March 08, 2009

Sky HD EPG finally arrives

There are precious few areas where Virgin Media's TV service is superior to Sky's, but the V+ EPG's functionality is one. Okay, so the interface itself isn't to everyone's liking, but what it actually does is pretty impressive and it's only now that Sky seems to have caught up. According to Digital Spy, the new Sky HD EPG is finally rolling out this week, many, many months after it was first announced. Here are the key features new to the service:
  • a mini TV screen, so viewers can browse the guide without interrupting the programme being watched
  • a now, next, later banner that displays full data about forthcoming programmes in the next 12 hours on any channel
  • the ability to record and series stack without going to the planner
  • a grouping of stacked series in the planner so that all recorded episodes are displayed together
  • an improved search feature that includes genre and sub-genre filters.
Of these, only the last one is really lacking from the V+ - genre categories not featuring at all on Virgin.
I've always prefered the colour scheme of the Sky planner but it does feel extremely dated compared to Virgin's. It'll be interesting to see if it performs any faster than the V+ software, and if it's bug-free; Sky of late have had some issues in quality assurance.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hopefully I'll find out which is best tomorrow - after 9 years with first NTL then virginmedia I have Sky HD being installed tomorrow. We're keeping the V+ (just dropping to the medium TV package) because at £5 a month it's cheaper than sky multi-room so I'll see which I like best.

tvsersity said...

I always thought the Virgin EPG was shockingly poor. It seems to have been styled on a BBC Micro from the 1980s, runs about 10x slower than a BBC Micro, and is organised in an incredibly unintuitive and ugly way. Every operation is agonisingly slow to complete, and who on earth designs an interface to be based exclusively on an ugly upscaled low-res white font on a black background with no icons, thumbnails, or any visuals to speak of?

Look at the UI on an Apple TV or an Xbox 360. That's how you design a modern interface for a modern platform.

demented said...

Because of the mini guide and PiP I prefer VMs EPG (yeah I'm crazy). Getting a HD EPG and those features firmly puts sky ahead in my books. The sky EPG is quicker but is so blocky and unclear.

I'd hope it's faster/more stable. The standard EPG on Sky HD boxes slows down over time. It's still not as slow as virgins but there's still a big room for improvement in there.

Anonymous said...

VM does have a record by genre option - it just doesn't really work.

Carol Steele said...

One hidden gem of the new epg which has just been discovered is that folk with the new EPG can now get ITV HD, see http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=997287&page=154 and pages from 2 pages before that for confirmation

Can't wait for it to be activated on my STB now :)

Nialli said...

Just gets better and better for Sky HD customers. Meanwhile, VirginMedia are on Twitter promising more HD services are "coming soon"...

Carol Steele said...

Now where have I heard that before ............... wait, it was in July 2007 when I signed up for my VIP package. Still waiting after 18 months for another linear HD channel to appear - and they are still promising "coming soon", but it depends on the time scale it is being used in, "coming soon" on a geological time scale could mean sometime in the next 10,000 years ;)

Dee4leeds said...

Anyone else feel the new Sky EPG looks like a cheap Freeview EPG?

Nialli said...

Some Freeview EPGs are pretty good.
Personally, I have no problems with the V+ EPG. I'm not crazy about the colour scheme, but that's a minor quibble, and my family find their way around it with ease. I think a lot of people complain about it because they're familiar with the old Sky one (which I find clunky and illogical) - it's not that bad.

Anonymous said...

ughhhghg... Just got this and its horrific..
Slow, not as much information on the page and completely annoying.

suesteve13 said...

am thinking of changing to Virgin HD but am torn as i really like the New Sky EPG. Can anyone please tell me what Sky can do that Virgin can;t or vice versa

Nialli said...

If you have Sky HD you will be seriously disappointed as there's very little HD on Virgin (just BBC HD and some on demand stuff detailed on the front page of this blog). Stick with Sky HD