Sky HD certainly outguns Freesat in terms of the number of channels and the range of HD programming that’s on offer. And, since Sky announced its recent price cuts, the hardware that you need to buy now costs about the same as that for Freesat. From 1 July, Sky is cutting the price of its Sky+ HD set-top box to £150, down from a thumping £300, along with an installation fee of £30 for new customers or £60 for existing Sky subscribers — which doesn’t strike us as a particularly good way of rewarding loyal customers.
Sky’s Sky+ HD: more HD content than its rivals offer
And, of course, you also have to pay quite a large monthly subscription fee for the HD service. In addition to your existing Sky subscription, you also need to pay an extra £10 per month in order to get the HD versions of those channels. This means, for instance, that you’ll need to subscribe to the Sky Sports channels and then pay an extra £10 per month on top of the standard subscription fee in order to receive the single Sky Sports HD channel. Sky subscriptions start at about £21 per month for a basic set of channels, but if you want the movie or sports channels you’ll have to pay £38–45 per month, depending on the package you choose. Add on another £10 a month for the HD subscription and you’re looking at £48–55 per month to watch HD television. That might seem expensive, but if you’re already paying for the sports and movie channels then another £10 per month may not seem too much to upgrade to the HD service.
Blood’n’guts in hi-def: Sky offers HD new releases
Best of the Rest
Before we move on, there’s one other Sky option that we need to mention. Sky has its own version of Freesat, which it calls “Freesat from Sky”. This is very similar to the BBC/ITV Freesat service, as it provides you with a wide range of free channels for a one-off fee of £150 for the set-top box and satellite dish. However, Freesat From Sky doesn’t offer any HD channels, and it’s really just intended to tempt people away from the BBC/ITV Freesat so that they can try and flog you some of Sky’s more expensive subscription services.
BBC HD FTA
Sayeth the article: "However, Freesat From Sky doesn’t offer any HD channels".
Fail. BBC HD is broadcast FTA, or in the clear, and can be picked up by any compatible HD receiver, including a Sky HD box with either a Freesat by Sky card, or no card at all.
"With the exception of the BBC's Living Planet (I think it was that series) which purported to be 1080i, not one of the Blu-Ray discs in my local HMV had any resolution or encoding info on the packaging whatsoever."
Utter rubbish. I've picked up the first 10 from my tv stand, titles including Superman, Blood Diamond, Pirates of the Caribbean and Casino Royale (all titles I'm sure you'll find in HMV) and all bar one of them has a specifications table on the back, and in it clearly states "Video : 1080p High Definition".
The only film without this box was "the Departed" and it has a gold logo saying "Full HD 1080" clearly stamped on the back of the case.
With the exception of the BBC's Living Planet (I think it was that series) which purported to be 1080i, not one of the Blu-Ray discs in my local HMV had any resolution or encoding info on the packaging whatsoever.
Don't mind the AC
Just about every Blu-ray disc is in full 1080p (as is HD-DVD). In fact the few that aren't are 1080i, not 720p. As stated on the boxes.
The previous AC claimed that HD movie downloads for the 360 "won't happen in the UK". Which is rather odd, since they DID happen last year. Not that I've bothered with it, since I have a HD-DVD player, and the vast majority of the 360's HD film selection were also released on the format.
"Mark" asked "why not use the new compression algorithm and create a HD movie that fits on ONE DVD?" - to which the answer is "because while a 720p film would fit if you dial down the bitrate enough, Blu-ray and HD-DVD already used those new compression algorithms and yet decided that 20+Gb for the video alone was necessary to give the best quality at 1080p". Squeezing a whole HD film onto a single DVD is the HD equivalent of VideoCD when it comes to being covered in a swathe of artifacts and mess.
What's the point?
As people keep subtely pointing towards, there is no such thing as HD.
If you buy a 1080 set, any 720 "HD" (ie most) will be upscaled by a non-integer factor. If you get a 720 set, hopefully any 1080 content will be downscaled... or will it just not be watchable?
With SD you get to watch the native resolution. With HD you don't. So we've introduced extra resolution in order to *decrease* picture quality. Until there's a shared common standard between TVs and media players, HD will remain a well-executed con.
(Of course, so was DVD. The strategy of employing point-sampling for video encoding produced "sharp images" (stills) but crap movement due to strobing. I'm I being cynical in thinking that this may just have been done to introduce a flaw that they could later sell us the solution to...?)