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<  Satellite receivers, cable boxes and PVRs  ~  Freesat PVR or Sky+

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tichtich
Posted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 7:30 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 08 May 2005 Posts: 1389 Location: Eastbourne, UK
I'm moving to Eastbourne soon, and imagine my shock when I discovered they haven't got Freeview yet. So no more Toppy for me until Summer 2012. Sad

I'm currently deciding whether to go for Sky+ or a Freesat PVR. (There's no cable in Eastbourne either.) A basic Sky+ package is tempting, as I'd quite like to get Sky Atlantic now that Sky is buying up all the best US drama series.

Anyway my question is this: on reliability and usability, which is better, Sky+ or the best Freesat PVR (which by all accounts seems to be the Foxsat HDR)?

My recording load is pretty high, up to 70 programmes a week, and I like to set my timers a week ahead, so I sometimes use the Toppy's full 70 slots. I record a lot of radio, so radio features must be just about as good as TV. Also, I think I'm right in saying that Accurate Recording isn't always reliable, so I think autopadding is a high priority. I'd also like it to be quite easy to skip over commercial breaks. (I use QuickJump at the moment.)

I'm not sure how big the Sky+ disk is, and I've read that half of it is taken up with Anytime+. The Sky site says I'll be able to store "up to" 185 hours of SD TV. But what does "up to" mean?

The Foxsat's USB features sound nice, but I can live without them.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Feel free to point me to another source if this question has been covered before.

P.S. What do these PVRs show on the screen during radio playback? I'm a little concerned about screen burn to my plasma TV if they have a constant, unchanging image.

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DX
Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:24 am Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 06 Apr 2005 Posts: 2695
tichtich wrote:
Anyway my question is this: on reliability and usability, which is better, Sky+ or the best Freesat PVR (which by all accounts seems to be the Foxsat HDR)?

Do you mean Sky+ or Sky+ HD ? I wouldn't go for the former (although I have had Sky+in the past).

I've found both Sky+ HD and Foxsat reliable. Sky probably have the edge in usability (mostly because the Foxsat delete function is so slow).

tichtich wrote:
My recording load is pretty high, up to 70 programmes a week, and I like to set my timers a week ahead, so I sometimes use the Toppy's full 70 slots.

I've never hit a timer limit on either (but I record less than you).

tichtich wrote:
I record a lot of radio, so radio features must be just about as good as TV.

I don't think I have ever recorded radio on either box. I'm not sure what you mean about features. I've not seen Series Link used by any of the Radio channels if that is what you mean.

tichtich wrote:
Also, I think I'm right in saying that Accurate Recording isn't always reliable, so I think autopadding is a high priority.

I find Accurate Recording is OK but if you want padding both do offer it.

tichtich wrote:
I'd also like it to be quite easy to skip over commercial breaks. (I use QuickJump at the moment.)

The Foxsat is better at skipping backwards and forwards (the settings are configurable).

tichtich wrote:
I'm not sure how big the Sky+ disk is, and I've read that half of it is taken up with Anytime+. The Sky site says I'll be able to store "up to" 185 hours of SD TV. But what does "up to" mean?

You can get both SkyHD and Foxsat in 1TB versions if you want lots of space. Interestingly for these I've seen Sky claim up to 240 hours of HD while Humax claim up to 122 hours of HD.

Personally I think Humax are probably closer to the mark, but as ever it is down to how much compression the broadcasters use.

tichtich wrote:
What do these PVRs show on the screen during radio playback? I'm a little concerned about screen burn to my plasma TV if they have a constant, unchanging image.

I don't really use either for radio so I just had a quick look, Sky shows an info box about the channel. Foxsat shows either MHEG (the BBC Radio channels) or a blank screen. The BBC MHEG includes a green button screen saver.
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juwlz
Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:10 am Reply with quote
MyStuff Team Joined: 12 Aug 2005 Posts: 10801 Location: Wokingham, Berkshire (Hannington transmitter)
tichtich wrote:
I'm moving to Eastbourne soon, and imagine my shock when I discovered they haven't got Freeview yet. So no more Toppy for me until Summer 2012. Sad
Really? I thought everywhere in the UK has Freeview by now, and that it's just the date that analogue gets switched off that's variable.

I've just checked my supposed coverage at http://www.freeview.co.uk/Switchover/Meridian. The info for the (my) Hannington transmitter looks similar to that for the Rowridge transmitter (which is what I assume you'll use), i.e. they'll both go fully digital within a month of each other in 2012. However, I have been getting Freeview for several years, and get more channels than a postcode check tells me I can get.

Take the information about coverage in Rowridge with a pinch of salt.

Julie

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msteggalls
Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 10:17 am Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 22 Apr 2005 Posts: 721 Location: Ipswich, UK
Interestingly I've just checked my address on the Freeview website coverage checker, and (although not mandatory) they even ask for a house number as well as a postcode, and by that it appears I can't get Freeview until the switch over in July Shocked - so not sure then how my Toppy has been happily recording from all Freeview channels since April 2005 Laughing

No wonder people get confused - best option it to try it and see what you receive....

Martyn

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s1h1
Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:21 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 07 Dec 2009 Posts: 18
The Freeview website also claims I won't be able Freeview until next year. Strange as I've just had to put a 12db attenuator on my Toppy feed!

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alan_m
Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:58 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 18 Oct 2006 Posts: 3489
tichtich wrote:
I'm moving to Eastbourne soon, and imagine my shock when I discovered they haven't got Freeview yet. So no more Toppy for me until Summer 2012. Sad

Put your (new) postcode into Wolfbane
http://www.wolfbane.com/cgi-bin/tvd.exe?
Also check the terrain between you new address and the transmitter
http://forum.toppy.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?p=222166#222166

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tichtich
Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:08 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 08 May 2005 Posts: 1389 Location: Eastbourne, UK
From a bit of googling it seems that most people in Eastbourne can't get decent Freeview reception yet. But some can, so it might be wise to wait till I've moved in and see if I'm one of the lucky ones, before spending any money.

Thanks for the detailed reply, DX. I meant just Sky+, not Sky+ HD. I'm prepared to pay for some good extra content (particularly Sky Atlantic), but not to pay 10 pm for HD. I'm not sure whether Sky+ allows you to record the free-to-air HD channels, but I'm not sure I'd want to, as it would probably just make me dissatisfied with the other channels! Come to think of it, if I'm not interested in HD perhaps I could save money by buying a non-HD box. But I don't think Humax does a non-HD Freesat PVR, does it?

By "radio features" I meant the ability to do the same things with radio as with TV (where applicable). I've just downloaded the Foxsat HDR and Sky+ manuals, so I can compare features for myself. It seems that Sky doesn't have a radio EPG, and you have to enter radio timers manually, i.e. entering the times yourself. You can set a periodic (e.g. weekly) recording at a fixed time, but then you presumably won't get a programme name on the file, let alone other details. Further googling suggests that people have quite a lot of problems with radio recording--it seems to be a poor relation on Sky. That's a big mark against it for me, since I record a lot of radio.

Presumably the Foxsat lets you set radio timers from the EPG. But I don't fancy setting the same timers every week, so I'd like Series Link or periodic recording (with programme name). I can't see any periodic recording option mentioned in the Foxsat manual. But I understand Series Link is available for radio in the Freeview EPG, at least for Radio 4 (which is what I mostly use). So maybe Freesat has it too.

Another possible issue for radio is navigation during playback. Without sound cues it may be impractical to use FF and REW, if they're even available. With my Toppy I use a variety of QuickJump keys. The Foxsat seems to have one configurable button for jump forward and one for jump back, which presumably work for radio, but that's a bit limiting. I suppose the alternative is to use the Play Bar.

Also, it looks like Sky+ combines its archive and timer list into one, and has no folders. For someone who records as much as I do, that could be a bit of a nuisance. Even with folders, on the Foxsat, the lack of Automove to folder will be annoying. Oh, Toppy, how I'll miss you.

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gomezz
Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:18 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 18 Nov 2005 Posts: 3985 Location: Buckingham
The South Coast has always been a problem for reception of all kinds due to having to fit in with the needs of those pesky continentals. Wink

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tichtich
Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:44 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 08 May 2005 Posts: 1389 Location: Eastbourne, UK
alan_m wrote:
Put your (new) postcode into Wolfbane
http://www.wolfbane.com/cgi-bin/tvd.exe?
Also check the terrain between you new address and the transmitter
http://forum.toppy.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?p=222166#222166

Thanks for that. It shows me having a clear LOS to the Hastings transmitter, which some people in Eastbourne say they can use for DTT.

The same's true for my sister's house, which is nearby, and she tells me she can't get Freeview. But maybe her aerial was set up for analogue and she hasn't tried changing it.

I think Wolfbane doesn't take into account above-ground obstructions like trees and buildings. There are some trees right next to the block I'm moving to which might obstruct the LOS. Really, I won't know till I move in, or ask a current resident. (I haven't spoken to the current occupants of the flat, but the landlord tells me they have Sky.)

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Firmware: 5.13.65 (patched). Auto Start TAPs: TapCommander 1.0.2, Power Down 0.6, DescriptionExtender 2.2, mei2archive 3.8I3, Automove 1.8, QuickJump 1.54, Improbox 2.1RC8, Jag's EPG 3.0b3 (TV & radio), Media Manager 1.5, MHEG Control A2g, Extend 1.7. PC apps: DGtoTop 1.1. Profile last updated 13/05/2009
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nvingo
Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 11:10 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 07 Jul 2010 Posts: 102 Location: Norfolk
tichtich wrote:
I meant just Sky+, not Sky+ HD. I'm prepared to pay for some good extra content (particularly Sky Atlantic), but not to pay 10 pm for HD. I'm not sure whether Sky+ allows you to record the free-to-air HD channels, but I'm not sure I'd want to, as it would probably just make me dissatisfied with the other channels! Come to think of it, if I'm not interested in HD perhaps I could save money by buying a non-HD box. But I don't think Humax does a non-HD Freesat PVR, does it?
I had heard Sky were only providing HD boxes now, whether or not HD was requested.

A Sky+ box is an SD-only receiver so wouldn't receive/display subscription or free HD channels.

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DX
Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 11:38 pm Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 06 Apr 2005 Posts: 2695
tichtich wrote:
Thanks for the detailed reply, DX. I meant just Sky+, not Sky+ HD. I'm prepared to pay for some good extra content (particularly Sky Atlantic), but not to pay 10 pm for HD. I'm not sure whether Sky+ allows you to record the free-to-air HD channels, but I'm not sure I'd want to, as it would probably just make me dissatisfied with the other channels! Come to think of it, if I'm not interested in HD perhaps I could save money by buying a non-HD box. But I don't think Humax does a non-HD Freesat PVR, does it?

I think all the Freesat PVR's are HD, although you could get a non-Freesat SD PVR. That would leave you without the EPG, so probably not an option.

I take your point about the 10 a month HD subscription with Sky+ HD but that would only be for a year. You could view it as a one-off charge of 120 and cancel after the initial 12 months. The 10 HD charge is only for the subscription HD channels so as long as you continue to subscribe to Sky SD channels, you will also be able to record the free HD channels like BBC HD.

Going with Sky+ HD rather than Sky+, even if all you want is the SD channels, is also more future proof. So later you could hook it up to a broadband connection for on demand video.
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tichtich
Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:17 am Reply with quote
Frequent contributor Joined: 08 May 2005 Posts: 1389 Location: Eastbourne, UK
Thanks for the suggestion, DX, but I still wouldn't want to pay the extra 120. I can always upgrade to HD later if I want to, and if nvingo is right, I might get an HD box at no extra cost anyway.

I do have another question, if you don't mind, about how these boxes (Foxsat and Sky+) handle Series Links? When I SL a series that has multiple broadcasts of each episode during the week, does it automatically record the first broadcast of each episode? Or does it attempt to record the broadcast I had highlighted when I selected SL (and the equivalent one each week)? Is the broadcast that it currently plans to record listed in the timer list/planner? If I then set two other timers that conflict with that broadcast, will it automatically switch to another broadcast? Will it switch to another channel (e.g. a +1, or C4 to E4) if necessary?

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juwlz
Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:17 pm Reply with quote
MyStuff Team Joined: 12 Aug 2005 Posts: 10801 Location: Wokingham, Berkshire (Hannington transmitter)
On my Humax Foxsat (Freesat HD PVR), when you select a programme from the EPG, it (usually!) gives you the option to record the entire series, and when you choose to do that, it files all (well, most of) the recordings to a folder named after the first episode.

So, for instance, all episodes of QI that we record now are filed in the "QI Christmas Special" folder (or something along those lines - I'm not home to check it atm). We also recorded The Trip before Christmas. Some episodes are filed in the folder, and some aren't. You don't get any option (that we've found) to either change the name of the folder or to move recordings into/out of a folder once you've got them.

As I've said elsewhere, as the machine was never intended to replace our Toppy, (and because our energies have been focussed elsewhere,) we haven't really done any investigation as to why/when things work or don't work as expected.

The Accurate signals seem to be of limited value - we gave up on relying on them as LOADS of programmes got trucated at the end. We've now set it to always add the maximum padding (which isn't much) to the end of programmes, and have lost fewer endings that way ... but of course, that relies on nothing actually overrunning by much.

Julie

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juwlz
Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:18 pm Reply with quote
MyStuff Team Joined: 12 Aug 2005 Posts: 10801 Location: Wokingham, Berkshire (Hannington transmitter)
P.S. I've never used a Sky box, much less a Sky+ box, so can't comment on how well / badly that fares by comparison, nor can I tell you whether our experience with the FoxSat is "normal".

Julie

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alpine*
Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 3:54 pm Reply with quote
Regular contributor Joined: 24 Apr 2007 Posts: 84 Location: Rayleigh Crystal Palace Tx
juwlz wrote:
You don't get any option (that we've found) to either change the name of the folder or to move recordings into/out of a folder once you've got them.
Julie

You can do all of these in 'file manager'... press MEDIA then OPT+
blue or yellow renames and green moves in/out of folders. Remember the folder you want to move to has to be opened before you can move a file to it.

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