TV & PC CONNECTIVITY
The first Sky+HD box supplied to a new subscriber is 'free' against a one year Sky contract; an undertaking to connect the Skybox to a phone line for a year. The normal operation of the phone line is unaffected. The Sky+HD box will dial out only when the viewer requests interactive services or from a satellite command from Sky for operational reasons; normally Sky's call lasts a few seconds.
A newer Sky+HD box with more than 2x or 4x the recording capacity- 1TB or 2TB- is available at extra cost. A further recent enhancement is a built-in wireless connection to a router for all new Sky+HD boxes; best to hard-wire but not always convenient.
A non-PVR Sky Mini HD Box was intoduced in late 2010. The Sky Link control requires a new Global product (available July 2012) that enables a RF control feed to another room. Also maybe capable in future of accessing recordings from a Sky+HD Box by Cat5e connection.
Receivers and installation can be obtained from Sky or a Sky authorised satellite installer/retailer. It is essential that installations that require work outside the flat/apartment involve the block system installer who is responsible for its maintenance. This also applies to non-Sky installations. ie no extra external dishes can be installed without the managing agents' written permission. Further, devices that rely on radio to send TV to another room- e.g. Video Senders- can cause interference in adjacent flats; possibly infringing the lease. Also 'Dect' Phone (i.e. cordless telephone) base stations interfere with satellite TV on certain frequencies. Problem is known to Sky & Ofcom. Usually cured by re-locating base stations by a few meters. Often cause is a base station in an adjacent flat. This frequency conflict may have arisen from a licence agreement between the EU & UK regulators- ie Ofcom's predecessors- in 1998/99 when it was thought that Cable TV would eclipse Satellite TV. The Dect Phone/Satellite TV interference problem occurs throughout Europe on a limited number of frequencies. In extremis, triple-screened co-ax cable maybe a cure in the room(s) affected.
Several internal flat upgrades are available if the embedded cabling exists or cable can be fitted with minimal impact on the decor. ie a link from the SkyHD box to another TV in another room (ie TV Link by co-axial/or Cat5e). Perhaps a 2nd SkyHD box is required in another room. This requires 1 or 2 Sky feeds from the local communal switch- a job for the block installer, provided decor issues are resolved.
Access to Sky´s High Definition (`HDTV´) services requires the SkyHD boxes to be connected to a flat panel TV that is `HD-Ready´ or 'Full HD'; see `Plasma/LCD Panel TV's' below;
There is a wide range of 'general satellite receivers' available with prices from £60 upwards. The vast majority are principally designed for the 'moving dish market' & are less suitable for apartment block systems where one or two large dishes are shared by perhaps hundreds of flats through an Integrated Reception System ('IRS').
Over the last 8 years most of the major 'GSR' manufacturers eg Echostar, Humax & Pace have moved to broadcaster receiver production as the 'GSR' market is uneconomic for large producers, at least in the UK. (nb: Freesat & Freeview boxes are deemed to be 'broadcaster' sponsored.). A 'GSR' is hardware sourced from, say, China or S Korea & software. Good software requires highly paid specialists to write & update; perhaps the combination has become unattractive in current conditions. Ancilliary software for, say, good 'channel editors' is often poorly supported.
There are only three makes of GSR's that can truly be called 'Sats4Flats Ready' for most of their range: Icecrypt, Technomate & Topfield.
Only Icecrypt & Technomate are distrbuted in the UK. Topfield´s most appropriate models- SBP-2000Ci & SBP-2001Ci+ -may still be available in Germany.
'Sats4Flats Ready' requires:
1. Comprehensive website for firmware updates for all its models, both new & discontinued.
2. Channel Editor Software that can be updated & is easy to use. Allowing installers to create several channel update files on a pc with favourites lists tailored to nationality or other preferences.
3. DiSEqC v1.1 switching capability. Receiver software that allows flexibility in 'splicing in' other orbital positions with one or more relay switches. eg Spaun SUR 211F &/or SUR 420F
4. Software updates- Firmware/or a Channel Editor- fast by USB memory stick eg All Icecrypt & Technomate models, also Topfield SBP 2000Ci.
5. LNB menu set-up that allows choice of LNB Local Oscillator frequencies & also '22 Khz tone' on/off.*
*e:g. The Dreambox product line does not comply with 5. as factory configured.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other AudioVideo Equipment:
There are now many millions of flat panel TV`s in the UK; the growth rate is much higher than forecast. Almost all current models comply with the EICTA (now part of Digital Europe) `HD Ready` standard for broadcast High Definition TV. Some of the more recent examples are also capable of the even higher resolution of Full HD which is available from a new generation of DVD players; discs marketed as the `Blu-Ray`format. High Definition TV is developing into even higher resolutions- eg 4K Ultra HD- not only for consumer TV but also for security, medical, defence & industrial applications.NB: 8K resolution is in test phase in Japan
Traditionally UK TV's were designed to operate from more than one type of video signal through the rear scart connections. The best picture quality for Standard Definition TV utilised "RGB" or ``Component``connections. Satellite receivers, including the original Skybox, can be easily configured to output RGB. This connection is NOT recommended for many 4:3 conventional tv's but is now the minimum for lcd & plasma panel's which work best with HDMI or DVI-D digital connections even when used with non HD TV sources.
See above for reference to High Definition ´Blu-Ray´ DVD recorders.
Recent non-HDTV DVD players have HDMI sockets to maximise the picture quality of standard DVD playback,especially those players with an up-scaling facility.
The conventional analogue outputs remain an option. Often the available TV scart inputs are less than required. The solution maybe to select S-Video (y/c) rather than RGB. This can go directly to a S-Video scart input or to the S-Video inputs on the TV's front connection bay.
Most Plasma & LCD/LED TV's have a 'Component' AV input. Used where an HDMI input/output is unavailable. Most DVD players have 'Component' AV output. 'Component' is comparable to RGB in video quality & is also compatible with 'Progessive Scan'- a feature of many DVD players & plasma/LCD TV's. Some plasma displays & high-end DVD players also have an option for '3:2 or 2:2 Pulldown Detection'- these two attributes smooth motion in the display of movies; the latter further compensates for different frame rates. This improves Vertical resolution.
AV Custom Installations- HDMI switchers have superceded Component to distribute HD images through the home. Cat5e/Cat6a cabling is relatively inexpensive. An expanding choice of distribution components from firms like CYP & WyreStorm have aided the design of easy-to-use installations.Ideally cabling a home is done during a major renovation so that cabling is hidden in the decor. The main TV Hub is, for example, star-wired with 1x co-ax (WF100) + 3x Cat5e + 2xCat6a to each slaved viewing point. The TV Hub may require upto 8x or more WF100 co-ax cables from a 12 or 16 IF input Spaun multi-switch fed from dishes on roof, patio etc.
Broadband internet is available from the existing telephone connection or the local cable operator. A third platform is available from satellite but really only a last option for rural or isolated areas. It uses a high speed downlink with conventional modem return path. This type of broadband connection maybe sourced from an apartment block system. However BT`s plans to take broadband to almost all UK exchanges & continuing advances in wireless broadband (eg WiMax) may supplement this technology.
BT & Virgin Media are deploying fast broadband throughout the UK with speeds of 30 to 70+ Mbps. The up-to-date requirement is to enable, say, two HD streamed TV services to 2 TV's + radio from a Sonos system to the rest of the home whilst a pc/laptop/smartphone is surfing the internet, without 'dropouts' to maintain best images comparable to a conventional satellite transmission of high quality HD.
Sky has its 'On Demand' service which is streaming from Sky's servers. On-the-move devices eg I-Pads can also stream Sky & other TV type content.
Streaming- many recent flat panel TV's; DVD Blu-Ray players have a streaming capability for a limited number of applications, selected by the TV/DVD manufacturer.
Costs, Contact & Technical