Some time ago (at least a year or so) Sky launched Sky Player. Similar to iPlayer, it allows Sky subscribers to watch Sky content online. As of October 27th Sky Player will be available to UK Xbox 360 owners. This seems only slightly useful at best. If you already have a Sky subscription (and an Xbox Live Gold account) then Sky Player will be free. With it you’ll be able to view some of what is available on your Sky subscription with live as Video-on-Demand. Except for the possibility of getting Sky in another room, I don’t really see the point. If you don’t have a Sky subscription, things seem a little more worthwhile. Until you see the price*. The cheapest is £15 a month for a basic entertainment package. Adding Movies and Sports will set up back £41 a month. At those prices you might as well get a normal Sky subscription. The only other difference is at least you only have a month-to-month contract. There are some screenshots from Colin Jenson. *The pricing hasn’t been confirmed. The prices I’ve quoted is for the web based service. I can’t imagine the Xbox price beeing much different but I’d guess Microsoft might negotiate something a little less…
After talking about for quite a bit, I finally have a computer setup running MythTV :) I decided to go for MythDora. It has the advantage of being straight forward to use and still leaves me with a fully functional desktop computer (which KnoppMyth doesn’t really do. It did leave me one slight headache - I didn’t have a spare DVD drive (MythDora is 1.2GB) so I had to borrow the one from Windows desktop). The hardware I have is pretty moderate (well, really low end for most applications - a Sempron 3200 and on board GeForce 6100 with a Hauppauge HVR 1300) but it runs as a combined backend/frontend without any problems, even when recording, transcoding and viewing TV (an “advantage” of living in a country where HDTV is still not an issue). On the subject of transcoding, there was one stumbling point - specifically it just didn’t work at first (I got the illuminating error message “Failed with error code 0”). After posting the output to the MythTV-Users mailing list someone pointed out it was a MythDora packaging problem - libmp3lame hadn’t been installed. The only thing that isn’t working now is the MCE IR blaster for controlling my Sky box (I’m just using Freeview though the DVB tuner on HVR 1300). lirc seems to be setup right since when I run
irw and press buttons on my remotes (either the MCE remote that came with the HVR or the Sky remote) it detects them properly. Running
irsend doesn’t do anything though (there’s not even an error). But at the moment I’m recording more than I can watch with just Freeview anyway… Next time, less rambly :P
At the moment I have a Sky subscription with a Sky box. The Sky box outputs to my computer which is running Media Center which can change channel on the box using an IR blaster. This isn’t ideal and also means that I’ll never get HD since the Sky box only sends an SD signal out of the scart/composite output. Surely there must be a way to connect the computer directly to the computer and receive TV that way? Well there is. But there are issues. Firstly you need a DVB-S card. These are just digital TV capture cards that you can plug the cable from a satellite dish into. If you stop there you will be able to receive all the free-to-air channels. Oddly enough though that won’t get you all the free channels. To get the encrypted Sky channels you will need a CAM - Conditional Access Module - with a card reader. In theory you just put your card in and set up your DVB card to use it. Of course anything to do with decrypting commercial stuff is never that easy. You see there are many different encryption methods and most CAMs don’t support them all (and some only support one). What’s even worse is the method used by Sky is VideoGuard from a company called NDS (which is owned by News Corporation, the company which owns Sky). And guess what? You have to pay a license to use it. That doesn’t mean you can’t physically use it though. There are a couple of CAMs (literally two from what I’ve read) that can decrypt VideoGuard signals but the legality is questionable. Which is silly since generally speaking you’ll still have a (paid for) Sky subscription card in the reader. The other issue is Sky’s Terms and Conditions on this issue. They say that the card must stay in the box the whole time, that you can’t use the card for unauthorised purposes and that the card needs to be paired to a specific box. However it doesn’t actually say you need to use a Sky box and the very first thing it says is that you are bound to the conditions once you put the card in the box. So surely if you never do that you aren’t bound to the conditions..?
We are long time Sky customers and recently ordered Sky Multiroom so I could connect Sky up to my new Media Center PC. On Thursday they sent us two new viewing cards. I knew we’d need a new one but I didn’t expect two - I just figured that the change in our subscription meant the old one needed changing. Except on Friday they sent us another one. So now we have four, our old one and the three new ones. This could lead to an interesting possibility since we actually have a spare Sky box. So we’ll have three Sky boxes (two normal and one Sky+) and three new cards. That’s a total of four signals required - exactly the amount that a single minidish can handle. Unfortunately after looking around the Sky site I found out that you need a seperate multiroom subscription for each additional box. So why did they send us three new cards? digital TV, Sky, Sky+ Sky Plus, multiroom