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!


Anonymous said...

I bought Tata-Sky after testing out both. I found pic quality distinctly better. Also, if you have a Sony set, you can gauge the signal strength.
Pic quality is really DVD like, as they promise, as is the sound.

Most of the vendors seemed to push Tata Sky, even those who vend both. So naturally, as a buyer, your level of comfort will be higher with Tata Sky. Recharges are also easier to get as POS are more - it's almost as easy and convenient as buying mobile pre-paid cards. I also spoke to one who used to distribute Dish and said that customer service was a serious issue with the service provider. Probably they would have pulled up their socks now somewhat.

Also, I think one needs to have a LCD or any Sony to enjoy the pic quality the best. It's an all new TV viewing experience - particularly when it comes to stuff like EPL or the Ashes.

- Bonatellis

GBO said...

Kingfisher First, frankly I still like the suave elegance of Jet Airways Club Premiere, and you know I am top-of-the-heap on both airlines. Too much red, and as my DI used to say, look at their shoes, look at their feet, not their legs.

So when do you start doing honest comparatives on cars boss? Now that the manufacturers are seeing the writing on the filling station and tumbling over each other to place smaller and even smaller engines under the bonnet?

Do that, and watch them label you into camps.

Its raining crap said...

I read one of your 'fans' mention your blog in a 'newspaper' (ironically) column...Think it's good idea to post your thoughts without your editor's 'special' - point of views.Din't get time to read through all. But entertaining. Keep up the good work.

Inderjit said...

Tata Sky is a racist company have stopped relaying ETC PUNJABI Channel which carries LIVE GURBANI from Golden Temple, Amritsar for 6 hrs daily

Anonymous said...

Who cares about ETC PUNJABI

Anonymous said...

That is also because ETC Punjabi does not care about viewers and broadcasters are not following TRAI norms of a la carte channels on DTH! It has more to do with the broadcaster than the delivery mechanism...