The UK is fast becoming a nation of hi-definition addicts. Be it via Sky, Virgin Media or Freeview, it seems we just can't get enough of HD TV. Statistically, there's a good chance that you, dear reader, are already hooked. Get used to it. There's no going back. Once you've succumbed to HD's crystal clarity, it's difficult (nay impossible) to watch regular blur-o-vision again. The good news is you probably won't have to if you subscribe to Sky. The pioneering satcaster is currently transmitting 46 channels of sweet eye candy, the latest being Good Food HD, Living HD and Comedy Central HD. So there's more than enough to keep you engrossed. This is both a blessing and a curse.
The fact is hi-def TV eats up hard drive space quicker than Hurley empties buckets from Mr Cluck's Chicken Shack. This means the regular box is bound to be running on empty after just a few series links and film recordings. With no legitimate way of archiving content off the box, your 1080i addiction is likely to suffer. The only sensible option is a swift upgrade to the broadcaster's premium personal video recorder -- the Sky+HD 1TB.
Take care, the hi-res EPG is a spoiler trap
Sky's 1TB recorder doesn't just offer a space boost. It's an entirely new piece of hardware, smaller, faster and slicker than the original. The matte black cosmetics of the first-generation box have given way to a smart steel-grey theme, and the iconic remote control has had a paint job to match.
Those migrating all the way from a standard-definition Sky+ box will be struck by the drastically different interface. When initially rolled out, this interface divided opinion. The simplicity of the original low-res listings has been replaced by a multi-functional, hi-res tabbed interface.
Navigating the various tabs is fast and responsive. It may take some time to scroll through recordings, as newer stuff is placed last not first (and there's no 'over the top' shortcut), but at least the interface isn't sluggish.
A live, Mini TV window in the top-right restricts the space available to show listings, but it does mean you can browse programmes without losing touch with the channel you're watching. The downside of the Mini TV screen is that if you're recording a, it's very easy to stumble upon a spoiler. Bizarrely, you can remove the screen from the grid, but the audio carries on regardless -- so you'll probably still hear stuff you're trying to ignore.
Stand by for Sky Anytime+
Although generally referred to as a 1TB set-top box, there's actually a 1.5TB hard drive beneath the hood. 500GB have been partitioned off for use by Sky Anytime, Sky's push content service. Anytime will shortly be joined by Sky's new video-on-demand (VOD) service, Sky Anytime+. Available (at least initially) to Sky broadband customers only, Anytime+ will use the hitherto dormant Ethernet jack on the back of the box to give free access to thousands of hours of programmes and movies.