Is MySky “mature”?

Clearly, TiVo is mature (whether it manages to survive amongst all the competition, particularly from PVRs like MySky that are from content providers, is a separate question). So an easy way to consider whether the MySky design is mature is to compare the features of the two systems.

  • TiVo lets you pause, rewind, slo-mo and instant replay live TV.
  • TiVo’s Wishlist feature lets you record every movie, biography or interview with your favourite actor, or every game your favourite team plays, and so on.
  • You can rate programs (‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’) to teach your TiVo which programs you like, so that Tivo will fill up available space with Suggestions of things you might like to watch.  (Since the PVR manages the space, it doesn’t matter that it’s always full).
  • TiVo’s Season Pass allows recording an entire season or a certain number of episodes from a season. It will find repeats, if possible, and use those if a clash prevents recording the original broadcast. It has a hierarchy so that you can decide which series you care about most.
  • TiVo’s online scheduling lets you make changes to your planner via the Internet.
  • TiVo lets you view your digital photos and listen to your digital music.
  • With multiple TiVo boxes, you can record on one and watch on another.
  • With TiVoToGo you can transfer recordings to a computer, mobile device, or DVD.
  • TiVo has a comprehensive KidZone system that not only blocks adult content, but provides recommendations for children’s content, has separate recording lists for children’s content, and allows filtering on interest, not just rating.
  • TiVo allows searching for recordings with a particular title, actor, keyword, or genre

So, how many of these do MySky offer? You can pause, rewind and slow-motion view live TV (although the slow motion is flawed, as John Porter has pointed out, since you have to go back an extra two seconds, so that you have time to activate the slow motion). I’m not sure what “instant replay” is – I presume it’s some sort of “play the last 30 seconds” button, which MySky doesn’t have.

There’s nothing like the WishList, and the ‘series link’ is pathetic compared to Season Pass, and there’s nothing like the Suggestions. There’s no online scheduling, and no capability for working with the user’s own digital media files. If you have two MySky boxes the recordings are completely separate. The only way to transfer content off MySky is to play it and record it on a device though the various video outputs (e.g. to a DVD-R or to a computer with some sort of tuner card). There is a good, but simple, parental control system with MySky (basically the same as regular Digital Sky) but it doesn’t have the features that KidZone has.

You can’t search at all with MySky. There are various guide views that only show certain content (I’d concede that this allows a genre search of a sort), but they are pretty limited compared to a real search.

Does MySky have any features that TiVo doesn’t? There’s better integration with the content provider, but I can’t think of anything else.

It seems clear to me that the MySky design isn’t mature for 2006. Mature for 2000, sure. I suppose that was when SkyTV started planning this, so maybe that explains it…

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by John Porter on March 4, 2006 at 7:40 pm

    MySky is clearly better designed than any recording system I have ever used, so from my viewpoint that makes it a mature design. I suppose if I had been using TiVo I might consider it positively archaic!

    MySky does allow you to record two programs at once on the same box though, which apparently TiVo doesn’t, and you can watch a third at the same time. That is more useful to me than the features listed above. Not that a mature design has anything to do with the length of the feature list, mind you.

    I have to wonder whether a proper slo-mo (when in pause mode, the FF and REW buttons cycle through forward and reverse slo-mo speeds) was chopped out (perhaps accidently), like they did with the commercial skip feature. Anyone have UK or Aust experience and can answer that?

  2. Posted by Hilary Davy on March 8, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    Bugger. I’ve been really excited about MySky coming out for about 6 months now….I held off getting it before Christmas because of holidays, work trips etc.., and a somewhat naieve hope that they might drop the price in the New Year. It’s getting to the point where I’ve been away so much that I have a ridiculous backlog of Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Lost etc over 3 long-play VCR tapes that I’m thinking almost daily “if only I had MySky”….not to mention the other shows that I’d like to record but have had to prioritise out thanks to limited tape storage……

    So, I rang Sky yesterday and they’re coming out Friday week – I thought I’d do some research to see how others are finding it, and I found your blog. Thanks for taking the time to do this so that others like me can take the rose-tinted glasses off!

    Question for you – would you recommend getting MySky? Bear in mind I work in IT (S/W dev background), I love gadgets etc.. I have chosen MySky over a media centre for now because of the Program Guide integration (including TVNZ/TV3 which I watch most), and out of the box dual tuner etc.. for a low pricepoint.

    I envisage using MySky to automatically record my favourite shows – 3 or 4 a week, not generally on at the same time as one another. It sounds like I’d use Series Link for this, but that feature may have a “few” flaws. What are the manual workarounds for this? I saw something in a post about being about to manually set-up a recording? How does this work, are you able to tell it to record from x to y every Monday, like you can on most VCRs?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

  3. Posted by John Porter on March 9, 2006 at 11:35 pm

    Thanks indeed to Tony.

    I recommend getting MySky. Series link is ok on TV3, and not too bad on TV2. Even on TV1, it records most of it… You can always keep using your vcr for backup. That’s what I do with my hard drive recorder.

    Do check out http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?ForumId=34&TopicId=5959 – there is a lot of discussion there, including some workarounds, especially on the last few pages of the thread.

    Yes the manual setup is similar to a vcr. I have yet to use it, and I timeshift everything. I am a programmer too.

  4. Things appear to have vastly improved over the last week. Not just the series link feature, as mentioned in the geekzone.co.nz thread, but I haven’t had a failed recording for some time now. This doesn’t appear to be solely due to the “searching…” issue, because the failures stopped before that did.

    I presume that they’ve fixed the massive problems that they had. Time will tell if there are more waiting in the wings. I certainly don’t trust Sky any more.

    If things continue as they have for the last week or so, then yes, I would recommend it. As with any new-to-market technology, if you’re willing to wait, you’ll probably get it both cheaper and with fewer bugs, but it is useable now.

    Be aware, too, that it doesn’t have any of the features of a good PVR. Just being able to record and a very basic series link. Still better than a PVR, but nothing compared to what can be done.

    I’ll do an updated post later today (sorry that things are so sporadic, but work is pretty busy at the moment, so I don’t often find the time).

  5. Perhaps I should say that I too do some programming, although I also do quite a lot of tertiary teaching, and computer-science related research, so there’s less programming in my day than there once was.

  6. MySky is clearly better designed than any recording system I have ever used, so from my viewpoint that makes it a mature design. I suppose if I had been using TiVo I might consider it positively archaic!

    My excitment for MySky came from years (literally) of having people rave to me about how great their PVR system (typically, but not just, TiVo) was. I wrote to Sky years back asking them about their plans, and was told that they were in progress on developing such a system. I expected this years ago, and would probably have been content at the time with something as basic as the current MySky is. Since they’ve had an extra three-or-so years, I figured they must have been doing something with that time, and thought that we’d get something with a modern feature set. It is very disappointing to me that that’s not the case. We’re so far behind, it seems unlikely we’ll ever catch up. Big Sky updates (like these would be) seem to happen about every five years or so, which means MySky isn’t likely to significantly improve until 2010 or so.

    MySky does allow you to record two programs at once on the same box though, which apparently TiVo doesn’t, and you can watch a third at the same time.

    Some TiVo boxes (particularly the DirecTiVo boxes) will do this.

    Not that a mature design has anything to do with the length of the feature list, mind you.

    It has something to do with it, although it’s not everything. I didn’t mention that the TiVo interface is also much simpler and easier to use, which is probably a better indicator.

    A mature design does allow a larger feature list, however, because people have thought through what may be added. It’s clear that the MySky series link has no hope of expanding into a more sophiscated system; it would have to be replaced. If there is a long feature list and all work as expected, that’s also IMO a sign of a mature product.

  7. Posted by Hilary Davy on March 14, 2006 at 2:48 pm

    Thanks for the comments guys – I’ll definitely go ahead and give it a go now. I’ll have a look over the other link you provided too. Thanks again and fingers crossed, Hilary.

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