Sky+ HD – Information and Advice

We take a closer look at Sky Digital’s High Definition TV service, and the Sky+HD satellite TV recorder.

 

What is Sky+HD?

Sky Digital offers over 50 high definition TV channels – far more than rivals Virgin Media and BT Vision.

Picture of Sky+ HD BoxHigh Definition TV pictures are lot sharper and clearer than standard TV pictures – with four times more detail than standard TV broadcasts.

Sky HD comes with a special Sky satellite receiver, the Sky+HD Box, which is basically the popular Sky+ box with an output for connection to a high definition TV.

There’s more information the Sky HD box over on Sky’s HD site at sky.com/shop/boxes/sky-hd-box

 

Why choose Sky+HD?

Here are some of the benefits of the Sky+HD service and the Sky HD digibox:

  • Sky HD ChannelsOver 50 channels of HD – more than any other provider
  • Amazing HD picture quality – 720p and 1080i formats supported
  • Record up to 180 hours of TV, or 60 hours of HD TV onto the built-in disk
  • Watch one digital channel while recording another
  • Use ‘Series link’ to keep track of your favourite shows
  • Browse through a week’s worth of TV with the on-screen programme guide, selecting which shows to record
  • Pause and rewind live TV.
  • Get access to a collection of “on demand” content with Sky Anytime, as well as Sky Box Office
  • Control of your Sky HD set-top box over the Internet or from your mobile phone. More

 

Sky HD BoxHow to get Sky+HD:

FREE Sky+HD Box – New customers pay no installation fee if ordering Sky+HD online with broadband and phone calls.

More on Sky Digital's OffersNote that there’s a Sky+HD subscription charge to get Sky’s HD channels, on top of your existing Sky TV subscription.

Order now at www.sky.com/shop/high-definition

Already with Sky? There are some offers available for existing Sky customers looking to upgrade to HD – See upgrade to HD online

Free M and S Voucher

Marks & Spencer voucher for new customers signing up to Sky online.

 

 

Sky HD Channel List:

Below, you’ll find our list of the Sky HD channels on offer here in the UK:

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Num
ChannelDetailsChannel type

106
Sky One HDUK and US shows from Sky OneSubscription channel

107
Sky Living HDFormerly Living TVSubscription channel

108
Sky Atlantic HDUS TV Shows from HBOSubscription channel

109
Watch HDEntertainmentSubscription channel

111
Dave HDEntertainmentSubscription channel

112
Comedy Central HDComedy from ParamountSubscription channel

113
Universal Channel HDEntertainment channel from NBCSubscription channel

114
SyFy HDSci-Fi channelSubscription channel

118
ITV2 HDEntertainment channel from ITVSubscription channel

119
ITV3 HDEntertainment channel from ITVSubscription channel

120
ITV4 HDEntertainment channel from ITVSubscription channel

124
Fox HDUS Imports in HDSubscription channel

126
MTV HDMusicSubscription channel

136
E4 HDEntertainment from Channel 4Subscription channel

140
Channel 4 HDChannel 4 shows and US seriesNo subscription. Sky card needed

143
BBC One HDSimulcast of BBC OneNo subscription. No card needed

162
RTE Two HDIrelandNorthern Ireland only

169
BBC Two HDSelection of BBC contentNo subscription. No card needed

171
Five HDSelection of ITV content in HDNo subscription. Sky card needed

178
ITV 1 HDSelection of ITV content in HDNo subscription (England/Wales only)

211
Bio HDBiography channelSubscription channel

217
Sky 3DThe UK’s first 3D TV channelSubscription channel

243
Sky Arts 1 HDArts channelSubscription channel

245
Sky Arts 2 HDArts channelSubscription channel

249
Good Food HDFood / CookerySubscription channel

301
Sky Movies Premier HDOne of Sky’s Movies channelsSubscription channel (‘Movies’)

303
Sky Movies Showcase HDOne of Sky’s Movies channelsSubscription channel (‘Movies’)

304
Sky Movies Comedy HDOne of Sky’s Movies channelsSubscription channel (‘Movies’)

305
Sky Movies Action HDOne of Sky’s Movies channelsSubscription channel (‘Movies’)

306
Sky Movies Family HDOne of Sky’s Movies channelsSubscription channel (‘Movies’)

307
Sky Movies Crime & Thriller HDOne of Sky’s Movies channelsSubscription channel (‘Movies’)

308
Sky Drama and Romance HDOne of Sky’s Movies channelsSubscription channel (‘Movies’)

309
Sky Movies Sci-Fi & Horror HDOne of Sky’s Movies channelsSubscription channel (‘Movies’)

310
Sky Modern Greats HDOne of Sky’s Movies channelsSubscription channel (‘Movies’)

311
Sky Movies Classics HDOne of Sky’s Movies channelsSubscription channel (‘Movies’)

312
Sky Movies Indie HDOne of Sky’s Movies channelsSubscription channel (‘Movies’)

345
MGM HDRe-mastered MGM FilmsSubscription channel (‘Movies’)

358
MTV Live HDMusicSubscription channel

401
Sky Sports HD 1Part of Sky Sports packageSubscription channel (‘Sports’)

402
Sky Sports HD 2Part of Sky Sports packageSubscription channel (‘Sports’)

403
Sky Sports HD 3Part of Sky Sports packageSubscription channel (‘Sports’)

404
Sky Sports HD 4Part of Sky Sports packageSubscription channel (‘Sports’)

405
Sky Sports News HDSports channelSubscription channel

408
Sky Sports F1 HDSports channelSubscription channel

412
Eurosport HDSports channelSubscription channel

417
ESPN HDRequires subscription to ESPNSubscription channel

430
ESPN America HDRequires subscription to ESPNSubscription channel

501
Sky News HDThe first UK HD News channelSubscription channel

507
NHK World HDEnglish news service from JapanNo Subscription

523
Eurosport 3DSporting EventsSubscription channel

525
Animal Planet HDNatural history and wildlifeSubscription channel

526
National Geographic HDDocumentariesSubscription channel

528
Nat Geo Wild HDNatural history and wildlifeSubscription channel

529
History HDHistorySubscription channel

532
Eden HDDocumentariesSubscription channel

536
Discovery HDScience, technology and lifestyleSubscription channel

555
Crime HDCrimeSubscription channel

601
Cartoon Network HDKids channelSubscription channel

604
Nickelodeon HDKids channelSubscription channel

607
Disney XD HDKids channelSubscription channel

609
Disney Channel HDKids channelSubscription channel

622
Disney Cine HDDisney Movie ChannelSubscription channel

752
Sky Box Office HD1Box Office MoviesPay per view

753
Sky Box Office HD2Box Office MoviesPay per view

889
Sky InsiderSky employeesFree (Sky employees)

Last updated June 2012.

List out-of-date? Please let us know

Alternatives to Sky HD?

Sky offers 50 HD channels, but it comes at a price. Subscription to Sky’s HD service costs £10.25 a month over and above your existing Sky TV subscription. There are alternatives:

  • Virgin Media V+ boxVirgin Media: Now offering 29 HD channels including BBC, ITV, Channel 4, E4, Sky 1, Sky Sports HD, Film 4 HD and ESPN. Subscription to the HD service is just £5 a month. More: Virgin HD.
  • Subscription-free: BBC One HD, BBC Two HD and ITV 1 HD are available with no subscription with Freeview HD and Freesat.

 

 

Sky+HD Review

This is a very easy review to write – if you’re in the UK, and you’re looking to make the most of your HD-ready TV, then Sky+HD is the way to go. The Sky+HD box builds on the success of the Sky + box, with all those great recording features, and adds high definition to the mix. Picture quality is amazing – so sharp and natural, that you’ll want more. Try a flip between National Geographic and GOLD, and you’ll really notice the difference.

Sky HD EPG
Sky’s On-screen Electronic Programme Guide

The set-top box is great (more below), and there’s promise of some new goodies. The box has an Ethernet connector (for the Sky Anytime+ service), as well as two USB sockets (for future use).

Sky HD Box
The Sky+HD Box

Another feature worthy of mention is ‘Sky Anytime‘ – This started rolling out in 2007 on Sky+HD boxes. The Anytime service uses space on the hard disk, and captures some top Sky TV programmes and movies overnight. This means that there’s always a selection of programmes ready to watch on-demand.

Sky+HD Anytime
Sky Anytime on a Sky+HD box

Our views on Sky HD? We’re sold… stunning picture, a powerful box, and the promise of more good stuff to come. Put your HD-ready telly through its paces, and enjoy!

There’s more information on Sky’s HD site at sky.com/shop/boxes/sky-hd-box

 

The Sky+HD Box

Below is a photo of the rear of the Amstrad Sky+HD set-top box:

Rear of Sky HD box
Rear of Amstrad Sky+HD box

 

Sky+HD Box Specifications

Specifications of the Thomson Sky+HD box:

  • Dimensions: 380 x 245 x 80 mm (leave plenty of room for ventilation)
  • Hard disk capacity: 300GB (160GB personal space storage)
  • Aerial: RF aerial in , 2 x RF aerial
    outputs (modulated)
  • Video output: HDMI socket, 2 x SCART (Composite, RGB), S-Video, component HD Analogue (Y, Pr, Pb). Note that component video support has been dropped on newer Sky+HD boxes
  • Audio output: Optical digital audio, 2 x stereo phono
  • Other connectors: Telephone line (RJ11) socket, RS-232 female socket, 2 x USB sockets (reserved for future use), Ethernet (RJ45), SATA (external HDD socket reserved for future use)

 

Sky+HD FAQ

Note that the Sky+HD box has the functionality of the Sky+ box. You may want to check out our Sky+ FAQ.

HD InstallationSky HD requires a special Sky+HD digibox. You can get one of these direct from Sky Digital – it requires installation by a Sky installer.

The Sky satellite dish will need to have a multi-LNB fitted and two cable feeds from the dish to the Sky set-top box. This is so that the Sky+ box can record two channels at the same time.

Like standard Sky boxes, the Sky HD box must also be connected to a UK phone line.

More details on Sky+HD installation at Sky.com.

SubscriptionTo get Sky’s HD channels, you have to pay an additional monthly HD fee. Details at sky.com/shop/boxes/sky-hd-box

If you don’t want to pay a subscription, the channels BBC One HD, BBC Two HD and Channel 4 HD are available subscription-free.

Do it yourselfWe’ve been asked if it’s possible to buy your own Sky+HD box, and fit it yourself.

Yes – if you wish, you can buy your own Sky+HD box, rather than having to go through Sky. A Sky+HD box requires two separate feeds from the satellite dish, and your dish will need an LNB with multiple outputs – this is to support recording one channel while watching another. Once connected, you’ll need to call Sky Customer Services to get them to “marry” the serial number of your new Sky+HD box to your Sky viewing card, and then to activate the Sky+HD subscription, so you can view the HD channels.

Sky won’t activate a box unless they’re happy that it’s legitimate, and you’re not misusing your account by swapping cards between boxes on a regular basis.

If you’re brave, you can pick up a Sky+ box cheaply on Ebay

HDMI socketsHDMI plugThe Sky+HD box is designed to connect to a TV set using an HDMI lead. Here are some links related to HDMI connectivity

New-look EPGSky EPGSky started rolling out their new-look EPG in March 2009. They phased the release of the EPG to boxes with different version numbers and different manufacturers.

Some users got the new look EPG version quickly, while others had a longer wait.
There appears to be no way to “force” an upgrade to the newer version of EPG – you have to wait until Sky roll it out to your box as an over the air upgrade.

Boxes made by Thomson and Pace should have received the upgrade by August 2009. Boxes made by Samsung got the upgrade in November 2009, and Amstrad users got the update in December 2009.

Satellite Dish“Do I need to change my satellite dish to get Sky HD?” – No. If you’re able to get Sky at the moment, your existing dish is fine for Sky HD.

Note though that Sky+HD needs two feeds from the satellite dish, but standard Sky only needs one. If you only have one feed at the moment, Sky will have to run a second lead from the LNB on the dish to the Sky+HD box.

HD Quality“I’ve never been that impressed with the quality. Certainly nothing like the demos in stores. Am I doing something wrong?”

When you switch been a standard definition channel and an HD channel, you should notice a crisper picture with more detail. If not, there are a few things to check:

  • You need to have an HD-ready TV set. If your TV does not support HD, it won’t be able to show high definition images
  • You need to connect from your Sky+HD box using an HDMI cable. If you connect using a SCART lead or a co-ax aerial lead, you’ll only be able to see standard definition images
  • You need to set the TV so that it’s viewing via the HDMI socket (not via SCART or aerial)
  • Make sure your Sky+HD box is set to output in HD. Go to Services > Settings > Picture and make sure “HD resolution output” isn’t set to 576. We’d recommend “Automatic”.

If you’re still not getting the most from HD, you may want to play with your TV’s picture settings (brightness, contrast, colour, etc), and check that your TV is not in a non-HD mode. As all TVs are different, you’ll need to check the manual for information on how to get the best picture from your TV.

No HD TV?If you don’t have an HD-ready TV set yet, you can still get a Sky+HD box and watch in standard definition. You will be able to connect to a non-HD TV set using either a SCART lead or standard TV aerial cable. You can then upgrade to an HD-ready set later if required.
More HD channelsOne of our podcast listeners asked whether we can expect to see Sky Digital phase out non-HD programming over time, to make way for more high-definition programming. Our take is that we’re some way away from that, as there just isn’t the volume of TV programming available in the HD format. Doubtless this will increase, but as with Sky Digital, change is slow, and tends to be driven by user demand. Hi-def UK Gold, anyone?
Sky HD in others roomsWe’ve been asked if you can get Sky HD in more than one room. Here are some notes:

To watch Sky programmes in HD, you need to connect to your TV using an HDMI lead to a suitably equipped HD-ready TV.

If you have two HD TV sets you want to connect to, you may be able to use the HDMI connector for one TV, and the Component connectors for the other TV, although over a long distance, this may not be practical. If you need long cables or extra connectors, try TV Cables or Maplin Electronics

Sky TV linkIf you have non-HD TV sets elsewhere in the house, you can still connect these to the output of the Sky+HD box – if you’re connecting to a TV in another room, you’ll typically use a co-ax aerial lead. With this solution, you will be able to watch all of the channels from your main Sky+HD box on a second TV – but this will be in Standard Definition (you can’t run HD over aerial cable).

You can use a “Magic Eye” TV Link (pictured) with a Sky+HD box to allow you to use a remote control in the second room to remotely change channel. More on Sky Magic Eyes.

See our Sky in other rooms section for more on Sky in extra rooms.

Latest versionTo check which version of software your Sky HD box is using, press the Services button, choose Settings, then select ‘System Details’.

Sky HD Version

You can force your Sky box to update to the latest software. The procedure can be found on the Satcure FAQ

Please visit our Sky forum to discuss version numbers and updates

ManualLooking for the Sky+HD user manual? We have found a Sky+HD User Guide for the Thomson and Pace Sky+HD set-top boxes at www1.sky.com/HDGuide, under the “Further information” option.
Ethernet portThe Sky HD box has an Ethernet (RJ45) port on the back. This is to support connection to the Internet for Sky’s Sky Anytime+ service, which launched in 2010.

For more details, see our Sky Anytime+ page

Video sendersOur podcast team had a call from a listener asking whether his existing AV sender used to send TV pictures to a receiver elsewhere in his house, would work with his Sky HD box.

Well, the video sender can’t be used to transmit high definition around the home. Firstly, most AV senders use SCART connectors, and High Definition doesn’t work over SCART. Secondly, the bandwidth needed for sending HD wirelessly, isn’t there. Although you can’t send HD using a video sender, as the Sky+HD box has SCART sockets, so you’ll still be able to send standard definition pictures to another TV wirelessly.

DVD / CDsWe’ve been asked if the Sky HD boxes will play back DVDs or CDs. The answer is a firm “no” – the Sky HD box doesn’t have a slot for a disk to be inserted – you’ll need a separate DVD player connected to your telly to play DVDs and CDs.
Installer menuThe technically-minded out there may be interested in the hidden “installer” menu on the Sky+HD box, that can be accessed by pressing the ‘Services’ button, then 0 0 1 followed by ‘Select’

Sky HD installer menu

 

 

Got a general question on Sky’s HD service? Ask in our Sky forum , or contact us

More on Sky+HD at sky.com/shop/boxes/sky-hd-box

 

Sky Links

  • Order Sky+HD – Details of the Sky TV packages and the special installation offers
  • Sky FAQ – Help and advice with Sky Digital
  • Sky information – Our page of information on Sky
  • Sky forum – The area of our forum dedicated to Sky
  • PVR explained – Details of Personal Video Recorder (hard-disk systems), including Sky+

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