pop-ups on dooyoo!
Also annoying is the growing trend for channels to have a '+1' channel. This is where some channels show the same programmes but 1-hour later, just in case you missed it. It used to be that just 1 or 2 channels did this but now it's more and more. Except Sky One of course who have slightly altered things and called their second channel Sky One Mix.
My final whinge is about the music channels. Now, in days gone by MTV and the like made for good viewing as they tended to show videos/songs that you wouldn't normally hear on the Radio and you would be lucky if you saw the same song more than 2 or 3 times in a day. Now though it's very different, mainly because there are so many more channels, but now it's worse than radio and often a music channel (or multitude thereof) will 'kill' a new song by overplaying it. I have often watched the music channels and flicked from one to another just to see exactly the same song playing, in almost perfect unison with the other channels it's being shown on.
With all that out of the way I want to end on a couple of positive notes and they are the Box Office feature and the Red button.
Yes, that little red button on the digital remote that takes you to a whole new world of TV 'behind' TV. By pressing the red button (when prompted by the symbol appearing in the top right corner of the screen) you are taken to an area of TV that makes Ceefax and Teletext look positively stone-aged!
Menus and mini-screens amongst many other options make the viewing experience that more, um, well erm...interactive. Of course on some things it co
sts to be interactiv
e like games, voting (no, not for a new government) and the like but generally it is a good feature and one we often use in our home. There's still 'teletext' but it has evolved and has a lot more depth than it's terrestrial counterparts, although I still find it loads quicker on terrestrial TV than it does on digital!
The Box Office feature is very useful as all the movies being shown are listed here and any pay-per-view sports events.
For films it is easy just to scroll through the selections until you find what you want, select it and then you have the option of ordering and paying for it by simply pressing select or entering your 'PIN' number. Similarly with Sports events especially Premiership Plus you go through the same procedure. Generally films on Sky Box Office cost £3.75 and it costs £5 to watch a football match on Premiership Plus, if you haven't bought the Season Ticket of course.
So, overall, and forgetting the issue of the TV Licence for a moment, I feel subscribing to Sky does represent good value for money and I don't regret it one bit, although sometimes when the kids are constantly flicking from channel to channel and arguing over what to watch...
*actually* - of course exaggerated for opinionating effect.