Episode 05 of the Waditech Podcast is out today where the big topic is about TVs. We chat about the launch of 9 TVs on a single day by Thompson, Hisense’s long-anticipated entry into the Indian TV market and Ameya shares his thoughts on how to choose the right TV for your home.

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.


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.


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.

Free Apple TV with Tata Docomo Broadband

Tata Docomo’s Broadband services are currently offering a Free Apple TV with every yearly subscription to any of their “Lightning Plans”. These are their broadband plan offerings with download speeds ranging from 20Mbps to 100Mbps and the offer is applicable only for Karnataka, Mumbai, Maharashtra & Goa circles.

The minimum monthly rental for these plans is Rs. 2199, so you’d be shelling out Rs. 26,388 + taxes upfront for this offer.

Two Weeks with the Vu SuperMac TV

Back in January, I wrote about the Vu SuperMac TV by Vu Technologies. The company claims it to be the first “Apple based TV” in the world and rightly so — it’s a TV with an actual Mac mini inside it. When you power it on, the Mac boots into OS X and is available as one of the sources. You can use it as a standard Mac. Technically, it’s a giant screen attached to a Mac mini. However, Vu Technologies actually bundle and integrate the insides of the Mac mini into the back of the TV, so the TV is as slim as it can be.


The Vu SuperMac TV — The Largest Apple based TV in the World

Late last month, I received a press release from Vu, introducing the first "Apple-based TV" in the world. Vu has been selling TVs in the market for a while now, but this was the first time I was receiving a proper press release from them for a TV with "built-in Mac". Reading about it, I was obviously curious & intrigued. I got in touch with the company and a demo of the product was arranged for me at their Mumbai office.


‘Bout Time Apple TV Stopped Being a Hobby

This is a guest post by my buddy & fellow Apple enthusiast, Rohan Naravane.

Over the years, Apple’s current and former CEO have been quoted referring to Apple TV as a “hobby” for the consumer electronics giant. Apple TV, if you don’t know already, is a tiny box that connects to your television and can stream audio-visual content from the iTunes store and can also mirror your Apple iOS devices and Macs wirelessly. It is a worthy buy for a 100 dollars if you’re one with the Apple ecosystem, but is brimming with potential to do a lot more. Right now, rumours afloat suggest Apple making deals to serve more variety of content and will announce them on the 22nd October event. That’s nice and all, but I’d rather have something that was universally applicable — not just the US. And like any informed customer, I will tend to look at what else is available for $99 and whether those devices will serve my needs better.

For that price, there’s Ouya — an Android-based game microconsole that has gotten average reviews and the PlayStation Vita TV — which isn’t available in all regions yet. Nonetheless, they both have things that I’d want out of my $99 TV box. Ouya’s games store also features apps like Plex that I love so dearly; as content from the Plex Media Server (i.e. my computer) is automatically transcoded and streamed over-the-air to the receiver device. Imagine your entire movie and TV show library; instantly playable on your television while your computer sits in the other room. Plex does it beautifully too — pulling artwork, synopsis, ratings and showing details about the source file. Then there’s the PS Vita TV that brings titles from Sony’s popular handheld console to the big screen (to be played with a separately purchasable Bluetooth Controller).

I can’t wait for Apple to unlock the greater potential of the Apple TV that could possibly unlock many of these functionalities. Although Apple TV’s software is based on iOS, there’s no app store like other iOS devices. Having one would enable Plex and a million other apps to flex the function of the Apple TV beyond what Apple offers out-of-the-box. And speaking of hardware, it would probably need a beefier chip than its current ageing single-core A5 chip to run modern day apps and games well. Lastly, Apple has already introduced Bluetooth controller support with iOS 7. With this support extended to Apple TV, a typical wireless controller will serve a new way to experience those fantastic iOS-based games on the big screen.

It feels like we’re almost there; to a point where it is getting irritating as we wait for Apple to push this product to the next level. To my disappointment, it is unlikely that Apple will announce a majorly overhauled Apple TV product tomorrow. Maybe they’re taking their time because one big piece of the puzzle is yet unsolved — the User Interface. Currently, because of its simplicity the Apple TV is usable via the bundled IR remote or the barebones Remote app on an iOS device. But bringing the App Store may require a sea change to the current form of user interaction. There are rumours of Apple trying the gesture-based interactivity like the one possible with Xbox 360’s Kinect accessory. Whatever the method, it could finally reveal a part of what Steve Jobs had told Walter Isaacson in his biography about Televisions and its User Interface — “I finally cracked it.”

Rohan Naravane manages the content for PriceBaba.com. He is usually found rambling tech on Twitter @r0han.

STAR Becomes IPL’s Associate Sponsor

But STAR’s gain could be pain for rival network Multi Screen Media (MSM), which operates the flagship Sony Entertainment channel, besides SET Max and Sony SIX. Sony competes directly with STAR Plus, which is the market leader in the Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) space.

Associate sponsorship, for which STAR is expected to fork out around Rs 30 crore, would mean the STAR brand would be a prominent feature during telecast of the matches on two of MSM’s channels. STAR will also have a strong on-ground presence, and MSM cannot blur the competitor’s logo.

This is like Google becoming a sponsor on Apple’s App Store and Apple having to display the Android logo all over the place. This is STAR effectively “trolling” Sony.