Product Type: Sky TV channels
Newest Review: ... changed since the earlier versions or changes are not applied consistently. The HD Boxes had a major upgrade recently and all they ha... more
Sky take their position as market leader for granted
Member Name: itypegoo8-D
Advantages: Market leader, More Channels
Disadvantages: User Experience could be really improved
This review focuses on the Sky+ box itself rather than the Sky+ service. I would however advise you to speak to friends, family, workmates etc and find out what they pay for their specific Sky service. One of my relatives told me he was paying £45 per month for a HD package when I was paying £80-90 for a lower one (i didn't believe him!). He had phoned Sky and said BT had called him and were going to sign him up so they offered him a loyalty deal. When we phoned Sky they told us we hadn't been with them long enough and we didn't already have HD but they could offer £15 off so we now pay £75 for the movie+sports+espn package plus we had a free upgrade to 3 HD Boxes (we had to pay £99 for one 1 Terabyte box, on a side note the storage space on the HD boxes is massive. I have around 10 David Attenborough series such as Life, Planet Earth, Life of Mammals etc recorded on a 1TB box and the box is at 70% space available).
One last thing to know is that Sky have different teams depending on the job. The first installation guy that came said he couldn't do the job as it involved touching the dish and it need a specialist height team. He did it in the end (he tethered his ladder to the wall by drilling into it! I would have held it for him but didn't know if I was qualified seeing as Sky had a specialist team...).
Back to the review! Firstly HD is amazing for sports, movies, documentaries etc where the visual difference is really noticeable with small details, lighting and backgrounds looking really crisp compared to the standard channels. Having watched HD at friends and families houses who have Virgin the picture quality has been pretty much the same to my eyes so if this is your major concern I would not worry, for me HD quality is pretty much the same between Sky and Virgin from what I have seen.
The problem for me with Sky+ is the design of the box for users. The menu hasn't changed since the earlier versions or changes are not applied consistently. The HD Boxes had a major upgrade recently and all they have done is make it look prettier as far as i can see.
One thing that annoys me is channels like BBC, ITV, C4 have their HD channels somewhere random i.e. BBCHD is channel 143, C4 is 230 instead of being at 101,104 which are still standard definition. This is annoying as by habit I go to 101 for BBC1 watch the 200m olympic final feeling like something's not right and then realise it's not on BBCHD because that 's on 143! The sports and movies don't have this problem so I assume it is something to do with Sky and non-Sky channels.
Sky Search: The search function on the sky box is just not worth it. It sometimes works but if i want 50/50 i'll flip a coin.I have typed in "Life" knowing it was on and it returns no programs.
Sky Planner: is the Sky Box's program recorder. You access it by pressing the green button on the TV guide. It is the place to manage programs that have been recorded on the sky box. The Series Link option allows whole series' to be recorded automatically as they come on tv. The strange part of the Planner is how you delete and keep programs. To keep a program you press the blue button, all this does is that when you try to delete it later it will ask you to confirm you want to delete the program. The problem with this is that it is dumb! If you don't press blue to keep a program it will just delete it, so if you went to the wrong item by accident and press yellow unlucky your program is gone! Every program should be "keep" by default as there is no recovery feature if you delete by accident. The flip side is that if you record a series and press keep on one it keeps every episode so when time comes to delete you have to go one by one to each episode and press delete then confirm delete for each one. You would think Sky would be able to give you a tick box option so that you can select multiple programs at once and confirm delete once but no the process is "select one program confirm you want to delete one program".
Anytime: The Sky+ anytime option is like a showcase for programs that Sky want to draw to your attention. This is a great idea but from what I have seen Virgin do theirs much better. On Sky you press the red button on the TV guide and a list comes up of programs. These programs can be anything from docs, reality tv, movies, sports highlights etc. The movies it lists is actually quite good as they are usually the ones that Sky are showcasing that month. The rest of the options are hit and miss, if you like it you like it if not wait until the next update. On Virgin I have been shown that you can rate programs with 1,2 or 3 thumbs up to tell the system that these types of programs interest you, the Virgin box will then record those types of programs for you. It's pretty cool from what I have seen. It seems that Sky use anytime to push what they want you to see but Virgin help you find new programs like the ones you already watch and like. The strangest part is that if one of the random programs turns out to be interesting you can't series link from anytime! That's right you have to go through the tv guide to the program and record from there (because the search doesn't work remember!). Why Sky want to showcase stuf they want you to continue watching as a series but not let you easily record it is beyond me.
Sky Go: This is sky's mobile/internet option that allows you to watch sky on the move. It is really amazing however setting it up is a real pain as there are always problems registering devices. You are allowed to register two devices but you can only change one device a month. The problem is that the system just doesn't perform as intended. The last time I had a problem replacing a device it still didn't work having jumped through all the hoops and waited a whole month. I phoned sky support and the advisor told me that as i had removed a device prior to adding it the system had counted it as a change, yes removing a device counts as a change before you add the new device so really you seem to need 2 changes a month just to change one device! To top it off everytime I phone them they remind me that this is a free service as provided by Sky (I always ask them for the sky fraud team as I'm sure I pay them money every month)
These are the main features I use and I would assume the TV ones are the main functions most people would use day-to-day. If Sky could really improve what fancy people like to call User Experience then they could be the only real option to recommend. Even with only a tiny amount of experience with Virgin at friends houses I can see plenty of improvements that Sky could make to their TV Service.
I'm sure Virgin users would be able to point out flaws in the Virgin service but from my small experience with Virgin at other people's houses I think Sky could learn a lot from them at this time. I do feel I would be a Virgin customer if their service was available in my area.
Summary: Sky are ok but the software on their box needs improving