New My Sky HDi Guide Goes Live

This afternoon Sky TV launched its new-look electronic programme guide for My Sky HDi subscribers.

It’s the first major overhaul the EPG’s had since the satcaster went HD two years ago and vastly improves on the original interface, which looked pathetically primitive post-FreeviewHD and TiVo.

Surprisingly, Sky chose to update the EPG software during the day rather than overnight, when fewer viewers would have been inconvenienced by normal programming being interrupted for up to 10 minutes.

Initially, the new look is more bewildering than intuitive. Indeed, tap the Planner button on the remote and the grid is the same as always.

But push the Search (0) button and up come the programmes you’ve recorded to the hard drive with a five-minute “quarter-screen” preview of each that’s highlighted as you scroll down the list.

You can search alphabetically or by genre, and if you opt to wipe a recording, you’re prompted to confirm, eliminating the risk of pushing the yellow Delete button by mistake.

Select the channel category you went to view on the Guide, and you can still watch TV live — on the quarter-screen — while previewing what’s coming up. You also can view programme listings one channel at a time.

But the biggest innovation is Record Me, which lets you book weeks ahead of its airing any programme that’s promoted on-screen with a Push to Record icon.

Ironically, the biggest disappointment of the new EPG is the inability to book recordings (other than Series Link) or view scheduling details more than a week ahead — a puzzling and frustrating oversight that ultimately makes My Sky HDi’s guide/planner less useful than TiVo’s.

It’s also not as stylish or aesthetically pleasing but is easier to use than TiVo’s, and largely justifies Sky marketing director Mike Watson’s claim that “the combination of Record Me, the electronic programme guide enhancements and Sky’s rich content offering will ensure that My Sky subscribers will get even more value from their subscription.”

If only it wasn’t for that white elephant in the living room: two years on and Sky has still to deliver HDi subscribers value for money where it matters most — more HD content than merely two movie channels, two sport channels and three free-to-air channels.

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