DIGITAL TV: AN EXPERT’S VIEW: Tantrums and a technical hitch - Paul Van Barthold has a rocky digital debut

Sky’s digital TV service - the biggest thing in television since television, as claimed by its advertising - was installed in our house this weekend. It had a lot of hype to live up to.

Sky’s digital TV service - the biggest thing in television since

television, as claimed by its advertising - was installed in our house

this weekend. It had a lot of hype to live up to.



As existing subscribers we only required an upgrade installation. This

took nearly four hours! Eventually, I was handed the much vaunted new

remote control, or EPG (electronic programme guide). I have to agree

that it is extremely easy to use, particularly when combined with the

on-screen information. The front page of the TV guide offers eight

categories to choose from which take you into sets of channels. These

have been grouped by genre, for example, movies, sport or entertainment.

From there, you can make your choice and the guide selects the channel

for you.



The picture quality is good but not, to my eye, demonstrably better than

its analogue equivalent. Digital sound does seem better.



Currently, the main point of difference Sky Digital has to its analogue

counterpart is many more movie channels and the opportunity to see

up-to-date film releases - if you are prepared to pay pounds 2.99 a time

for the privilege. The pay-per-view films were easy to order and the

fact they start every 15 minutes made them attractive.



There were some niggles. First, the lack of the Cartoon Network, which

caused a mini-riot involving my three-year-old son.



Second, some time after installation we discovered the video no longer

worked. I was sure a call to the Sky customer service centre would soon

remedy the problem. Not this time! My first call resulted in me being

cut off after I had explained the problem. The second attempt involved

hanging on for seven minutes until I was promised that an engineer would

phone back by 9pm. Twenty-four hours later, I’m still waiting ...



In summary, we are pretty satisfied with the service so far. However, I

would make one plea to Mark Booth - Cartoon Network please. Soon.



Paul Van Barthold is the director of TV for the Media Business.



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