Sky's Wi-Fi enabled DRX890W Sky+ HD box makes it a snap to go online. But what has the broadcaster quietly taken away in return?
With Internet-delivered On Demand an increasingly important ingredient in the Great British Tape Off, even satellite broadcaster Sky has finally deemed it right and proper to integrate Wi-Fi into its set top boxes. But there's more than just wireless connectivity that sets this new receiver apart from its predecessors...
Sky+ HD Wi-Fi: Size and build
The new Wi-Fi Sky+ HD box looks much like its predecessors, albeit with trendy Wi-Fi branding and the appearance of a WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) button on the front fascia. Measuring a trim 346 x 255 x 73mm (W/D/H), it's a smart looker that doesn't hog shelf space.
Sky+ HD Wi-Fi: Features
The stand out feature here is, of course, Wi-Fi. The set-up routine is easy enough to follow: there's a choice of either manual hook-up, during which you'll need to enter a password, or WPS if your router supports it. While an Ethernet connection will always be preferable in our book, this undoubtedly simplifies getting online.
The box employs a 500GB HDD, of which 250GB is available for personal timeshifting, which equates to around 60 hours of HD. The remainder is reserved for push Video on Demand. Given that Sky doesn't stream its on demand offerings, but rather sits them on the box until you're done, these are pulled onto the personal recording partion. If you need more capacity, Sky offers a 2TB iteration, now also with Wi-Fi.
Sky+ HD Wi-Fi: Connections
The rear panel reveals the biggest physical change to the receiver. There's no RF loop-through/onboard RF demodulator.
Subscribers who currently use their Sky box to feed another TV from the RF output, or perhaps cascade into an RF distribution amplifier for whole house TV, will need to buy an optional RF loop-through module, which connects to a new 10-pin I/O port mini-DIN.
Other connections are standard. In addition to HDMI there are two digital audio outputs (optical and coaxial), Scart, F-connectors, Ethernet, RJ45 jack, RS232 control plus (currently inactive) e-SATA and USB.
Sky+ HD Wi-Fi: Content
When it comes to hi-def in particular and channel choice generally, Sky leads the pack. With 67 channels currently in HD it's the king of the content jungle. Sky's on demand offering is also bulking up faster than Stallone prepping for Expendables 3. In addition to the last 30 days of TV from featured catch-up services, its box sets and movie choice is ballooning.
Sky+ HD Wi-Fi: Picture Quality
This PVR's AV performance is outstanding. The least compressed channels on the Sky platform look spectacular, and even some of the SD fare is impressive. Throw in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, when available, and you have a great home cinema experience. It's worth noting that operational noise is also very low. This could well be the quietest Sky box yet.
Sky+ HD Wi-Fi: Verdict
Overall, we rate the Sky+ DRX890W a timely update to a great STB. When it comes to content choice and sheer slickness, Sky remains the pay platform to beat. While it's a shame that aerial loopthrough has been relegated to bolt-on status, the inclusion of Wi-Fi is probably going to be of greater user to the majority of subscribers. Highly recommended.
Sky+ HD Wi-Fi release date: Out now
Sky+ HD Wi-Fi price: £180 outside of contract. Free subject to contract and subscription packages. Additional set-up charges may also apply.