Wednesday, 2 November 2005

Keeping Pace

For the past two years I have taken up sky's "come back" at 1/2 price for 3 months offer. This year is no exception. The holidays are the ideal time to view movies missed at the cinema and Mum benefits from the seasonal Disney offerings, which are copied to removable media for transfer to her nursing home.

Within hours of reactivating the subscription, the sky+ HDD failed (see earlier service diatribes). The reconditioned Pace box was outside its warranty (March 2004) and I may have been facing a costly callout and installation charge of up to £199! However, the customer care representative was genial and arranged a replacement (gratis).

An Amstrad DRX180 (40GB). Not my first choice by any means, but given that sky was under no legal obligation to make such a generous offer I accepted. The contractor cleary had no intention of making sure that the viewing card matched my box and erroneously suggested that I call sky to request a new card - the existing one was faulty! D'oh! I called their customer care number; filed a complaint against the contractor (quoting the job number) and was recording my first programme within minutes! There's a moral to this story...

The new box is slimmer, quieter and doesn't look too shabby. Yet, it's far less responsive than the first generation Pace! Has Amstrad heard of MHz processors? Because it would be churlish to complain and request another box (akin to playing Russian Roulette), I searched eBay and discovered Simply Digital's shop. The prices listed are significantly cheaper than their own brand site and P&P is free (Parcel Force 24). Never one to ignore a bargain I've ordered a Pace TDS470N (160GB) £149.00 with free quad LNB. The same product normally costs £172.95. A sweet deal in any currency. In-depth review to follow.