New EPG for Sky HD

sky+hdSky will download a new version of its electronic programme guide to Sky HD receivers this Autumn. The new guide, for which plans were first made public last November, has been in development for two years and is currently undergoing a field trial in the homes of 100 Sky employees.
The new EPG is designed to build on the simple user interface currently used across all Sky receivers with optimisations designed to take advantage of the technological improvements made possible by the newer hardware in HD receivers and make the transition from linear viewing and planner-driven time shifted viewing more seamless.

The new guide, currently version 7.16.2, is presented entirely in high definition and uses a mini database on the receiver, which is populated upon bootup and then continually refreshed with new EPG data, to overcome certain limitations with the existing guide such as enabling the presentation of full now, next, later programme details irrespective of the currently selected channel.

The use of the mini database allows viewers to view full information for any programme airing in the next 12 hours just on the now and next banner, alleviating the need to go into the guide.
When in the full guide, an optional 1/8th-size mini TV screen permits viewers to continue watching the currently selected programme while browsing programme information from any channel. An improved search feature contains filters by genre and subgenre and permits the input of long programme titles to more effectively search by show.

Recording and series linking can now be done from the guide or now and next banner, without the need to go into the planner. Series stacking, an entirely new feature, groups recorded programmes and search results by show, and is designed to make browsing the planner easier when a large number of episodes of the same show have been recorded.

Brian Sullivan, managing director of Sky’s customer group, said: “The HD Sky Guide will make our best TV product even better. Because we believe in giving customers as much choice, control and flexibility as possible, we want to provide an easy way for them to find, store and watch the programmes they love. This is truly an EPG for the HD era.”
A large field test, in which the new EPG will be downloaded to the boxes of 1000 Sky employees, will start shortly. Full rollout to customer boxes will take place in the Autumn, although Sky is already downloading a “housekeeping” update to Sky HD boxes to ready them for the new guide.

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