Saturday, November 25, 2006
Direct-To-Home TV rocks!
A few months ago, my editor suddenly asked me to change the type of gadget reviews that we had been doing, "They're too geeky and read like bloody press releases. You're cheating the user, why would he read a review if he can get everything online." Sadly, he was right. And of the first product shootouts in the updated column was a Tata-Sky vs Dish TV comparison. After a couple of months, I still have both systems, I bought Tata-Sky and the DishTV folks are dithering on taking back their system, and unlike other gadgets I can't just pack it up and return it because it does need to be manually dismantled.
If you want my honest opinion, my money spoke, I actually bought Tata-Sky, because it is the better albeit more expensive system. Why? Reason one - while I can play around with the settings on DishTV and the system also tells me signal strength and all that, the Tata-Sky user interface and remote is eons ahead in terms of sheer usability. Secondly, and I started noticing this after a while, is that the picture quality on Dish TV is inferior to that of Tata-Sky. When did I notice this? While watching soccer - to be more precise, the Champions League on Ten Sports when I started to notice obscene amounts of pixellation. The adverts promised DVD quality images, what I was getting was VCD quality images with great sound.
Then, I started to keep a sharper eye out during more mundane programming on AXN and Discovery Travel and Living and started to notice 'artefacts' like you see on a badly encoded DVD. To be fair, I noticed that even on Tata-Sky the picture quality leaves a bit to be desired, but I only noticed that on my friends brand-new 42-inch LCD TV. In addition, the program listing facility is also much better on Tata-Sky.
Somehow, I also have the funny feeling that Tata-Sky will also be the first to offer HDTV capabilities on their channel, but given what HDTV will do our news-anchors exposing their physical flaws (though not their false accents), I doubt I'll be seeing that anytime soon. And since Tata-Sky doesn't show CNN-IBN for some strange reason (not that I mind, very honestly but this means that I doubt TV18 can give Tata-Sky a 'honest' review on any of their shows) I don't really care. In fact, I don't really care for news channels anyway, they're quite boring.
At Rs 3,999, the Tata-Sky system is quite expensive, DishTV comes in far cheaper at Rs 3,190, so you basically get what you pay for, in addition the monthly charges aren't much off your cable bill if you subscribe to a 'premium' package - which if you're reading this you probably will - those will cost upwards of Rs 300 a month, but look at it this way, that is still under Rs 10 a day and really thats nothing much. Plus chances are you're already paying around Rs 300 for cable, so the only investment you're making is for the dish and the set-top box - but you get better picture (even on DishTV) and stereo sound. I mean, really!
So, and now let me use a line I used to in high school debating, in conclusion, if you can afford it, just go in for DTH. Conditional Access Systems (CAS) won't really change anything unless the stupid coaxial cable being used to bring TV to your house is changed. Put simply, this is very good and I like it and you only get the 'Active' systems on DTH. I'll tell you why I like DTH, it has made TV viewing fun again, and that in itself is reason enough to get it. And thae fact that you are finally free of the neighbourhood goon who runs your cable TV system.
A colleague and a fellow Stephanian warns me that Anil Wilson, Principal of that hallowed institution has a blog! Well, I'm linking it here. Enjoy!