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We had been Sky customers since 2008, but around a year ago we were offered an excellent deal by their rival Virgin Media so we decided to switch over. When we rang up Sky TV to leave they offered us an even better deal to stay with them which included this brand new Sky+ HD box, so we ended up sticking with Sky and have been more than pleased with them.
A few weeks after sorting out our new contract a Sky engineer came out to set our new box up for us and put our old box in our bedroom. The engineer was efficient and the set up only took around half an hour, he quickly showed me how to use the new box before he left.
I really like the look of the new box especially compared to our previous silver one. The Sky+ HD box is mostly black in colour with a silver panel at the front, it looks sleek an modern and matches my black TV and Consoles well. It does occasionally get a little dusty or mucky but I find a quick wipe over with a damp cloth and its looking as good as new. There are a few buttons on the front, in the centre is a circle with a stop and play symbols inside, these light up during playback which looks really cool. There is also a red record button, play, pause, stop, forward and rewind button none of which we really use as we always just use the remote control. The stand by button illuminates green when on and yellow when off.
The menu is set out very well and it didn't take me long to get to grips with it. Along the top there are 9 tabs - Tv guide, planner, on demand, box office, search, radio, interactive, parental, options and settings. The date and time are also clearly displayed, plus there is the option of having a small screen in the left hand corner, so you can still watch your show whilst navigating the menu.
The TV guide is really easy to navigate and planning the weeks tv is really simple, again there are tabs along the top which make it even easier to find what you are looking for (eg. News, movies, sport). I tend to just use the "all channels" tab, but occasionally I will use the "HD channel" tab too. To record something you simply press the red R button on the remote control, you will be given the option to record once or record the series, I really like this function as it means I never miss my favourite shows as each episode will automatically be recorded for me. Only two programmes can be recorded at the same time.
~ Planner ~
This is where all the recorded shows are kept, there is a line along the top which shows the percentage of memory left which is really helpful, I don't think we have ever reached the full capacity and there really is plenty of room on there for our needs. TV shows and series are automatically put into folders, which keeps the menu nice and tidy as well as making them easier to locate. There is also the option of putting locks on recordings to prevent them getting accidentally deleted. Deleted recordings will go to the "deleted" folder and will automatically be deleted after a certain period.
~ On Demand ~
On Demand is basically "catch up TV" were you can access anything you might have missed, plus there are box sets of various TV shows to watch too. To get the most out of the On Demand services it is recommended that the Sky box is connected up to the router, either the router needs to be connected via an ethernet cable or a specific dongle can be bought. We have done neither, so our On Demand service is pretty basic, however I have found most of the content is available via the SkyGo app anyways.
~ Box Office ~
This is where the latest movies can be purchased from, prices start from 99p but the newest movies tend to be around the £4 mark . I have only purchased a movie once from the box office, it was a movie I had been dying to see, plus it was on offer at the time, so a little cheaper than the usual cost. Personally I find the Box Office a little expensive and I just wait until they are shown on Sky movies.
~ Search ~
I find the search function really useful if you are looking for a specific programme, its certainly easier than scrolling through the TV guide. Simply type in the title, genre or sub genre of what you want with the remote control.
~ Radio ~
This tab accesses all the guide for all the available radio stations, its really easy to scroll through.
~ Interactive ~
Games, Sky Bet & Sky Vegas can be accessed here, I've never really used any of these so cant really comment on what they are like.
~ Parental ~
With two small children we make good use of the parental settings. We have been able to set a PIN code and to watch anything rated 12 years + the pin needs to be entered. There is also the options to remove adult content from the guide, so no adult channels will be displayed in the TV guides listing. Any channels can also be manually locked and only accessed when entering the pin. On the whole the parental channels work well, however I think Sky could do a little better as occasionally content can slip through.
~Options & Setting ~
These two tabs are where all the general settings are, such as subtitles, a list of favourite channels, TV telephone numbers and customise options.
~ HD ~
The box is HD ready, but a HD subscription needs to be purchased to access it. There are 78 HD channels in total, a large majority of which are for the Sky movies and Sky sports channels. I have found the HD channels to be brilliant, they are so much clearer, crisper and sharper. The box also has 3D capability, but as we don't have a 3D TV its not much use to us.
I have been really happy with the Sky+ box, especially considering we received it for free. We still have our old Sky box in our bedroom and I really do notice a huge difference between the two. Not only is the new HD box more sleeker and modern looking but it is also easier to navigate, it is faster and doesn't freeze like our old box does. It really is a great box and pretty much does everything we need it too. I do have a few minor niggles with it but on the whole I have been really pleased with it.
I had wanted to get Sky for a while and having moved to a smaller town in February last year I was unsatisfied with the Pubs in the area compared to where I used to watch Football in my hometown of Taunton. I had been thinking about Sky for a few months but was put off by the price so opted for making do with ESPN on Top Up TV. I then heard of several offers which Martin Lewis was mentioning on Moneysupermarket and I decided to have a look into it. Unfortunately there were only a limited amount of codes available so when I saw a status update on Facebook from someone who was in my Year at School who now works for Sky I jumped at the chance. I managed to get the whole TV Package at half price for 12 months which I thought was an excellent deal and was manageable financially.
When you sign up for Sky they send someone round to install the Box and setup the dish if needed. As I am living in a flat which has a satellite connection already there was no need for another dish so setup was simple and only took ten minutes or so. You are sent out your card which they will insert into the box and then will go through the process with you in case anything happens that needs the process to be repeated. Anyway once this has been done and your box is connected to Sky you can now receive all the channels that you have requested in your package. It's also simple to upgrade to extra channels or take away a package via the internet connection or by phone.
I have always liked the look of the Sky+ boxes as they look stylish and sturdy and look nice with the other equipment you have may in your setup. The box is made by Amstrad. Sky have pioneered the way people watch TV as most people nowadays have some form of TV Recorder whether it's Sky, Virgin Media, Freesat or a freeview recorder. The box has 250GB of space to record which allows an amazing
185 hours of standard TV Or around 60 hours of HD TV. This will be enough for most people but if you need to have more storage you can get the bigger hard drives all the way up to an astonishing 2TB which gives Up to 350 hours of HD TV or up to a whopping 1180 hours of standard TV. The one I have is the 250GB one and that is more than enough for Sport, Music, Films etc.
**Using the Box**
An important aspect of any recorder of player is how easy it is to use and what the on screen menus are like. Well I'm pleased to report that you'll find some excellent navigation here with menus easily readable and simple to scroll through. Channels are a little trickier to remember especially if you watch a range of material but you can add channels to your favourites and also find them through your TV Guide with a press of a button and a quick scroll through the subjects menu which divides the channels into their genre ie Sport, Music, Documentaries etc. It's also easy to setup a programme to record and you can choose to record the whole series which keeps a reminder for future shows and will record them for you without you needing to set it up again.
**Picture and Sound**
Sky are always raving about how good the experience is and the picture from this box is excellent, whether watching HD Sport or a SD episode of your favourite soap the picture will look excellent and deserves a Decent TV to show what it can really do. This Box will provide an excellent picture Whether or not you have a full HD TV. The movies look stunning on this box and the picture quality allows you to make good use of your whole package. The sound is also excellent and is ideal if you like the Music channels or want clear dialogue with the news channels. You can connect the box up to your Home Cinema Amp for even better sound quality.
**Recording and on demand**
This is a great part of the Box, You can view your recordings quickly and easily and can set reminders and record content from a variety of different menus. I have had the box for less than a month but have already recorded a fair few things and there's still loads of hours left. The on demand content includes Movies which change throughout the year. A great tool of this box is that when connected to a Broadband connection either connected to the router or through the sky wireless router you can view BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and Demand 5. This is a really great tool especially if you have a big TV Screen instead of watching Iplayer on a small PC monitor.
This is a fabulous piece of kit for a variety of reasons. It has masses of channels whether you opt for the extra packages or not and the Picture and Sound Quality really allow the Box to shine. With some decent deals out there for Sky packages it might be worth looking into if you like your Sports, Films etc or you just want to add extra channels compared to your freeview box. I wholeheartedly recommend this box as a great all round option for any TV Fan. Most people will be able to get the box free with setup too which is a real bonus.
When I joined sky just over a year ago, this was the SKY plus HD box I chose. So far I have not had any problems; in fact I really enjoy using it!
Design wise, this Sky box looks really good, especially when considered with the previous old Sky white boxes, as well as the competitor's set top boxes. It is a sleek matt black colour, but has a silver line across the front of it. The box is about 3 inches thick and around the surface area of an A4 Leaf of Paper.
The box has a very nice blue LED light on the front which can be customised, as to when you see it light up. There are a few buttons on the top of the box which allow access to the main features but usually I just use the remote control.
I will write about the actual SKY Service in another review in the next few weeks, but I'm going to focus on the actual box. It allows you to receive your Sky channels.
It brings over 60 High Definition channels on top of all the regular stations. The Sky Plus part of the name alludes to the excellent service available. When watching a live broadcast, you are able to pause and rewind, as well as record programmes. The capacity on the box is 250GB which holds around 200 hour long programmes. You can set it up to block record entire series of programmes.
It has a connection to your broadband router via Ethernet to allow you to watch a host of On Demand programmes. The download speeds are very good, and I have found personally that programmes download and are available to view in just a few seconds.
The box is very good and I have only experienced one technical problem, when the menus froze. To get around this, you do a soft reset by switching it off at the mains. It is a silent box, and even when on standby it does not bother you. The lights on the front can be as discrete and subtle as you like, so as not to encroach on your life!!
This box is basic and at times unreliable, we've had it a few years and it has done the job it's supposed to but I'm not overly impressed with it, it makes a constant whirring sound even when switched off on to Standby and sometimes vibrates which is very annoying, memory is not massive and sometimes when playing things back it gets stuck, shudders or restarts, it's annoying when recordings fail for no reason and it's very easy to delete things accidentally,
It's not bad, it's just not that great! If your looking for something basic than its fine, but don't expect too much from it, the styling is nice, it looks modern and tidy and is very easy to use, my young daughter uses it with no problems at all, overall, you get what you pay for I guess, it's good value for money, but not the best quality item out there,
==Amstrad DRX890Sky Plus HD Set Top Box==
I always said we would never get Sky but because of the deal where you get the internet, phone and extra TV channels worked out a lot cheaper than what I was already paying with BT for internet and phone I decided it was worth it (especially as I got £100 Marks and Spencer vouchers too!). Sky now gives you the Amstrad DRX890 Sky + HD Set top box when you order and I must say that we have been really pleased with the performance of this box since its arrival.
The box itself looks pretty slick and far better than the old white coloured ones which I assumed we would get. The box is not too big and has a slightly slimline design when compared to our old Freeview + set top box. The box was set up for us initially but because we still had our Freeview box installed we have since de-cluttered the TV unit and had to reinstall the box which because it is a simple HDMI cable that goes from the Sky + box to the TV this is very easily done and anyone could do it.
The box is available to buy without signing up to Sky just in case you need a replacement box but expect to pay a little over the £100 mark for one although you will also get the remote control and the HDMI cable which you will need in order for the HD aspect of the box to work well.
The box has a few buttons on top of the unit itself which enables the box to be turned on or off or the channel to be changed up or down. Because there are only a few buttons very limited actions can be performed from just using the box and the remote is an absolute must although I do end up using the power button a fair bit on the top especially when the remote control has gone walk about! As well as the few buttons on the top of the box there are a few more fairly inoffensive looking buttons positioned on the front left hand side of the box which do give you a few more options to record, fast forward, rewind and pause, mainly the actions for the plus side of the box. This is again handy for when the remote has disappeared (like it seems to do quite often!).
There are a few LCD lights positioned on the front of the box and the largest one is around the circular area in the middle of the box. This will illuminate blue and move around in a circular motion when playing something which has been recorded or when playing back live paused TV. There is a red LCD button in the centre of this which will illuminate to indicate when you are recording something and I find this handy to know especially when my little boy has recorded something accidentally (which does happen a lot). The other smaller LCD light is the power button which will glow green when the box is on and an amber colour when the box is sitting on standby.
The box has a good size 250 GB of memory which enables a good many hours of recording from the TV and this is used very often by the whole family although I am very good and will delete things once watched so we have as yet never used up all the memory as this equates to around 72 hours of recording time which is very substantial. This is more memory than my old Freeview plus box had as we forever seemed to be deleting stuff we were yet to watch because we had run out of space for the new programmes or film that we wanted to record. It is certainly nice to have a large amount of disc space to be able to have a lot of recorded things to choose from.
The HD aspect of the box is good too and because we have a HD ready LCD TV and we did initially sign up for the HD channels we did really notice the difference. Because you have to pay £10 extra on the Sky subscription we did cancel this aspect of our package within a few months due to cutting back and I can't say it was worth paying that much extra for. However the picture is super crisp and clear as is the sound and although I was fairly sceptical with this whole HD thing at first I could really see the definition in the picture when we were watching these HD channels.
The fact that this box enables you to pause or rewind live TV is a great aspect especially when watching those channels that don't have adverts and a trip tot eh toilet is needed and this aspect works really well too. The aspect of being able to record two different channels on this box really is amazing and although you can't watch another channel it is ideal to do when you are watching something already recorded onto the box. This means that we are able to watch the shows we want when we want and minus all the annoying adverts! I really can't rate it highly enough.
I was unaware until getting this box that Amstrad are a company who are actually owned by Sky and because of that fact these boxes have been tested again and again to work as well as they can with the Sky TV programmes and options. This box is far superior to the older style boxes which I was so used to operating but it took no time at all to get used to the way this box is set up and the way in which you can move around the options, planner and TV guide. I think if I was an old Sky user with one of the older boxes I would try and upgrade to one of these Sky plus HD boxes and as my mum has one of the older ones I am trying to get her to sort out getting a box like mine so she can make sure she never misses an episode of Corrie!
All in all I must say that this Amstrad box is really very good. So far we have never had any trouble with it crashing or needing to be re-started. It runs well and works excellently. The things that you are able to do on the box are really worth while in getting it and for that reason I have to award a top score 5 out of 5 stars and give it a very high recommendation. Although we were really happy with our last set top box which was a Freeview plus, this Sky plus box seems to our perform that in every way.
I do hope that this has been of some help/interest to you
Many thanks for taking the time to read.
4 years ago I thought I had no need for sky and just allowed the days to pass me by with a freeview box and a handfull of channels to watch each evening, now the worlds my oyster!!
I have the full hd package with sports and movies (6 months half price if you threaten to leave!) and you get literally hundreds of channels to watch, and although quite a few of them are just repeats you watched 5 years ago (on your freeview box) there are still a lot of good stuff to watch on sky, such as sky one (my favourite) which always has the latest series to watch!
As for the machine itself, whilst on standby it has always switched on instantaneously when using the remote control, but if you power off it takes a while longer. The picture quality on the hd channels (some free such as bbc hd) are outstanding, just like being on the set yourself!
I have the 500gb box and trust me, unless you are recording every hour you will struggle to fill this beast! 500gb is roughly around 500 hours of tv recording.
go shopping for the best sky deal, i recommend going through Topcashback.co.uk as they offer cashback as well
I have had this box for 6 months now and mechanically it has been sound but the software has been glitchy ever since initial setup. The box has a wierd lag when flicking through the planner when it's filled with recordings, normally at about 35% free space it starts to lag, and go crazy.
Not very helpful at all when deleting as this often results in me pressing the delete button over and over thinking its not recieving the remote signal or something, and it actually just lags, and then deletes however many programmes I pressed the button for. A bad mark where software is concerned but hardware has been mechanically tip top.
The setup is done by a bloke from sky who comes round to your house dressed for the occasion and spends about 15 minutes drilling holes and making a mess, it does look quite a faff to get it going but once the dish is up and the cables are in you can start watching TV. Sky + will need to switch on the HD and ability to record/rewind etc. they pretty much control everything about the box.
The hard drive is limited to personal and anytime usage and you have absolutely no say about this. If it needs 150GB to download tons of HD on demand movies you don't want to watch then that's up to the box to decide. If you need that extra space to record your favourite TV show then tough luck I'm afraid, you can't do that.
Picture quality is superb though, full HD is immaculate, no latency issues with sound or picture and it generally has a great crisp and sharp image, even on the menu's. Sound is also very good and there is no distortion, stuttering or cutting out from time to time like other boxes I've had. In poor weather the signal cuts to a bright blue screen which if you have the TV brightness up does your eyes in after a while.
Overall a pretty rubbish box. It tells you what space you can have, glitches, responds only to its master (sky) where the rewind and record is concerned, and is pretty much just used by you, mostly controlled by sky. You must delete all you favourite nature programmes so you can download yet more Mickey Mouse episodes on the kids package that you don't have, and will never watch.
I've had sky t.v. for quite a few years now. Last year my sky + box broke and, although I lost all my recorded t.v., getting a new sky + HD box was brilliant. It's the nicest looking sky box so far as it's quite streamlined, much more so than the old boxes, and the colours are much nicer (black and silver). Not only is it the nicest designed box so far, it's also the best in terms of quality. The HD is really fantastic and it really makes a difference. There are quite a lot of HD channels on offer and they include entertainment, news, movies, music and sport. I don't watch the sport channels but I watch everything else and I enjoy watching t.v. much more now because of the incredible quality. Movies and nature programmes really highlight this.
There's a huge choice of channels and I'll never watch all of them but it's nice to have choice. The entertainment channels are, in my opinion, the best thing about the sky box. You'll never be bored, there's always something on, sometimes rubbish but usually good stuff. But no matter what you want, there's a channel for it - a huge range of sport, entertainment, movies, music, news, documentaries etc, even radio channels! (Although the radio channels have some DAB ones, it doesn't have all of them which is a bit annoying.)
The ability to record, rewind, fast-forward and pause t.v. is pretty much the best thing ever. And the sky HD box takes this to a whole new level because, not only is the quality excellent, the amount you can record is a lot. You can record up to 240 hours which is great not only when there's a lot of great stuff on but also if you go on holiday and don't want to miss something.
Anytime: this provides a varied amount of shows and movies which can be watched, as the name suggests, instantly. I usually find something on here that I want to watch.
Search: It searches by the name of the programme but sometimes it can be a bit picky about what it brings up so I usuall just search using the first 3 or 4 letters.
Planner: All the recorded programmes are here and it tells me what i've got series linked (another great time saver) and what's been viewed and what hasn't. The series link button will automatically record the next programme in the series which saves me doing it.
The sky box comes with a remote which has buttons for the t.v. guide, services, box office and interactive. It also has numbers and letters for searching or switching channels. It's relatively easy to figure your way around the remote and the box itself. There is some complicated stuff in the services part but it's unlikely, unless there's a problem, that you'd have to deal with that, even then the help guide has a lot of information.
Sky really changed the game in terms of television and it's still the best one to have for a reason. Other t.v. packages (Freeview and Virgin) can try to compete but they can't really match it in terms of quality, choice and service. Overall, it's the best choice for watching t.v.
When we moved into our flat a couple of months ago it hadn't really crossed my mind to get Sky. My Mum and Dad has Sky until about 3 years ago when they got rid of it as their TV had freeview built in anyway and they just couldn't justify the monthly payment. My partner was used to Sky though as her Mum and Dad had it in their house and was keen that we got it too. We had a look online and were offered the Entertainment Plus package, free Sky+ HD box, installation and £50 worth of M&S vouchers for £25 a month which is a lot better than the price I was expecting.
I was in on my own when the Sky was in put in so when the engineer left I had full reign to explore the different features of Sky. Initially I found the menu hard to navigate as I was used to the older version and there's the added '+' element which allows you to record and pause live TV. At the top of the TV there's options to looks at the main TV, Planner which is recorded programmes, Box Office and Radio as well as setting and parental controls, this is basically the main hub and then whatever you select is displayed below. It was a bit different for me but I found I picked it up quite quickly just by using it and finding out what did what.
Obviously the stand out features of the box is the HD, which is getting better and better. I was a bit sceptical if I'm honest, how different could it be? I was shocked by just how crisp and clear the picture was, it's noticeably different from the standard picture and I was very impressed. At the moment there's about 60 HD channels, and more are being added all the time, of this about 15 are either sports of movies which we don't subscribe to as it adds a considerable amount to the bill but for what we do get I've been very pleased. It's worth mentioning that just because a programme is on a HD channel doesn't necessarily mean its HD, sometimes they don't scale everything up. I'm not a fan of nature channels but I do find myself watching them now just because the quality of the picture is so good and I find it really fascinating.
The pause function on the TV is great, how often does the phone go in the middle of Corrie or there's a film on BBC with no adverts and you're gasping for a drink but don't want to miss out? I thought we wouldn't use this function much as I'd never had it before and never thought I was missing out but how wrong I was. It's become second nature to pause TV and pop off to do something else, it's irritating now watching TV that I can't pause and rewind whenever I want. Obviously another advantage is being able to record programmes, especially when it comes to films as we've got a collection stored in the boxes memory which is about 100 hours. We often record X Factor, with its many adverts and watch it half an hour after it started. This allows us to fast forward over all the adverts and filler; we do the same with the Sunday night elimination as really there's only about 15 minutes of the 1 hour show worth watching.
I know that we used to have a lot of trouble with Sky freezing at my Mum and Dad's or cutting to the annoying blue screen, especially in bad weather. Since we've had the Sky+ HD box it has never frozen once and we've had really heavy rain and never had any signal problems so this problem must have been solved.
Another important factor to me is the box itself. The Sky+ HD box is black and silver, it's very sleek, modern and I feel would fit into most living room, it fits into our perfectly and doesn't stick out like a sore thumb like the light grey ones used to. The box plugs into a HDMI port in the back of the TV to enable the HD quality images and then obviously into a wall socket. The remote matches the box and is again very modern, it sits nicely in the hand and enables you to make the most of all the services the Sky box gives you. We're getting a 3D TV later on in the month, and at the moment I wouldn't consider upgrading but as more channels use 3D I would definitely consider it if we also added the movies package to our subscription- it's all extra money though!
Overall, I've been really impressed with my use of Sky+ HD, the box looks good and after a bit of use everything is really easy to navigate. The picture quality it a step up from the norm and I think you can really tell the difference, it's great now that more channels are starting to convert to HD. The pause and record is a great feature and one that I now wouldn't be without. I'm looking forward to being able to record all bits of Christmas TV and then watching them back whilst eating my body weight in turkey. If you're considering getting Sky+ HD I'd definitely recommend it.
Sky Plus HD Digibox / HDMI, SCART, USB, e-SATA, Ethernet, SPDIF Digital Coaxial, Composite Video (1x Cinch), SPDIF Digital Optical