Reliance DTH – A tough competition ahead for Tata Sky
Update (Oct 22, 2008) - Reliance BigTV is a ‘big’ disappointment. Picture quality is even worse than Tata-Sky, both with component and composite outputs. As I suspected earlier, they are possibly over-bundling the channels. Another culprit could be their MPEG-4 transcoding. Whatever the reasons; at this moment there is no good option for Indian viewers to view their operas on big TV.
It’s official now – Reliance big-tv is launched, more details here. While I have not tried their service, it looks lot better than Tata-sky, at least on paper. Here is a quick “Apple to Apple” comparison:
- Reliance is based on MPEG-4 compared to MPEG-2. This is certainly an advantageous for Reliance as they can bundle more channels into same bandwidth, hopefully this advantage will be passed to consumers (if they don’t over-bundle). We all know that, for the same bitrates MPEG-4 offers better quality than MPEG-2. I am disappointed by Tata-sky quality on big screen and some hope here from Reliance.
- Reliance Set-top box (STB) offers component out (Y/Cb/Cr) in addition to composite video connection. While both are analog video outputs, component out can certainly offer visibly better quality on larger screen. Tata sky offers composite out at the best and we all know about the quality of tata-sky when connected to state of the art larger screen LCD or Plasma.
- No digital audio (co-axial or optical) on either STB, both offers plain analog out (L-R).
- I wonder if Reliance STB has PVR or media player built-in. Nothing evident from their website. However, there is an USB port on back panel of their STB. So may be Reliance STB allow you to hook-up an external storage device to be used as a PVR or media player. Wow, if it is true – that will be useful.
- No HD or no digital video (HDIMI or DVI) yet.
Apart from above, there are some real negatives about Tata sky, Hopefully, Reliance will address it or competition will force Tata to resolve:
- Tata sky displays 8 digit numbers every 15 minutes in flashy color. While I understand the reason, they could have done in less obstructive manner. The way it is done currently is very irritating.
- One has to manually skip through channels that are not subscribed to. This is again irritating and could have been handled to skip those channels in firmware.
- Tata sky STB fails on usability. For example, it does not remember last viewed channel. So If I restart, it starts with their intro section. There are many such things.
- Remote does not work as expected if Active content is ON.
- Slow channel change
- Slow Response time for active content
- Frequent disconnection during rain
- Increase in package price without any notification (e.g. lifestyle gold)
Here is a nice post covering all of these problems at greater length.Btw, I am not very impressed with my previous experience with Reliance phone services so I will keep my finger crossed. Whatever may be, it’s going to give Tata a run for their money, if Tata don’t improve. Certainly good for consumers.