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MONEY TODAY presents a 10-minute guide to the future of entertainment coming soon right at the tip of your thumb.

By Tanmoy Neog | Print Edition: November 30, 2006

PRICE

Cable: Rs 200-500 for laying the cables. Monthly charges between Rs 75 and Rs 350.

Digital cable: For a set top box (STB), a refundable deposit of Rs 999 and a monthly rent of Rs 30, or a refundable deposit of Rs 250 and rental of Rs 45. Plus Rs 77 for 30 free-to-air channels and Rs 5 per paid channel.

DTH: Dish TV offers a package of 125 channels with hardware and installation cost of Rs 2,690. You also pay Rs 440 for a threemonth channel subscription, after which you pay between Rs 180 and Rs 300 a month depending on the number of channels you take. Tata Sky offers 110 channels at hardware and installation charges of Rs 3,999. After three months, subscription is Rs 200 a month.

PICTURE & SOUND QUALITY

Cable: Reception quality of channels in the higher or lower bands of a particular frequency is distorted as analogue signals are difficult to receive in these bands.

Digital cable: MPEG quality picture with stereo sound, but signals are often obstructed during transmission through cable.

DTH: Quality is far better as satellite signals are not obstructed by an intermediary agent like cable. However, if bandwidth is compressed to accommodate more channels quality could suffer.

FOR MULTI TV HOMES

Cable: Most operators don’t charge extra monthly fee for a second connection in a house, but you pay for the cable.

Digital cable: Different STBs for different TV sets if different channels are to be viewed on each. 50% discount on channel subscription charges for those buying two STBs.

DTH: Each TV set needs a box. A mini dish can support four STBs.Tata Sky has an option for apartment complexes where one dish can be linked to several STBs. It also provides 50% discount on installation charges for the second box. Dish TV offers a 50% discount on subscription with more than two STBs.

RECORDING

Cable: No recording facility.

Digital cable: An expensive version of the STB called personal video recorder (PVR) is available to record from television.

DTH: Dish TV offers 80 GB digital video recorder for Rs 16,000 which could be used to pause live programmes in addition to downloading movies and games. It can be connected to a digital camera or PC.The feature is in trial mode.Tata Sky will also introduce recorders.

SPECIAL ATTRACTIONS

Navigation guides: Search and scanning options appear at the bottom of the screen in DTH and digital cable. Option to find out what's on other channels without switching off your present channel. Parental locks to restrict adult content.

Internet: While digital cable allows you to surf the Net on your TV/PC with a broadband connection, no such fa cility is currently available in DTH. It is technically feasible and may happen soon. Regular cable is limited in this regard with operators in certain areas offering broadband.

News and sports: DTH offers “Picture in Picture” option which enables multiple news channel viewing. Sports viewing gets a makeover in both DTH and digital cable with player statistics, five-language commentary, multiple-camera angles and highlights on demand.

Movies on demand, music and games: Digital cable offers exclusive movie channels (CCC for Hathway and Siti Cinema for Sitcable) and an interactive music jukebox (iTV allows consumers to select their choice of music videos through a dial-in process). DTH operators offer movies for a fee. Games are free and updated on a monthly basis. Tata Sky offers animated educational programming for children.

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