Sky+ HD 2TB $240

3rd Oct 2013 | 12:43

Sky+ HD 2TB

Huge 2TB hard drive and now with added Wi-Fi

TechRadar rating:

4.5 stars

Sky's box gets Wi-Fi, can store up to 250 hours of HD and looks identical to its predecessor. On-demand has been boosted, the EPG is a snap to navigate and HD looks tremendous. HDMI's still chained to stereo, though.

Like:

1.5TB recording space; In built Wi-Fi; HD image quality; Easy to use;

Dislike:

On-Demand work in progress; No 5.1 Dolby Digital over HDMI; No multimedia file playback; Clunky search;

Introduction

With 67 HD channels, a 3D channel and a newly extended catch-up service, Sky is comfortably ahead of the rest when it comes to offering pay TV subscribers a range of channels to choose from.

But with so much to dine on you're gonna need a bigger boat if you want to keep on top of all the sport, movies and other entertainment available, and in the increasingly online world you'll also need an internet connection. Enter the new Sky+HD 2TB box - with built in Wi-Fi.

The nomenclature is a tad misleading, though. As with the previous 2TB PVR sans Wi-Fi, this latest receiver only offers 1.5TB of user recording space than. The remaining 500GB is portioned off for on-demand services.

But whatever way you cut it, it can sure fit in a heck of a lot of TV episodes - up to 350 hours of HD (or 1180 hours of SD) shows in fact.

Design wise, the new Sky+ HD 2TB with Wi-Fi is identical to the previous 2TB box, with one small change - the inclusion of a WPS button and Wi-Fi LED on the front.

This Sky/Amstrad-made box still measures a compact 351 x 265 x 73mm (13.8 x 10.4 x 2.9 inches) and has a curvy, glossy finish and comparable jack pack.

Sky+ HD 2TB with Wi-Fi

In addition to HDMI, there are two digital audio outputs (optical and coaxial), Scart (needless to say you'll not benefit from HD if you use this), a pair of F-connectors, Ethernet, RJ45 telephone jack plus inactive e-SATA and USB ports from and back.

The Sky viewing card slots lurks behind a small fascia flap on the right. The default Sky remote is also supplied.

The Sky+ HD 2TB set-top box is priced at £49 (around AU$76/US$79) for existing Sky customers who take an HD subscription. New customers joining with HD can get the box for £149 (around AU$231/US$240).

Other charges may apply depending on your chosen package or setup. Sky charges £30 as a standard set-up cost for new customers, and £60 for existing Sky TV customers. However, self-set up is available for £15.

Sky+ HD 2TB review

To access the full bouquet of Sky+ HD channels requires a £10.25 increment to your chosen Sky package price.

If you want to buy an extra Sky+ HD 2TB box, or buy the box without a Sky+ HD subscription, it will cost you £249.

Getting online

With the new Sky+ HD 2TB box getting online is much easier. No longer do you have to dig out a cable to connect your router to the back of the box, or fork out extra cash for a Wi-Fi adapter.

The new Sky+ HD 2TB PVR comes with Wi-Fi built in, and while Sky has taken its sweet time about getting round to including this feature we're thankful it's finally here.

If your Sky internet router has a WPS button on it then connecting your new box couldn't be simpler - just press and hold the button on your router for two seconds and then press the WPS button on your Sky+HD box and the two will pair up.

For those of you rocking an older Sky router - or any other router for that matter - then you'll need to enter the settings menu on the Sky box and input your network's password.

To get here press Services, 0 and then 5 on your Sky remote to get to the Network tab and then select one of the three ways to connect the box to your wireless network.

When a connection has been successfully made the wireless LED light on the front of the box while go from flashing amber to solid amber.

Features

The original Sky+ recorder effectively set the template for all other PVRs to follow, and this latest iteration doesn't deviate much from the formula.

A seven day ahead electronic programme guide (EPG) enables you to record shows or series, plus there's Live Pause and - most recently and excitingly - Undelete.

Sky+ HD 2TB review

The latter provides a welcome safety net. Should a family member 'accidentally' erase your carefully manicured stack of Star Trek: TOS Remastered (thank you CBS Action), you can pull Kirk and co back from the black hole of oblivion.

The most fundamental change from earlier Sky propositions is the revamped and engorged on-demand offerings.

Thankfully Sky continues to push new shows and movies into the box overnight just as it did with AnyTime, which enables you to find surprises that might otherwise have been lost amid the EPG, and now there's Pull-based catch-up content as well.

In addition to BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and Demand 5, there's content from Sky One, Sky Atlantic, Sky Living, Sky Arts and Sky Sports. And 4od is promised for 2013.

Usability

When it comes to sheer usability, Sky has this game nailed with the Sky+ HD 2TB. The main menu navigation is clean and simple, sub-menus are clear, and the EPG is snap to navigate.

When it comes to searching for content, though, it's a bit of a dog's dinner. Finding a needle in a haystack would probably be easier.

Sky+ HD 2TB review

Thankfully, this no longer really matters, since search functionality is now very effectively covered by the Sky+ app, which increasingly is becoming part and parcel of the user experience.

The latest version of the Sky+ app for iPad, blessed with Zeebox technology, enhances viewing with metadata-linked search and some social media. The Android app isn't as advanced, but still offers remote recording, search and channel highlights.

Sky+ HD 2TB review

In terms of raw audio-visual performance, the Sky+ HD 2TB box doesn't disappoint (although there are the usual caveats). The best of Sky's HD channel output, which includes Sky Sports F1 HD, is recorded with mirror-perfect fidelity.

When it comes to 1080i TV transmissions, you won't find better. Naturally some of the lower budget SD channels aren't up to snuff, although the box will try valiantly to upscale them depending on how the picture set-up menu has been configured.

The service is also fully compatible with Sky's Side-By-Side format 3D output. While this lacks the clarity of flat high-definition, it's entertaining enough if funny spectacles are your thing.

Sky deserves a pat on the back for at least maintaining its commitment to the third dimension, given the withering disregard expressed by consumers at large. It's probably fair to say that we won't see 3D being ramped up much going forward, but at least there's been no let-up in free and new Pay TV offerings from the channel.

Sky+ HD 2TB review

Perhaps disappointingly, Dolby Digital 5.1 is still only available over a separate digital audio lead - the HDMI feed is slavishly chained to stereo.

Consequently you can expect some faffing around with your AV receiver if you plan on employing the recorder in a home cinema system. Once up and running, though, it's a solid enough multi-channel sound experience.

Verdict

With Sky offering the biggest choice of HD TV channels in the UK, it makes sense to bolster the recording capacity of its flagship PVR, the Sky+ HD 2TB.

If you're a Sky subscriber who has lived under the cloud of single digit space warnings, this box can't arrive at a better time. Couple this with enhanced on-demand offerings (which still has some way to go, it must be said) and you have probably the most coveted timeshifter in town.

We liked

The Sky+ HD 2TB's cavernous hard drive is a boon for HD TV enthusiasts, and picture quality is excellent. The system is simplicity itself to use, and the Sky+ app makes searching even easier. Pushed On Demand Spotlight content keeps things fresh.

It's been a long time coming but Sky has finally included Wi-Fi inside the box, allowing you to connect to your home network without the need for a cable or additional wireless adapter.

We disliked

On Demand Pull services appear to be a work in progress, though, and there's still no 5.1 audio over HDMI.

Final verdict

It should be noted, though, that this 2TB goliath is more evolution than revolution. There's no change to the number of tuners onboard (hands up if you hanker after four) and networking functionality remains conspicuous by its absence.

Given the rapidly changing nature of Freeview+ HD PVRs, and the development of Freesat Freetime, the Sky feature set is beginning to look a tad conservative in comparison.

But the real beauty of the Sky+ HD 2TB box comes in using the thing. The result is peerless premium TV. For HD television addicts this is an upgrade worth lusting after.

The most tempting Sky+HD proposition yet, this generously equipped PVR is a panacea for both busy family users and TV enthusiasts alike. A must have upgrade for the Sky faithful.

Sky PG Choice Sky+ HD EPG TV PVR awardrecommended tvcarousel-en-gb avcarousel-en-gb
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