HDTV Lounge

Sky HD Review

Sky+ HD is the only real option currently available in the U.K to deliver HD programming, to get the very best from your HDTV. Sky HD is also the largest HD provider in Europe, and is continuing to add new HD channels all the time. HD quality simply looks amazing, with details, color and depth looking so much more true to life and engaging.

Sky HD Offer

The Sky HD service will provide you with the same features and functions of a Sky+ box and subscription, meaning that you can pause, rewind live TV, while also recording up to two channels at one time, while playing back a previously recorded program.

Sky TV currently offers hundreds of standard channels along with 16 HD channels currently offering over 5,000 hours of HD content a month. HD Channels include, BBC HD, Channel 4 HD, Sky One HD, five HD Movie channels, three HD Sports channels, Discovery HD, National Geographic Channel HD and others. Sky are currently planning launching more HD channels.

Sky HD Box

I will kick off this Sky HD review with an overview of the Sky HD box. The box it’s self is roughly the same size as a standard VCR, and a little bigger than the new Sky+ boxes. As you can see, the box is of a mat black finish, and looks very sleek, and should go very well with todays modern HDTVs. On the front of the HD box is a cool blue circular light, which lights to show playback, pause and other functions.

Inside the Sky+ HD box is a huge 300Gb hard disk, 160Gb which can be used for personal recording, and the rest is used for Sky Anytime, which is a bonus service offering on-demand viewing of a top mix of the current weeks programmes.

Sky HD Box Front

Sky HD Box Side

The important part of the Sky HD box is the back. As you can see from the photo below, there are number of connections available, only some of which will be used. On the very left are the two satellite feed inputs, these will need to be connected along with the power and telephone line.

Now for the important connections. There are a number of video and audio outputs, you will want to make sure you are using the correct outputs to receive the best quality, and to ensure you are providing your HDTV with a true HD signal.

Outputs include: HDMI, Component, Scart x2, S-Video, standard audio out, digital optical audio out, and also SATA, USB and Ethernet connections, which are currently not enabled, but might be in later sky box updates.

Set Up

Optimal setup: Your HDTV will more than likely have an HDMI input, if so you will want to make use of that. The HDMI is a digital video and audio output which will provide your HDTV with the very best (HD) quality. (If your HDTV does not have a HDMI input, but has a DVI input, you should use a HDMI -> DVI adapter) If you have no HDMI or DVI, then use the component outputs. This is not digital but will provide a HD quality output to your HDTV. You will want to avoid the scart and s-video outputs, as these can not output an HD signal.

If you have a dedicated home theater sound system, you can use the optical audio output on the box, and set it to output a high quality Dolby 5.1 digital surround sound.

Under the “Picture Settings” menu, you can select your “HD output resolution” the default is “Automatic”. As well as “Automatic” you can select 576, 720P, or 1080i. The number represents the number of lines of pixels on the screen, and the “i” in 1080i stands for interlaced. However, I believe it best to set it to 1080i for the best quality, as this is the resolution and format (H.264/MPEG-4 AVC) that Sky HD broadcasts it’s HD channels in. No current providers broadcast in full 1080p as it would use too much bandwidth.

Sky HD Box Back

Click on the images for full size.

Functionality

Similar to the Sky+ box, the Sky HD box is a PVR (Personal video recorder) with two tuners, allowing you to receive two sky channels at one time, which enables you to both watch and record two separate channels / programs at once, or even record two channels, and playback a previously recorded programme. The 160Gb of storage space allows you to record roughly 80 hours of standard definition, or 30 hours of high definition programmes for playback whenever you want.

As well as recording, you can also pause and rewind live TV, which is great if you need to answer the phone, door etc, or even rewind back in case you missed something. The EPG (electronic programme guide) displays all the channel and programme information, there is also a dedicated section for all the HD channels for easy access.

Sky HD Offer

Sky HD Quality

Now for the interesting part, the HD quality, just how good is it? To put it simply, very good indeed! I have my Sky HD box set upto my 40-inch Sony KDL-40W3000 (Full HD 1080p) HDTV via HDMI, with the Sky HD box set to output at 1080i. As my HDTV is 1080p it will de-interlace the signal, which it does very well.

To do a “real” demonstration, I have taken the best sample images from Sky+ HD on my HDTV with a digital Camera (Canon EOS400D), so you can see exactly how Sky HD look when viewed on a HDTV.

I very much feel that the photos demonstrate very well the difference between a SD (standard definition) and a HD programme, and the viewing benefits the HD brings. Below are some photos from one of my favorite shows “Lost” from Sky One HD, and also from Discovery HD.

The HD photos show an amazing amount of detail, not normally visible in a SD broadcast, and the colors and contrast are a lot more vivid. Take a look at the shot of Jack, where you can see fine details on his skin and hair.

Click the images for full size.

Lost Jack HD

Lost Juliet HD

National Geographic HD

Sky HD Vs SD Quality

The supreme quality of the HD signal is even more noticeable when compared the the standard quality signal. I recorded the same episode of Lost from both “Sky One”, and “Sky One HD” simultaneously so I could compare HD to SD directly, on the same HDTV over the same HDMI connection. The top image below shows the HD recording, and the lower, the SD signal. You will notice that the SD image almost appears blurry, which much less detail than the HD one.

Desmond HD

HD Above, SD Below.

Desmond SD

To further demonstrate the true undeniable difference in quality, I have joined together (as best I can) the same frame from both the HD and SD recording onto one image so you can easily compare the difference in quality, and the benefits HD brings.

I don’t need to tell you, but it’s SD on the left, and HD on the right. If you view the full size image you will notice how much detail is lost in the SD (standard definition) side of the image. Definition and fine colours in the hair, details of the stubble and skin texture. The colours are also a lot more natural, and vibrant on the HD side. To view the full size comparison, click on the image, or to view the original HD image, click here.

Lost HD SD comparison

Sky HD Test Card

As a last bonus, I thought I would throw a photo of the Sky HD Test card which features Myleene Klass, who talks through users how to set up their HDTV, Sky HD and sound systems optimally. The static test card allows you to adjust the sharpness, brightness, contrast, lip sync and colour setup to get the best results. The static test card also shows us the supreme and pixel perfect output the Sky HD box has. Below is a shot of the test card, and an extreme closeup of the “frequency” lines (left, center of the test card) is shown here, showing that the output is perfect to the very last pixel.

Sky+ HD Test Card

If you own a HDTV and want to use it for what it was designed for, I would highly recommend signing up for Sky+ HD, you will never look at normal TV in the same way!

Click here to sign up, upgrade, or for more information.

Sky HD Offer

94 comments
94 Comments so far
  1. Mike Bowen March 29th, 2008 8:16 pm

    Excellent Review. I have been anti-sky for so long, but really getting into HD in a big way. Whether Sky HD is worth the money, is another story, but after reading your review, I am definitely going to look into it.

    I am very impressed with your website in general. The attention to detail is incredible.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  2. Andrew Reid April 6th, 2008 8:16 am

    Great review.

    I particulary like your SD/HD comparison picture – it really shows the difference between the SD and HD broadcasts. Thanks.

    One thing I am curious about is if the Sky HD box provides a better quality SD image than a Sky+ box due to HDMI.

    Thanks

    Andrew

  3. majk April 21st, 2008 8:58 am

    I have been using my Sky hd for 2 weeks now.

    Great picture, sound and user friendly

    I can recommend it!

    Cheers

    Majk

  4. Simon May 12th, 2008 4:42 am

    Do you know of any plans to broadcast in full 1080p?

    Simon.

  5. Andy June 11th, 2008 11:00 am

    I have just received Sky Hd, Although picture is very good
    it is no better on hd channels compared to non hd channels. I have done all checks with sky and it is set up correctly , but if you are watching say football on bbc hd but then go to bbc1 normal channel there is no difference in picture.
    Any ideas ?
    Thanks.
    Andy

  6. HDTV Lounge Admin June 12th, 2008 6:53 pm

    Mike and Andrew, many thanks for your comments, i’m very glad to hear that you like the review, and my site.

    I believe that the SD channels via Sky HD would be somewhat better than that from a standard Sky box, yes. Digital HDMI connection is far superior to the analog Scart connection, and the Sky HD box would upscale / upconvert all to the HD resolution.

    Simon:, I very much doubt so. I know of no HD broadcasts in the world who broadcast in 1080p, as it uses too much bandwidth. The 1080i quality is extremely good.

    Andy: That sounds very strange. You should defiantly be able to tell the difference in picture quality. Can you confirm that you have a “HD Ready” HDTV with an HDMI port connecting to the Sky HD box?. Make sure no other video connections are connected from the HD box (such as scart). I would also recommend setting the HD output resolution to “1080i”.

  7. Andy June 16th, 2008 4:53 am

    Yes TV is HD ready and HD output set to 1080i. No other connections other than HDMI cable. Sky engineer came yesterday and says picture is HD. He thought the picture was slightly clearer than non HD channel, but to be honest I could not really tell a difference and nor could people we had round. His comment was that our TV picture in non HD was very good and might tell difference more with a 50″ screen (ours is 32″)I must say I was expecting a lot more from it, listening to the hype, perhaps just expecting to much. Thanks for your reply.

  8. HDTV Lounge Admin June 16th, 2008 8:48 am

    What brand is your HDTV?, many include SD (non-HD) image enhancing engines such as Sony’s Bravia Engine, which would upscale an make the image look as best as possible.

    Even on a 32-inch (720/1080i, I assume), looking upclose to it you should at least see sharper images and less / no image compression & blocking, which are typically very visible on SD channels, colours should be improved also.

    You could go through your HDTV settings and try to enable (Full pixel mapping) so the image is not stretched at all, and maybe disable image enhancing features such as noise reduction and sharpening etc, to get you the pure HD image with no processing.

    This is how I run mine, full direct pixel mapping (pixel perfect) and noise reduction etc off, which gives a better more pure image.

  9. Andy June 16th, 2008 9:17 am

    It’s a Samsung LE32R74BD. Thanks for your help, I will have a play tonight.

  10. deano June 30th, 2008 7:50 am

    CAN SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME i dont want to waiste more money and time,

    i bought a panasonic top tv and it won awards and great plasma tv.
    my problem is most normal sd channels apart from bbc1 are blurred and blotchy and alot of my favourite channels like news CNN and setanta sports are not HD. and alot more.
    now my old TV set i dont have a problem with this it shows exellent, and was told it would show better on a old set as sd is made for old tv’s which i found annoying..
    NOW MY QUESTION is if i buy a HD box will it upgrade even the non HD channels so i can enjoy viewing like i do on my old set without any blotchy or blurred effects ?? my biggest example is news channels CNN and setanta sports when i watch newscasters face is all blurred the hair and the face on my HD tv, but on my old set its perfect i got my refund for my tv as i was in my 7 days which was over 1500 pounds.but i really miss the lovely plasma as i know it has alot of potential can someone be honest. and help me.. im willing to buy another plasma or lcd if an HD box will improve the non HD channels as most channels are NON HD
    thank you ladies and gentlemen

  11. HDTV Lounge Admin June 30th, 2008 11:01 am

    deano,

    The answer is Yes. A Sky HD box will make standard channels look better on your HDTV than the standard Sky Box, and you will also get the very impressive HD channels.

    There are two reasons why. The Sky HD box upconverts / upscales the SD (standard) channels to HD resolution to make them look as good as possible, and then uses the digital HDMI connection to send the data to your HDTV, rather than using the old analog scart connection. This improved quality shows better colours and sharper images optimised for use on an HDTV.

    The cheapest and best way to upgrade or join is via this link: http://www.hdtvlounge.net/link.php?go=1

  12. David July 1st, 2008 1:19 pm

    What channel is the sky hd test card on?

  13. Alison July 9th, 2008 6:56 am

    Have ordered Sky+ HD just waiting for set up..Have always had a bad reception with ariel sometimes losing channels completley for no reason but will having sky box eliminate this prob or will i need to upgrade the ariel.. also why do they need a telephone line and as mine is the other side of the house will the engineer connect to a upstairs bt line and will he be prepared to drill a hole or two and say run it down the cavity alongside the ariel this would be a better option to me!! confused and hoping for reply!

  14. HDTV Lounge Admin July 9th, 2008 8:43 am

    Alison, you should receive a perfect signal. As all Sky services use a small digital satellite dish rather than an ariel.

    Don’t worry as they Sky installer will sort everything out regarding the telephone line. It is needed for some functions to work correctly.

  15. Alison July 9th, 2008 2:16 pm

    Thankyou for the reply cant wait now to get set up! thanks for quick reply!!

  16. Irishman July 21st, 2008 7:38 am

    Just ordered my sky HD box, bought a Lexsor HD ready 32″ tv, but i’m slightly concerned that the picture wont be that great!! Am i gonna have to go out and buy myself a new tv now?!
    Couldnt be more excited about HD, its coming on Friday!! I’ll let you know how the pic is!!

  17. HDTV Lounge Admin July 21st, 2008 3:54 pm

    Irishman, I don’t know much about Lexsor HDTVs or their quality. But if it has the HD ready sticker and a HDMI input, you should be fine.

    I’m glad your excited, hope all goes well.

  18. Dan Evans August 4th, 2008 12:19 pm

    Hi, when the Sky engineer came and fitted our new system, he just ran it from the old Sky+ cables. (Two think cables run side by side).

    Our picture is much better on the HD channels, but should he have run a HTMI cable to the box? Or is the old Sky+ cable htmi? The HD box is connected to our 50″ Plasma with HTMI but that seems fairly pointless if the input is some old fashioned type of cable…. sorry to ramble any advice gratefully received.

  19. HDTV Lounge Admin August 5th, 2008 6:32 am

    Hi Dan, the setup sounds correct. The Sky / cable input to the Sky+ HD box is the same as the other boxes, so therefor uses the same dish and cable inputs.

    Your setup is correct, as long as your plasma is connected to the Sky HD box via the HDMI cable.

  20. Dan Evans August 10th, 2008 6:03 am

    Many thanks for the reply. That has put my mind at rest. I obviously want the best picture possible. After all, we pay Sky £120 a year for the privilege!

  21. Dave Dawdle September 14th, 2008 2:05 pm

    I have read elsewhere that the HDMI cable provided by SKY is not of a particularly high quality. If this so, what do you recommend in its place please?

  22. HDTV Lounge Admin September 14th, 2008 6:09 pm

    Dave, there have been a number of general HDMI quality questions since the cables’ release.

    You can pick up a HDMI cable for somewhere from £3 to £60 or more, but there has been no evidence that the £60+ cable is any better.

    Older cables such as s-video, scart are analog cables, and there IS a difference in quality of picture from these cables depending on the cable quality.

    HDMI is a purely digital cable, sending 0 and 1′s. With digital you either get the perfect signal or none at all. (as long as you don’t see any pixels jumping)

    Some disagree, but most (even a/v experts) believe there is no difference. I use the standard Sky+ HD HDMI cable, and have tested a more expensive brand and noticed no difference.

    When I buy HDMI cables I tend to aim to spend between £5 and £20 max. I Hope this helps.

  23. Dave Dawdle September 15th, 2008 5:37 am

    Thank you – that eases my mind. I have a brand new Toshiba 32″ Regza TV connected to my SKY+HD box and I cannot really detect a huge amount of difference between the SD and HD pictures – maybe it’s my age!! I thought a different cable might enhance the HD experience.

  24. Allan Dawes September 21st, 2008 4:23 am

    I see that sky also have the same problem as Vergin media, in that you cannot export media to a PC. This is of no suprise as I dare say it’s to restrict people from sharing Skys content on the Internet. Kind of makes you wonder why they bother with the connections at all.

    I see the user space on the HDD is nothing special – 160GB is standard fare for all PVR’s of the last 5 years. The cost of HDD’s these days kind of makes the 160 and 300GB drives freebies. I just hope the drive can be upgraded to a much larger drive without too much fuss.

    Still, having just signed up the Sky package, I look forward to seeing some HD content – Something that Viergin Media has failed to deliver, dispite having there V+BoxHD.

  25. Andy Cresswell September 24th, 2008 8:51 am

    I have a panasonic TH42PX700B TV with sky+. Thinking of upgrading to Sky HD. One thing I’ve noticed when watching football is that when the camera pans quickly the players can get blurry, which can make you feel dizzy. Will upgrading to HD help this problem.

  26. HDTV Lounge Admin September 29th, 2008 10:35 am

    Allan, It is possible to upgrade the HDD to a larger capacity, some people have put in a 1000GB drive. But it is of course unofficial and not supported by Sky.

    Andy, the digital quality and higher resolution would certainly improve this blurriness to some degree. Some HDTVs handle motion blur better than others, but I’m sure it would be less of a problem with the HD signal.

  27. Kinny October 5th, 2008 6:25 pm

    After seeing the offers to upgrade to Sky+HD until Oct. 31. and the box only cost £ 75, I have decided to take the offer…Just got to convince the wife ;-)
    After searching and reading a lot of reviews on the web, yours is in my opinion the best one out there! God job.
    But in spite of all the information, I still have plenty of questions:
    The offer is to “exchange” my box for a Sky+HD or I can pay another £10 pcm on top of the HD subscription fee of £10 pcm for multiroom.
    If I don’t want multiroom, could I still keep my current box and pay the one-off £20 for a freeview card and use the box in the kid’s room? Or is a dual LNB required to use a second box in the house? What about using the “old” box in my touring caravan with a freeview card?
    After viewing the pictures you took of the in- and output plugs on the back I noticed that the only digital output is optical (no coax). The only problem is that my DENON DD/DTS 5.1 amp only has one coax and on optical input, and the fiber optic is used by my PS3 and the coax is used by my DVD player. Isn’t the digital audio also sent through the HDMI? My TV (40” Toshiba LCD 1080p) has one optical out. Could I feed the audio from the PS3 and Skx+HD box via HDMI into the TV and from the TV via fiber optic into the AMP? Or is a TOSLink switch the best solution?

    Too bad that the USB can’t be used for an external HDD…. The onboard 160GB might be a bit on the small side to keep all of those good HD shows like LOST next Febuary…

    Thanks,

    Kinny

  28. HDTV Lounge Admin October 8th, 2008 10:18 am

    Kinny, many thanks for your comments, I’m very glad you like my review.

    The £75 offer is for both new and existing / upgrading customers, so I assume you can keep your standard box as a multiroom package, or get the new Sky+ HD as a multiroom option. You should call Sky for confirmation.

    Most HDTVs have an audio out / pass through, so yes, you should be able to connect your HDMI devices to your HDTV and have it pass on the audio to your amp.

    Yeah it’s a big shame the USB port is not activated / supported. Someone did connect a USB HD via a Sata to USB adapter, but this disconnects the main HD in the box.

    Also, if you sign up via my link, you get the great £75 deal, and also £15 of Sky credit.

  29. Damian October 12th, 2008 9:42 am

    Hey, great review and now the box has come down in price I think I might get it. Just one question though, do you have to connect it to a phone line, and if yes can it be a Virgin phone line or does it have to be BT?

    Thanks

    Damian

  30. HDTV Lounge Admin October 12th, 2008 9:25 pm

    Hey Damian,

    Many thanks. Yeah the lower prices make it even more tempting. Sky request that it is connected to a phone line. This is used for ordering Box office movies etc.

    Mine is currently not connected to a phone line. It can also be any phone line, not just BT.

    Sign up via, http://www.hdtvlounge.net/link.php?go=1 online, for the £75 deal and also £15 Sky credit.

    Thanks

  31. edwards October 21st, 2008 3:24 pm

    I got my new HDTV (Toshiba 37inch) on saturday, but i was disapointed with the picture quailty on the sky+ box. I was so glad i oredered Sky HD before the HDTV arrived.

    I know for a fact, as soon as i get Sky HD (31/10/08) and its turned on i will be able to see the difference. Sky+ on a HDTV is just rubbish.

    I will post a reply when i get Sky HD, cant wait, counting the days.

  32. HDTV Lounge Admin October 21st, 2008 4:31 pm

    edwards, I hope you enjoy your new Sky+ HD as much as I do!

  33. Mike October 23rd, 2008 12:48 pm

    Nice review and very informative. I finally persuaded my wife to let me order Sky HD and I am moving my sky + box into the kitchen. (seems a shame to waste it as it will replace my standard box in there) I have a Panasonic TH50PZ70 1080p which should hopefully give me a nice picture at least as good as my Arcam FMJ 139 DVD player which is pretty good at upscaling standard DVD’s. I use a QED Silver Reference HDMI cable on my DVD player and I thought I would get one for SKY HD. I auditioned 4 or 5 HDMI leads before choosing the QED SR as I felt it gave the best picture quality between the arcam and the panasonic. Do you know of a certain brand that works better with a Panasonic PZ TV and sky HD or should I just pop into my local Hi-fi shop and ask to borrow a few to see. I am also getting a belkin surge protecter which also does telephone and TV. Do you know if the RF input on these devices are actually “transparent” or would they affect my Digital/analogue tuner picure adversely.
    Counting the days to SKY HD I feel like a big kid.

  34. HDTV Lounge Admin October 23rd, 2008 1:42 pm

    Mike, I’m glad you found my review useful, thanks.

    As you have a large 1080p HDTV, you will see a big increase in picture quality, higher than if you had a smaller set. The image quality should be better than the upscalled DVD.

    QED Silver Reference HDMI cable should do a fine job, you use can always try others if you wish. I don’t think the surge protector would effect the signal.

    You should only want to use the HDMI out from the Sky+ HD box.

    I hope you enjoy Sky HD.

  35. Mike October 23rd, 2008 1:56 pm

    Thanks for the help I planned on routing the Hdmi output from the sky HD box directly into the TV and not use the HDMI switching on my arcam AV amp.

    Many thnak again.
    Regards
    Mike

  36. Kevin January 7th, 2009 8:42 am

    Hi
    I recently bought Samsung LE40a686M LCD. I’m finding that the football is not of a great picture quality on Sky. I’m now tempted to move for Sky HD quicker that I expected purely to boast my sporting P.Q.

    I’m currently on standard definition sky box, not Sky+ as I’m in a block of flats and would not receive the full benefit.

    Is now a good time to buy? will my sports picture be sharper?

    Thanks

  37. HDTV Lounge Admin January 8th, 2009 1:04 pm

    Hi Kevin,

    Sports look great in HD. The Olympics was amazing to watch in HD, and football looks much improved, and much sharper.

    After watching football in HD for a while, and then changing to the standard definition channel, everything almost looks blurry and out of focus, compared to the HD version.

    Now is a great time to sign up, Sky is withdrawing the free £15 online signup credit soon, and are currently a running free broadband offer.

    Just signup online, using one of the links above or http://www.hdtvlounge.net/link.php?go=1, to get the best deal and £15 credit!

  38. Kevin January 9th, 2009 7:26 am

    For the £15 credit would they take my old box?
    Also I’m in a flat with only a single feed so I cant get full benefit of sky+. This is where I would not want to pay to have install when I could do it myself by just swapping boxes.

    I could prob make more than £15 by selling my old box.

    I’m currently on a 3 month deal for £30, full package inc sports and movies. I also get my sky talk and broadband free ever since I first signed up in December 2007.

    Also Sky out source when it comes to dealing with flats. A company in my local area would come out with new box etc.

    I’m thinking I could try and collect box from local company and swap boxes myself.

    Whats your view on HD in the near future? Do you see more and more HD channels becoming available?

    Sorry for all the questions

    Cheers

  39. HDTV Lounge Admin January 9th, 2009 3:06 pm

    You get the £15 special bonus for joining / upgrading online.

    I believe that you keep your box, as you paid for it.

    You need to get your Sky HD box from Sky direct, as you need the £10 HD subscription get the the HD channels, you won’t be able to get them other wise.

    I believe HD is looking great for the future. Over the last 6 months alone, their number of HD channel has doubled, with more upcoming all the time.

  40. Jimbo January 11th, 2009 8:15 am

    Hi. Can you tell me what the purpose of the USB2 connection is please and is there any benefit in conecting to pc.

    Thanks.

  41. HDTV Lounge Admin January 11th, 2009 4:37 pm

    Hi Jimbo. Currently the USB2 connection is disabled, as is the Ethernet port. They are there for future use. Hopefully some day.

  42. Kevin January 12th, 2009 7:21 am

    How does Sky HD compare with Blu Ray?

    What HDMI cable would you recommend? Standard one Sky supply any good?

    Cheers

  43. HDTV Lounge Admin January 12th, 2009 7:40 pm

    Technically, blu-ray is better as its 1080p, where as Sky+ HD is 1080i. But in reality it’s hard to tell the difference in quality in most situations. You have a very modern HDTV, so it will be able to de-interlace the 1080i to 1080p without any problems.

    As HDMI is digital, the signal quality of the cable is not effected as older analog cables were. The Sky HDMI cables seems fine to me.

  44. Steve January 13th, 2009 4:54 pm

    My dad has a Sky HD box, however when connected to a 40in Sony tv ( no more than a month old) then the TV does not see the Sky box via a HDMI cable. The TV recognises everything else that is connected via HDMI cables. Have you got any ideas as to what the problem is?

    Thanks,
    Steve

  45. HDTV Lounge Admin January 14th, 2009 5:46 am

    Hi Steve, that sounds strange. Have you tried a different HDMI cable, and different HDMI input port? If it’s still not working, maybe he has a faulty sky box? Maybe give Sky a ring.

  46. Kevin January 14th, 2009 9:04 am

    When do you think Sky might drop the monthly charge for HD?

    Do HD channels such as Sky 1 HD and Sky sports HD broadcast every single programme in HD or is it just certain programmes like football matches or Lost that you get the HD option?

    Cheers

  47. HDTV Lounge Admin January 15th, 2009 7:24 pm

    I have no idea Kevin. I assume they will at some point, just as they did with Sky+.

    I would say 90-95% of the content shown on channels such as Sky1 HD and Sky Sports HD are in HD. Although even SD content on HD channels look better than the SD channel, as they use a better image format and higher bitrate.

  48. davey399 January 15th, 2009 8:44 pm

    I have a samsung LE40A6868m 1080p tv with a sky+ box at the moment. football can seem really fuzzy through the satellite signal, especially when it shows lots of players in shot, in the distance. Can I receive somewhat slightly clearer picture by getting ‘better’ quality scart leads? sorry for the noob question. great site btw, you seem a real gent the way you answer the questions.

  49. HDTV Lounge Admin January 15th, 2009 9:02 pm

    @ davey399. Many thanks for the comments.

    As you mentioned it gets fuzzy when there are many players on the screen, I would say this macroblocking, which is caused from the image compression of the signal, as there is a lot of action / detail happening. A better scart cable can help, but only to a small degree, as this is related to the Sky broadcast.

    I’m not sure if you’re interested, but this is one aspect where Sky+ HD really helps, as it doesn’t suffer from this problem, as it uses a much better video codec and higher bitrates.

  50. Kevin January 16th, 2009 5:45 am

    Davey,

    U need to play with your settings to get a good imagine for football. I have the same TV and had problems at the start. Now it looks quite good even during Chelsea game midweek on ITV. I’m still going to invest in SKY HD to get the full benefit of my TV plus better football viewing. Try hdtvtest.co.uk/Samsung-LE40A656/Settings.htm
    and have a little play. Kev

  51. davey399 January 16th, 2009 7:24 am

    Thanks for your reply…

    I will try some newer scart leads, the ones I’m using are old and a cheaper version. might be worth a shot anyway.
    At the moment I really can’t justify the extra monthly £10 payment for sky HD, (we pay enough for all sky services at the moment) but am hoping that one day it will ‘free’ as such, similar to the way sky+ became free (apart from the cost of the box). thanks again.

  52. HDTV Lounge Admin January 19th, 2009 8:45 am

    It’s a great time to signup right now.

    £15 bonus for signing up online, free £50 M&S vouchers, and free Sky talk freetime & Free Sky broadband max for 3 months (Unlimited, 16mb).

  53. Kevin January 19th, 2009 1:36 pm

    Do you get the £15 + £50 M&S vouchers for upgrading??

    I’m not willing to pay £60 for some guy to “swap boxes over” two minute job.

    I’m going to phone up and get them to try and drop installation cost as its totally unfair.

  54. HDTV Lounge Admin January 19th, 2009 6:09 pm

    £15 credit: We will credit £15 to your account if you join Sky TV online or upgrade your existing Sky box online. Credit will be made to your Sky digital account within 60 days of your Sky TV viewing card being enabled.

    I think the £50 M&S is just for new customers :/

    Your first Sky+HD box costs just £99 online (otherwise £199). And I think you get the keep your existing box, as you’re “Adding a Sky+ HD Box”

    You get a much better deal online, and don’t have to deal with the call centers, so will be saving money there.

  55. Kevin January 22nd, 2009 9:14 am

    Reading some forums people have been told on the phone by sky retentions/customer service to wait a week or two before ordering HD as their is something big going to happen. Thats what they have been told by their sky bosses. Maybe a new offer? drop in price of box etc

    Have you heard anything similar?

    Going to wait until early Feb now.

  56. HDTV Lounge Admin January 22nd, 2009 1:59 pm

    Kevin, I haven’t heard anything about any new offers etc. I normally get notification ahead of time. Maybe the box price will drop, but I doubt it, as it’s only £99 online now, where as before it was £250. I will keep my eyes open.

  57. blob February 2nd, 2009 8:11 pm

    i have a panasonic 720p plasma in the review for the tv they say it does not deinterlace would this affect the picture quality of sky hd/

  58. HDTV Lounge Admin February 3rd, 2009 11:16 am

    @ blob:

    If your plasma has trouble de-interlacing 1080i, you can select 720p output on the Sky HD box, to perfectly match your HDTV. This shouldn’t have any negative effects.

  59. Neil February 4th, 2009 4:21 pm

    hi, have just got sky hd in, run it on a sony 40s4000 1080p, when i turn over to say for instance, SKY1HD or any other hd chanel for that matter, sometimes the picture will shrink, and it will not show in widescreen?

  60. HDTV Lounge Admin February 4th, 2009 7:30 pm

    Hi Neil,

    It’s probably your HDTV changing aspect ratio incorrectly. Make sure it’s not set to auto or “smart”, and set it to “Widescreen / 16:9″, do the same in the Sky HD output also.

  61. Lee March 19th, 2009 11:15 am

    Hey.

    I’ve just ordered Sky+HD, and it will be installed a week today. I can’t wait.

    One thing that slightly worries however, and this may seem stupid and I’m probably just looking for re-assurance, but my letter informs me that because I agreed to sign up to SKY+HD, I also agreed to receive the Sky digital service. What is this?

  62. HDTV Lounge Admin March 19th, 2009 2:56 pm

    I believe the “Sky digital service” is just the broadcast service they provide, ie. the content that you watch.

  63. Lee March 22nd, 2009 1:06 pm

    Do they provide you with their own HDMI cable?

  64. HDTV Lounge Admin March 23rd, 2009 9:25 am

    @Lee: Yes they do.

  65. phill March 28th, 2009 1:58 pm

    my uncle had his sky hd installed today he has a 1080p sony TV and the sky engineer told him to gey a blu-ray plyer and connect the skyhd box to the tv through the blu-ray and this will increase the picture quality it sounds like rubbish to me but i thought you might know better

    please help cheers phill!!!

  66. jonathan burns March 31st, 2009 5:50 am

    i have just had sky hd installed, all normal channels are fine and most of the hd channels, however, when i put sky 1 or channel 4 hd on the picture size shrinks down to leave huge black lines around the picture, is this a common problem and is there a way of fixing it? i have tried all of the picture settings on the sky box and on the tv

  67. Kinny April 1st, 2009 4:08 pm

    Today was the big day….HD+
    WOW what a difference, brilliant sharp colors!

    Just one problem, no DD 5.1 with my home cinema amp (this is not an April Fools Joke)

    The box is setup for optical – Dolby (tried out all of the delay times), the display on my my amp (DENON AVR-1602) indicates that it’s receiving a Dolby digital single but I’m only getting 1 sec of sound then 15-20 sec silence then a 1 sec burst of sound then silence again. I only get sound when the setting on my amp is set to pro-logic or virtual. Its the same on all channels (BBC HD or sky movies)

    The sky engineer did all he could and was very polite and helpful, even tried a 2nd new HD+ box with out results. All in all he spent over 4 hours setting up everything, great service.

    We tried two toslink cables (that work OK on my PS3) and one coaxial cable, still no DD 5.1
    After the engineer called the problem in with sky-HQ, we were informed the the HD+ box does have compatibility problems with some DENON surround receivers and there is nothing that they can do. Great… good picture-poor sound.

    I haven’t called sky technical or costumer service just yet, I wanted to wait if there is anyone that have had a similar experience.
    I would be grateful for any advice.

    Thanks,
    Kinny.

  68. HDTV Lounge Admin April 1st, 2009 6:06 pm

    @ phill, Yes, that sounds very strange to me also. I would say stick with the direct connection via HDMI.

    @ jonathan, Check Sky HD is set to widescreen, and also check that your HDTV aspect is set to Widescreen, rather than auto, as this can sometimes cause problems.
    p.s, Sometimes Sky 1 HD some old Simpsons etc with bars on each side.

    @ Kinny. I’m glad you like the picture quality. As Sky have stated to you that they have some compatibility problems with Denon, I’m not sure what to recommend, I have not heard of this before.

    If the Denon firmware is upgradeable, you could try that. If not contact Sky or Denon. Good luck!

  69. Gavin Hawkins June 15th, 2009 7:01 am

    Just ordered Sky HD (have been waiting for it to get stupidly cheap) I have Sony 40X3000 TV and The Sony Str 3300 AV unit, just wondering which I should connect the HD box to? At the moment the Sky+ box is connected to the AV unit as it upgrades signals to 1080p.

  70. Gavin Hawkins June 15th, 2009 7:10 am

    Also My sky+ box fan is nearly constantly in use and therefore makes a lot of noise have sky fixed this issue with the HD box?

  71. HDTV Lounge Admin June 17th, 2009 6:46 pm

    Gavin;
    I would connect the Sky HD directly to your HDTV via the HDMI cable, and then to your AV unit via the HDTV or optical from the Box.

    The HD box does have a fan which runs when it is on, but it is very quiet, I hardly notice mine even when the TV is muted.

  72. Gavin Hawkins June 18th, 2009 1:59 am

    Thankyou for the info, i’ll do that. Best site I have seen for HD usage.

  73. HDTV Lounge Admin June 18th, 2009 10:37 am

    No problem Gavin, thanks a lot for the compliment.

  74. linda jarman July 6th, 2009 10:19 am

    we have just had an sky hd+ box installed, the hd channel adjusts the size of picture automatically, but when not using the hd channel the sky channels appear as stretched (only certain channels). Our old sky+ box automatically adjusted the picture so we were dissappointed that the hd+ box is causing problems. The sky engineer has put the scart lead back in, as well as the hdmi lead,and we have to go through the process of selecting av1 or hdmi everytime we want to watch certain channels. Do you have any suggestions. Our tv is a sony bravia.

  75. HDTV Lounge Admin July 6th, 2009 11:05 am

    Hey Linda,

    Make sure output is selected as 16:9 (Widescreen) and try a few different output modes, 1080 / Auto / 720p. Also check the aspect ratio setting out your HDTV, either have it on Auto or widescreen, as that might be causing problems.

    I think auto mode (on sky output setting) changes between scart and HDMI, which might help you. Sometimes old non-HD content shown on a HD channel looks squashed, but SD (standard) channels should be fine. Check the aspect settings on the Sky box and your HDTV. Hope this helps.

  76. Dave Batstone November 9th, 2009 5:57 pm

    Thanks for review.
    Do you know if I cancel my Sky HD subscription and continue with a basic package can I still watch the free (BBC) HD channels?
    many thanks
    Dave

  77. HDTV Lounge Admin November 11th, 2009 10:03 am

    I think you can cancel your HD package after a year, and you should be able to view BBC HD, as it’s a free to air channel. But you should check with Sky.

  78. Roy Treadwell November 23rd, 2009 8:01 am

    I just have basic Sky service at present (not Sky+)and I am thinking of taking the SKY+ HD service. However at the moment I feed the main tv from Sky box via SCART and then also take a normal coax cable connection from back of SKY box to a coax splitter, which then gets distributed around the house to the normal TV points. This way all rooms can watch the selected Sky channel albeit via the coax cable with average quality. If I move to SKY+ HD will I still be able to distribute via Coax as I do at present?

    Thanks in advance

    Roy

  79. HDTV Lounge Admin November 23rd, 2009 2:08 pm

    Roy,

    You should still be able to distribute the feed via coax, you may see some improve on these sets, but probably not much, as coax isn’t an HD connection. It will of course improve on your main HDTV connected via HDMI or component.

  80. yemi November 27th, 2009 12:18 am

    i intend catching in on the new sky HD deal in a house i’ve just rented,i noticed its got a dish already which has got a ready connection,my first question is will i still have to pay the standard installation fee? ,second question- will i be given my own dish to keep if the existing dish is made use of.And i have to say i do not know if the dish is sky or virgin. Thank you

  81. Nathan November 28th, 2009 6:28 pm

    Ive just ordered sky+HD but i am wondering if there is a way around not having the box connected to an active bt or sky telephone line? Is this essential? What happens if its not connected? Why does it need to be connected and will the engineer install without the connection in place?

    thanks in advance

    Nathan

  82. HDTV Lounge Admin November 28th, 2009 8:31 pm

    Yemi,

    I believe you still have to pay installation fee even if you have your own dish. If the existing dish is suitable they will probably jut use that.

  83. HDTV Lounge Admin November 28th, 2009 8:34 pm

    Nathan,

    The engineer installed mine without a telephone line (as my line wasn’t activated yet). I run mine without it connected to a phone line, but I can’t order movies etc. I believe that if you have a multiroom setup, you will need to have them both connected.

    You are of course meant to have it connected, but I have run mine not connected for nearly two years without any problems.

  84. Vicki November 30th, 2009 7:32 am

    I am thinking about ordering a Sky plus box as i want the option to record programmes. They offer sky have given me is an HD+ box which works out a lot cheaper for me. I dont have an HD TV, will i still be able to watch programmes with the same quality as i do now (non hd box).

  85. HDTV Lounge Admin November 30th, 2009 1:26 pm

    Vicki,

    If you don’t have an HDTV you won’t be able to fully benefit from the HD quality, but having said that, the image certainly won’t be any worse! You might see some quality increase, but it will be downscaled from HD to SD.

  86. Gavin hawkins November 30th, 2009 6:59 pm

    Sky HD has been great but with the upgrade of the new sky HD guide my HD box is now extremely slow, I can press page down 4 times then have to wait 30 seconds for it to catch up. Is this just me or is anyone else experiencing this?

  87. Kris November 30th, 2009 7:21 pm

    I have just had skyhd installed on my main tv (living room) and would like to receive the hd connection on the tv in the kitchen (at the moment this tv is not hd ready so cannot tell if the connection is already there or not). Before I move the tvs in the house around I would like to check if I would already receive hd in the kitchen (if i had the right tv) or what I need to do if not (I have read stories about HDMI leads). The cable that goes into the tv in the kitchen at the moment goes into the RF IN and says on it UV DIGITAL SAT CBL. Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated

  88. HDTV Lounge Admin December 1st, 2009 12:07 pm

    Gavin, I have also experianced this slow down, it can be annoying at times. When it’s very bad, I turn off sky, wait 2-3mins, un-plug the power, wait 2mins and then plug in again. This normal helps for me.

  89. HDTV Lounge Admin December 1st, 2009 12:08 pm

    Kris, If you wish to receive HD signals on the TV in the kitchen, you need to check that it either has an HDMI input or Component inputs.

  90. Jim December 2nd, 2009 7:51 am

    I have just had my new Sky+ HD box installed and am very pleased with the picture via the HDMI cable. Like others I have back fed my tv aerial coax to send Sky around my house to other TVs on a blank analogue channel. This worked fine on my previous Sky and Sky + boxes, but I do not get a signal from my HD box, plugging into either of the RF output coax sockets. I have tried searching across different frequencies for the signal on my other sets. Connecting my main TV coax input via the Sky + box seems to blank the signal on my TV from receiving analogue or DVB channels. Is there a setting turning off the Sky RF connections?

  91. HDTV Lounge Admin December 2nd, 2009 6:46 pm

    Jim, I’m glad you like the picture. I have never tried the RF connection so I’m afraid I can’t give you an answer. I think I remember a setting for turning scart on and off, maybe it’s linked to that? Sorry I can’t help you any more.

  92. Dean February 1st, 2010 6:01 pm

    Hi. Just ordered Sky HD.

    my TV upscales SD pictures to near HD quality using in build tech. Will I need to turn this off when watching HD, or should the image still be good? Just worried I might get a few jaggies!!!

    Dean

  93. Ficey March 2nd, 2010 3:31 am

    Hi,

    Having read your review I have finally convinced myself to order my Sky+HD box. Very comprehensive review with an excellent SD/HD comparison. Just what I wanted to see.

    I was gutted when I got my Toshiba 37inch 1080p set and connected my Sky+ box to it. The pictures look like digital camera pictures that have been stretched too much.

    I really appreciate blu ray and am hoping Sky HD will be of similar quality.

    The deal I got was good too. Didn’t want multiroom so called and am paying just £30 for box which I will set up myself. It means I have a spare Sky+ box which I can sell on ebay to cover the £30 easily.

    Now I am looking forward to 3D tv through the HD box this year. Better save up for a new set.

    Many thanks to you for your useful review.

  94. HDTV Lounge Admin March 11th, 2010 2:46 pm

    Hey Ficey,

    Thanks for your great feedback, I’m glad you found my review useful!

    Cheers

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