In the 1990s, we saw the proliferation of two devices that found their place in numerous homes; the color TV and the VCR. Video cassettes weren't very expensive and could be reused a couple of times, but the setup to get your favorite program recorded while you weren't at home was a bit tedious. Firstly, you'd have to manually set the record timing after confirming it from a source like the TV listing. Second, a cassette would hold up to a certain number of hours of video, so in case you wanted to tape the entire Ocsars , you would not be able to do so.
After the VCD player came into the picture, we saw the VCR coexist with it for some time. However, it phased out eventually, especially after the advent of the DVD player. It is surprising, but many people simply forgot about the power of TV recording that they earlier had, which was lost since CD players could only read discs.
As time went by, we did see a couple of disc-recorders come in the market, but they didn't do as well as the VCRs had done in the past; probably because a CD could hold only 80 minutes of video. Whatever the reasons may be, TV recording as a concept had pretty much faded away. Probably, the most recent method of TV recording is on the PC via a TV tuner card, coupled with PVR software like Microsoft Media Center or MythTV etc. But it's only the enthusiasts who use it.
Enter 2008, the time when set-top boxes and satellite TV (digital transmission, in general) are steadily becoming a common affair. Today, we have tested a device that could bring the good old days of TV recording back - the Tata Sky Plus. It's a set-top box that also doubles up as a Personal Video Recorder (PVR). Let's explore...
The Tata Sky Plus has the following highlight features:
Pause and Rewind Live TV.
Record two programmes simultaneously or watch one while recording the other.
Series Link feature.
Runs on MPEG4 technology.
The 'Pause and Rewind' feature works like this; Whenever you tune in to a channel, an internal buffer in the device starts storing the content, irrespective of whether you are recording or not. But when you jump to another channel, the buffer of the previous channel is erased and it starts recording the new channel into it. Thus, the rewind feature will only work on one channel from the time you've tuned in to it.
The Tata Sky Plus device stores the videos in its internal 160 GB hard disk, which translates up to 45 hours of video recording. It can record two programmes at a time, thanks to the two tuners built into the device.
The Series Link feature is pretty neat. For instance, 'Grey's Anatomy' runs on Star World on weekdays at 5 PM. By using this feature, you can make the device record this show everyday at 5 PM without the need to preset it day by day.
The older Tata Sky box worked on the MPEG2 compression standard. The Sky Plus box supports the latest MPEG4. Realistically speaking, this does not translate into any better quality than what we already get (not to say that what we're getting is bad). It's just a modern-day compression technology.