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Sky HDTV receivers: Software success story

Consumer reports suggest that Sky's recent software upgrade has put an end to early HD receiver teething problems

New technology is often blighted by teething problems, as early adopters of Sky's HDTV service will confirm -- ever since Sky's high-definition broadcasts launched earlier this year, its HD receiver boxes have been plagued by complaints from disgruntled consumers.

Thanks to a recent firmware upgrade, however, subscribers have been reporting that these problems with bugs and instability could be a thing of the past.

To check if your Sky HD box has been upgraded with the new software, enter the Services Menu, select System Set Up then System Details. The new model number should now read 607 120.

Sky claims this new software has improved several performance issues, promising a better relationship with your set-top box. This includes a faster electronic programme guide (EPG), more responsive fast forward and rewind controls (especially using 30x speed), and improved overall stability with fewer freezes and crashes.

Early reports of Sky's boxes also highlighted compatibility issues with JVC LCD TV models, which caused picture distortion while changing channels or aspect ratios. Sky says it has worked closely with JVC and claims this issue has now been overcome.

The software upgrade is also said to enhance HDMI connection compatibility. Customers were complaining that TV aspect ratios were not being applied when using a fixed 720p or 1080i output from boxes via HDMI. Sky has strangely deemed this expected behaviour when using a fixed 720p or 1080i output -- but the upgrade means that performance is now more consistent across different makes and models of TV.

Sky may be getting there but early consumers are entitled to feel aggrieved having paid good money for a product that seems to have been forced onto the market before it was ready. This has led initial enthusiasts to endure a series of upgrades before enjoying the advantages claimed by early advertising.