Channels as you like them

Joel Rai        Print Edition: July 2012

Government policy has moved the unregulated cable television business from the grey area to one where everything is in black and white-except, of course, the images. Come June 30, 2012 and households will have to have their home entertainment streaming in via the set-top box. The local cable operators can no longer just wire up your TV with a strand from the spider's web on the roof. The programmes have to be mandatorily routed through a set-top box. Quality of both video and audio on cable TV will improve with digitisation, but it still will not meet the standards set by hi-def programming provided by channels on direct-to-home services.

So should you choose to ignore the cablewallah and opt instead for DTH, here is distilled information on which company offers what. Read carefully and decide. And while you are at it, you might want to learn that "true HD" is programming that is created in Full HD 1080P resolution (broadcast usually in 1080i). In contrast, many purported "HD" channels provide fare upscaled from standard definition and, therefore, are poorer in both image and sound qualities than true HD.

SUN DIRECT
TOTAL CHANNELS PROVIDED: 178
COST OF BASIC PACK: Rs 560 for World Pack for 3 months, Rs 1,990 for 5 months in southern states.
TRUE HD CHANNELS: 9
DVR: Not offered yet
COST OF HD STB: Rs 6,000
MOBILE AND INTERNET READY: No
OTHERS: Sun Direct was among the first to offer HD programming. In addition to the true HD channels, it also broadcasts some regional channels in HD.

VIDEOCON d2h
TOTAL CHANNELS PROVIDED: 366
COST OF BASIC PACK: Rs 160 + tax in North (Super Gold Pack), Rs 134 + tax in South (South Silver Pack)
TRUE HD CHANNELS: 19
DVR: Yes, 160 GB, 200 hours of recording (estimated).
COST OF HD DVR: Rs 4,490
COST OF HD STB: RS 1,890
MOBILE AND INTERNET READY: No
OTHERS: Offering among the most economic options, Videocon d2h also has the most number of true HD channels. It was also the first to come up with a DVR with 3D recording capability.

DISHTV
TOTAL CHANNELS PROVIDED: 280
COST OF BASIC PACK: Rs 385 (HD World Pack), Rs 560 (HD Royal Pack)
TRUE HD CHANNELS: 6
DVR: Yes
COST OF HD DVR: Rs 2,915
MOBILE AND INTERNET READY: Yes
OTHERS: Among the first to launch DTH services in India, it provides an enviable number of channels and has a special service in which its channels can be accessed in a car. People, however, have complained about its lackadaisical customer service.

TATASKY
TOTAL CHANNELS PROVIDED: 200+
COST OF BASIC PACK: Rs 180 (Dhamal Mixpack); Rs 155 in South (South Sports)
TRUE HD CHANNELS: 9
DVR: Yes, 500 GB capacity, 625 hours of recording (estimated).
COST OF HD DVR: Rs 5,940
COST OF HD STB: Rs 2,840
MOBILE AND INTERNET READY: Yes
OTHERS: Tatasky is reputed to have the best customer service among DTH companies. Of late, however, perhaps due to the growth of its subscriber base, its customer service is not as efficient as it used to be.

AIRTEL DIGITAL
CHANNELS PROVIDED: 236
COST OF BASIC PACK: Rs 158+ taxes in North (Value Sports), Rs 129 + taxes in South (South Super Value)
TRUE HD CHANNELS: 14
DVR: Yes, 350 GB capacity, 550 hours of recording (estimated).
COST OF HD DVR: Rs 5,990
COST OF HD STB: Rs 2,890
MOBILE AND INTERNET READY: Yes
OTHERS: Good customer care service. Also offers in-car access.

RELIANCE DIGITAL
CHANNELS PROVIDED: 249
COST OF BASIC PACK: Rs 202 in North and South (Silver Value Pack)
TRUE HD CHANNELS: 8
DVR: Yes, 160 GB, 200 hours of recording (estimated).
COST OF HD DVR: Rs 4,990
COST OF HD STB: Rs 2,890
MOBILE AND INTERNET READY: No
OTHERS: In our experience, our calls to customer care were not attended to.

Note: The number of channel offered by a company and the packages and prices are subject to change.

Disclaimer: This article was filed before the digitisation deadline was
deferred by four months to 31st October 2012.

Courtesy:Gadgets and Gizmos

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