Foxtel Digital Service in Canberra – A subscriber’s experience

My brother has long been an enthusiast of Foxtel. Now he’s onto the new digital service. Here’s what he writes:

I booked in to get hooked up to the new interactive digital service over a month ago and it happened!!! Even on the correct day!!!

The technician was friendly and not stoned or drunk (reports of this in newsgroups). He was from Sydney. Apparently due to the strike, jobs in Canberra are being done by techs from Sydney and Melbourne. Foxtel are giving them free accomodation whilst they are here.

Installation took 2 hours, most of which was the return path [ie. the phone connection to allow interactivity – SCD]. He said that installations in the future may use a wireless return but due to technical problems, these are still some way off.

There are only two FTA channels currently available, SBS & 9 (sourced from Sydney). Only the core channel for channel 9 is provided. The SBS news channel is also available.

The unit has less outputs than the UEC [provided for the former incarnation of Foxtel – SCD]. With the SCART set to output S-Video, both SCARTs will not output composite correctly. There are not seperate settings for TV & video SCARTs as there was on the UEC. Fortunately composite is still output by the single RCA socket next to the TV SCART. I have hooked up both VCRs with double adaptors with no noticeable degredation in picture quality. I have had no problems recording off the regular service – no idea about FBO (pay per view movies) which are meant to enable macrovision.

The digital audio out is optical only, the 3.5mm phono plug will only pass analog stereo. Richard Smith has complete cables and optical adaptors to suit this connection (the adaptor is RadioShack part no. 42-9566 and cost $9.95 – a complete cable was around $30).

Using the automated channel changing function I noticed the following. If you switch the STU off via the remote, it will turn back on only for the length of the program after which it turns itself off. If you leave the STU on, it remains on after the channel change and the program has finished.

The tech confirmed that there is no printed TV guide. We will have to use the EPG or the internet. A monthly book will provided describing upcoming highlights. I think this sucks as I (formerly) plan my viewing based around the guide. I hope they change their minds and start providing a printed guide. Also there is no indication in the EPG for first run movies. I always try to watch all the first run movies each month and the printed guide has them listed in a different colour making them easy to spot.

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