New £399 Sky+ from October

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Well it isn’t exactly a huge surprise as we’ve been predicting it for some time, but Sky has confirmed the October launch of a second version of its excellent Sky+ hard drive based satellite TV recorder.

As predicted the new version, called Sky+ 160, will have a 160 Gigabyte hard drive – enough room to record 80 hours of digital programming. The current version of the unit, which has a miniscule 40 Gigabyte hard disk, will remain on sale for the time being.

Costing £399, £200 more than the current model, the new box will feature two USB ports for future expansion. There are also a few other tweaks that Sky is offering to all Sky Plus boxes. These include the option of recording an interactive stream within a channel, easier channel sorting capabilities, improved parental control, and an easier radio recording option.

There is however no mention of the planned upgrade that would allow viewers to program the device via the Internet or through text message.

As of 31 March 2004 there were 397,000 Sky+ subscribers – an increase of more than 300% year-on-year. New subscriber figures will be announced very soon.

Enhancements to Sky+ (existing and new):

1. Sky+ Planner sorting:
The Sky+ planner will be upgraded to give viewers increased sorting capabilities. For example, a viewer will be able to sort the Sky+ planner, by A-Z, by recorded programmes still to be viewed, by recorded programmes that have been viewed, programmes still to be recorded.

2. Aspect ratio:
Sky+ viewers who have connected a TV in a another room via TV Link will now be able to change the picture setting (to 4:3 or 16:9) for TVs in a second room that are connected via a TV Link.

3. Radio recordings:
Recording radio programmes will now be easier. A viewer who goes to one of the channels and presses Record on the Sky+ remote will be taken directly to the manual recording screen to input channel name, number, start and end time.

4. Improved parental control for online connections:
Parents will now be able to restrict some online connections from a Sky+ box by setting up a pin number. A user would then have to input the pin number in order for the Sky+ box to go online. (This already exists for standard digiboxes)

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