Past EED rants


Live leaderboard

Poker leaderboard

Voice of EED

Sunday 30 January 2005

Skys the limit! [Houmous]

I signed up to Sky along time ago. It’s hard to imagine but it was a time without Broadband. It was a time when I had never heard of the word “Bittorrent”. It was a time when you only really leeched at LAN parties ( you remember logging off to find that sleeping bag at about 4 am and “there are 17 users connected to your PC – do you wish to close this connection” came up - YES!).
All of this meant that at the time I not only paid my subscription to Sky – I actually watched it too!
This, of course, has now all changed and I recently realised that I’m now paying £51 a month for something I never use – we either watch film DVDs from Screen Select, *stuff* from my PC, or DVD sets of series (Sopranos, West Wing etc) which I buy and then sell again on Amazon when we have finished. The only things we watch now on the TV are series which we record, such as Shameless, which inevitably are on BBC1, 2 3 or 4.
But – what’s the alternative? My first port of call was Freeview. The Freeview site assured me that my post code could not receive Freeview which I knew had to be utter bollocks because I have line of site (across the sea) to the transmitter on the Isle of Wight. Borrowing a friends Freeview box quickly proved this to be case (nice one Freeview marketing people!).
OK so far so good – but what about my Sky dish etc that would now be sitting forlornly on my roof? Well a bit of trawling around the forums lead me to find about a closely kept secret by Sky – the one off £20 payment freeview Sky card! A call to the special secret Sky number was answered immediately by a man who sounded like he had been asleep. He seemed delighted to have had a call and indeed a sale (I imagined a dark room – covered in cobwebs at the end of the corridor at Sky Towers without a name on the door) and the card arrived the next day. Broadly you get the same sort of channels as Freeview with a few different ones thrown in. So what to do?
I found the answer in the shape of aFortec Diamond FSCI 5100 De Luxe. This neat little box lets you plug in your Sat receiver and your freeview aerial and gives you both sets of channels (without any card being required – not even the Sky freeview one) – sweet! It works a treat and comes pre-programmed with all the relevant channels. The radio side works well and because it gives you a readout on the front of the box you don’t need to switch the TV on set a radio station to listen to. It will also take Top up cards if needed. Sorted!
Ringing Sky to cancel my subscription was a joy to behold. These guys must go on week long training courses to deal with this type of situation. We had the lot – pathos – Oh Sir you have been with us since the beginning – surely you don’t want to go now!. Awkward – Oh well if you do want to cancel I need to put you through to another department, they are very busy right now – do you want to ring back? After a 5 min wait to be put through they then tried Greed – Oh well if you stay we can offer you a £21 package for £13 Sir! I was resolute though and I am now … of Sky!
Things got even better when my Ebay auction for my Paice Skyplus box finished where it went for over £100 - somewhat amazing when you can get them for £99 – but heyho its therefore virtually paid for my new box!


  1. I think if i jacked in sky, it'd be the sky+ i'd miss rather than the channels. If someoen brought out a decent epg for freeview, I recon I'd bin sky asap.

  2. After a bit more investigation - the card from Sky, which they charge £20 one-off for, basically gives you all the Freeview channels but in higher bitrate/better quality. So it strikes me that probably there's no real need for the dual DVB-T/DVB-S solution?
    I've got a nice Pace Sky digibox (the small white one) lying around and I'd basically just do that were it not for the fact that the thieving bastards at Telewest have locked me into a 12-month contract for the shitty cable TV.

  3. I dont think Freeview and the Sky free channels overlap completely - but I take your point. A major motivation for me was I had both already. One sneaky thing about Sky I forgot to mention is if you dont have a Sky subscription you have to pay £10 a month to be able to use the Sky plus recording facilities!
    I'm currently researching the most cost effective alternative way of recording programs - expect an addtion to this blog shortly!

  4. You need a premium subscription if you want to avoid that £10 a month, that means either movie channel, or sports. I guess you could get a tivo, but the epg is fekking pants.

  5. I return to you my brethren – the prodigal son - tail between my legs, with a sorry tale of alternative EPG woe.
    The Fortec works great and we certainly don’t feel that we are missing out with the free Sat/Freeview combo. However I did start getting pissed off that I couldn’t record my fav progs e.g. Shameless, but after extensive research into alt EPGs and recording procedures for DVD recorders I have come to the sad but clear conclusion (as indeed Slim warned me) that they are all pants!
    I have therefore just taken possession of my new Paice Sky+ box and signed up for the £10 per month fee just to be able to record. Within 48 hours I then succumbed to the extra £19.50 family package - if I now lay out £5 more per month I get the sky+ "free" and can get a £33 package with a load more channels I will never watch.....I’ll probably be able to resist it for a week or so hehe.
    Apparently Freeview are bringing out a more sophisticated EPG later this year - if it’s good I'll go for a Freeview tuner with HD and the £8.99 top up card for the extra channels which should do us fine.