Thursday, August 27, 2009

DVR in India

For the uninitiated DVR stands for Digital Video Recorder.In its latest avatar it is being provided by the Cable/DTH operators with some restrictions and features.These DVR's have the Set Top Box integrated in them or rather STB has DVR features.The restriction is that you can't copy stuff from the DVR Hard Disk and take it out of the box or copy it onto a DVD.This is due to copyright rules.

Though a lot of hype was created regarding the launching of DVR's in India,only Tata Sky has a viable option in the form of the TataSky+ box. The hardware is very different from the Tata Sky(ordinary) box.This is much bigger in size as it has to house the 160 GB Hard Disk within it.It has many other ports also like a Ethernet port,s-video port,two cable inputs etc.There is also a USB port.The DVR can record upto 45 hours of content.The DVR uses MPEG4 for compression and storage.The intriguing point is that to store 45 hours of content with the best quality won''t take more than 50GB,so where is the rest 110GB being used?.I checked with the Sky+ box being used in the UK.They have an additional service in which the most popular programs are downloaded automatically without the DVR's owners concent.This programs can be viewed latter.To used this service the HDD is partitioned into two parts,hald of the HD is used for this service and the other half for regular recording.It seems Tata Sky+ has also partitioned so that the HD can be used for this service in the future.I fell this is a complete waste of resource as the half the HDD is unused until such time when the service is deployed.In the meantime the whole HDD could have been used for regular recording upto 90 hours.Partitioning the harddrive could have been done latter when the service was being deployed through a firmware upgrade,which anyway happens online.Of course there might be technical issues which might make this impossible.But,I guess Tata Sky should give it a try,if it is only a matter of firmware modification.
There is also a Ethernet point which seems to be used for sending requests from the DVR or rather for two way connectivity.Overall the box looks future compatible.Only thing is that it is not HD compliant.So,when HD services are rolled out by Tata,then the Box can't be used for HD.
Overall it is very userfriendly.Even my mom could learn the usage in a day's time.Recording of a complete series is a killer feature.One major problem I faced while using the recording feature is that it has done incomplete recording of some programmes.This I found out latter is not a problem with the box but with the TV Channels.Sometimes,there is a mismatch between the program tag and the program running.The DVR uses the tag while recording,so the incomplete recording.
Initially they had priced the DVR at Rs 9999.I had fet it was bit too costly.The they came up with a scheme with 9999 which includes one year subscription of a package which normally costs(275 p.m).So for the coutomer the effective price dropped to 6K something.I guess they have got the pricing right.

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