Sky’s hype about their Sky+ box is that it will ‘change the way you watch TV’… and for once, the hype wasn’t wrong.
Sky+ is a combined satellite TV receiver and a Personal Video Recorder (PVR), which records up to 40 hours of TV onto a built-in hard-disk, as opposed to video tape. This gives you a huge amount of control over how you watch TV.
With Sky+ Digiboxes you can:
Watch one channel while recording another
Record two different channels at the same time, while watching a recorded show
Browse through a week’s worth of TV with the on-screen programme guide, selecting which shows to record
Select recordings from your Sky Planner, and copy them off to a video or DVD recorder.
Follow a series – The excellent ‘Series link’ can be used to record episodes of your favourite series automatically, keeping track of schedule changes, and avoiding repeats.
Pause live TV – handy for when the phone rings.
Rewind live TV, if you missed a piece of the action
The Sky+ box really is a top offering – you’ll find you change your TV watching behaviour – no need to worry about setting the video recorder to keep up-to-date with a series, and with the drive holding around 40 hours of shows, no more running out of tape
You also find you can stagger your watching – less more programme clashes, and using Live Pause means you can fast-forward through adverts.
The Sky+ box supports ‘padding’ or recording offset, which is a setting that allows you to add a number of minutes of recording time to the scheduled start and end times of programmes. This means that the box will record a few extra minutes in case a program doesn’t start quite when it should, for occasions where the Sky+ EPG isn’t aware of overruns. To edit the settings, press Services, and select Sky+ setup.
Sky+ and Sky+HD give you a fair amount of control over how you keep shows on your box. A typical setting is to have Sky+ record shows, and automatically delete shows you’ve watched when your disk is nearly out of space. There’s also an option from the Sky+ planner to mark a recording as one to “Keep” to the system will never automatically tidy it.
To earn their green credentials, Sky’s set-top boxes have Auto Standby, and switch off to conserve energy. This happens when the box has not been used for two hours after 11pm. Before going to Standby, you’ll see the message “Sky+ is about to go to standby – press backup to continue”. Recordings will still record when in standby. If you want to turn this feature off, press Services, go to ‘Sky+ Setup’ and set ‘Auto Standby’ to ‘Off’
Sky+ was recently awarded top of the PVRs in a PVR survey conducted by a leading UK consumer organisation.
There were several different specifications of Sky+ digiboxes. These are commonly referred to as PVR1, PVR2, PVR2.5 and PVR3.
PVR1 – first generation, 40GB, no Sky Anytime
– Pace BSKYB3000 (9F20xx) – silver and black
PVR2 – 2nd generation, 40GB, no Sky Anytime
– Pace BSKYB3100 (9F21xx) – white, card flap left, no air vents on top
– Amstrad DRX180 (4F20xx) – white, card flap right, top covered in air vents
PVR2.5 – 160GB, no Sky Anytime
– Thomson DSI6210 (4E20xX) – white with “160” design on front panel
PVR3 – 3rd generation 160GB (80GB personal storage), Sky Anytime
– Pace TDS470N (9F22xx) – white, card flap left, air vents on top in two blocks
– Amstrad DRX280 (4F21xx) – white, card flap right, top covered in air vents
– Thomson DSI8210 (4E21xX) – white, card flap right, no air vents in top
Sky Anytime was available on newer Sky+ boxes and Sky+ HD boxes. This service makes use of extra disk space on the newer Sky’s hard drive, and downloads a selection of Sky’s content and movies to the box while the box is idle. These shows can be viewed on demand.
Shows delete themselves after a number of days, to free space for other Anytime programmes. If you want to keep an Anytime show, you can use the ‘R’ button to move it to your standard recordings list.
Sky Anytime is not available on older Sky+ boxes (the early models had smaller hard drives). Sky Anytime is a free service for Sky+ / Sky+ HD subscribers.
What Do I need to use Sky+ on my Satellite Dish / Requirements
Your satellite dish will need to have two cable feeds run from the LNB to the Sky+ Digibox. Normal installations only require one cable feed from the satellite dish LNB, but as the Sky+ box has two tuners (to allow simultaneous viewing and recording of different channels), then two feeds from the dish are required.
Sky+’s functionality is available as part of your monthly Sky TV subscription, otherwise you’ll need to pay £10 a month to use Sky+s recording services.
If you want to use the box’s PVR features, but you don’t want to subscribe to a Sky channel package, you can use the features with the Free to Air channels on Sky, however it’ll cost you £10 a month to use Sky+. You can set up the Sky+ subscription by contacting Sky Customer Services.
If the hard drive in the Sky+ unit is running all the time, it’s probably been set to use Instant Rewind, which constantly records whatever’s being watched, in case you want to rewind what you’re watching. To disable this, press the “Services” button, select Option 5 (Sky+ Setup) and set Instant Rewind to ‘Off’.
There’s a hidden feature to allow the (advanced) user to perform a tidy on the Sky+ hard disk, which is a little bit like a PC defragment. Many users have found that this has recovered valuable disk space. If you want to give it a try, you need to go into the Installer menu (see above, and select the “Sky+ Planner rebuild” option).
Sky+ Pace 3100 Digibox (PVR2)
40GB HDD / 400GB Personal Storage
More Information on the Sky+ Pace 3100
Sky+ Pace TDS470N Digibox (PVR3)
160GB HDD / 80GB Personal Storage
More Information on the Sky+ Pace TDS470N Digibox
Sky+ Amstrad DRX 280 Digibox (PVR3)
160GB HDD / 80GB Personal Storage
More Information on the Sky+ Amstrad DRX 280 Digibox