Experiencing Tata Sky’s 4K Broadcast

This past Sunday, I attended a special screening of the India vs. South Africa match from the ongoing Cricket World Cup 2015 in glorious 4K. The screening was arranged by Tata Sky for the Media to showcase their UHD 4K set-top-boxes that the company recently started offering its customers. The screening was held at Olive Bar & Kitchen and I accompanied Prasad to this event. India did end up winning the game and it was a lot of fun to watch the game in 4K. Here are some thoughts about the whole experience.

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Before I begin, I should mention that I have been a Tata Sky customer for about nine years now. At home, I currently have a Tata Sky+ HD set-top-box as my primary connection and a regular Tata Sky HD STB as the secondary “multi-tv” connection. I was looking forward to experiencing their 4K offering not just as a early-adopter geek, but also as a regular customer of theirs.

At the screening, there were two Sony Bravia 79” 4K TVs set up for the viewers (KD-79X9000B), one indoor and one outside. Unfortunately, both the TVs had only a single speaker connected to them, which I thought was an odd choice considering the 5.1 sound is part of the whole experience.

The picture quality of the broadcast was just about how I’d expected it to be. The picture was crisp and you could easily tell the difference between a 1080p 1080i broadcast and the 4K broadcast. The latter is also completely ad-free. Just like when HD channels were introduced by DTH operators, the Star Sports 4K channel does not have any ads at all and during the ad-breaks for SD/HD channels, there are replays shown here instead. It’s interesting to see what goes on on the field during the drinks break or even the Innings break.

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Star Sports 4K is the only 4K channel currently active, so the rest of your channels are all displaying 1080i content on a 4K display.

Tata Sky has priced their UHD 4K set-top-box, officially called “Tata Sky 4K” at Rs. 6400 for new customers or Rs. 5900 for existing customers. I was disappointed with this box for a few reasons. First, if you’re upgrading from a Tata Sky+ HD connection, you lose all the “plus” features. For example, on the UHD 4K box, you cannot record, rewind, pause, schedule at all. Not just the 4K channels, but any channel. You can get the UHD 4K STB as an addon (Multi TV connection) and continue using these features on your existing Tata Sky+ HD STB, but it’ll unnecessarily cost you an additional INR 200/month.

Additionally, it was also disappointing to see that Tata Sky haven’t updated their On Screen Display (OSD) on the UHD 4K STB. So the text for the menu, program guide and channel info is all blurry and jagged on your grandiose 4K television.

The sound on the 4K channel was also very low compared to the other channels, so whenever you change channels, god bless your ears.

For the India vs. South Africa game, ICC’s official broadcaster is Star Sports and they have 4K cameras on the field to record the action live. Star Sports also have a dedicated 4K channel for this broadcast, available on Channel No. 400 on Tata Sky. This channel will telecast seven matches from the World Cup, 4 of which will be India’s matches and the remaining 3 will be Semi-Finals and the Final. Apart from this, a consumer can enjoy content from the Discovery channel in 4K and I was told that additional content was coming soon.

Overall, it really doesn’t make sense to jump onto the 4K bandwagon just yet. There’s almost no content for you to enjoy right now. Of course, if you’re super rich and/or have already invested in a 4K television for some reason, then spending 6k more on a service that does give you a 4K stream is a no-brainer. If you have a HD TV, I do recommend a Tata Sky+ HD connection though.

Amazon eyeing majority stake in logistic firm Blue Dart

Ashwin Mohan:

US giant Amazon is learnt to be in preliminary talks to acquire a majority stake in leading courier and integrated express package distribution company Blue Dart, sources privy to ongoing discussions told ET NOW.

Twitter Buys Messaging Startup ZipDial, Expands in India

We’re very pleased to announce we’ve reached an agreement to acquire ZipDial (@zipdial), a product partner based in Bangalore, India, to make Twitter even more accessible to people around the world.

This acquisition significantly increases our investment in India, one of the countries where we’re seeing great growth, and also brings us a new engineering office in Bangalore.

Interesting & obvious move by Twitter.

Google Is Working on Investing Billions In SpaceX

Jessica Lessin on The Information:

The purpose of a deal, which is still in the works, is to support the development of SpaceX satellites that could beam low-cost Internet around the globe to billions who don’t have it.

[…] Google has agreed to value SpaceX north of $10 billion and that the size of the total round, which includes other investors, is very large.

Tiny satellites powering internet for billions of people sounds awesome.

Twelve South’s SurfacePad for iPhone 6

surfacepad-iphone6

Twelve South, makers of some of my favorite accessories for Mac & iOS, today announced the SurfacePad for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The SurfacePad is a premium quality leather jacket of sorts for your iPhone. It’s designed to be super light and super thin, so it doesn’t add a bulk of mass to your iPhone. It covers both the front & back of your iPhone and includes pockets for two cards on the inside-front, so you can store your credit card or ID card there. It also works as a quick, hands-free display stand when you want to watch a video or movie with friends.

Over the years, Twelve South have released some of the most beautiful, premium class accessories for Mac & iOS devices and each of their products is just as good as the others. I personally own a BackPack for iMac, HiRise for iMac and BookArc for MacBook Pro. I’ve been wanting to get the HiRise Dock for my iPhone for a while now, but the high shipping costs to India aren’t helpful at all.

SurfacePad for iPhone 6 costs $39.99 while the iPhone 6 Plus version costs $49.99. Both are available for purchase directly from Twelve South or from Amazon.

Google Introduces Voice Calls from Hangouts in India

Google has announced a new feature that will be available via the Hangouts app available for iOS and Android devices. Users will now be able to make international voice calls to phone numbers outside of India.

Using the Hangouts app for iOS (App Store Link) and Android (Google Play Link) as well as the web, users will now be able to make free calls to phone numbers in the US and Canada as well as to any other Hangouts users. Calls to any other regions are charged, but at really low rates.

This feature will be welcomed by millions of people in the country who most likely have a family member, friend or a relative currently living in US or Canada. Additionally, with the launch of Android One handsets in the country, Google is already pushing Android to the masses.

New 2014 Mac Mini Has Soldered RAM, Not User Replaceable

Juli Clover writing on Mac Rumors:

Many have speculated that the Mac mini also includes soldered RAM, which has now been confirmed by Macminicolo’s Brian Stucki. According to Stucki, the RAM in the Mac mini is “not user accessible,” which means those who purchase Mac minis are limited to 16GB of RAM that must be upgraded when purchasing the machine from Apple.

All three Mac mini models can be upgraded to a maximum of 16GB of RAM, with the upgrade priced at $300 for the base model and $200 for the mid and high-end models.

The Mac mini was not only an excellent choice as an entry-level desktop Mac, but it also worked as a great upgrade-later machine. I’ve recommended the Mac mini to many of my friends who bought it as their first Mac and went on to upgrade the RAM & HDD after purchase.

Now, not only can you not do any upgrades after purchase, but you can’t even order configurable options in India, so you’re stuck with the three standard models as your choices.

How App Store’s ‘Complete My Bundle’ Pricing Works

Panic’s Cabel Sasser clears the mystery around the pricing of the ‘Complete My Bundle’ option on the App Store.

Complete My Bundle takes whatever money you’ve paid for the individual apps and applies that towards the bundle’s fixed price. So, if you buy an app on sale, or use a promo code, your Complete My Bundle price can be different than someone else’s, and in some situations it might be cheaper to buy the remaining app(s) individually.