If you have bought a HDTV and been complaining about the lack of high definition content from Astro, hold on to your horses because the company is set to introduce its HD service by the end of the year.
The company has been quietly upgrading its infrastructure, from cameras to launching the Measat 3A satellite, and is ready to roll out HD programming on its satellite network, said Paul Dale, Astro’s chief technology officer.
The HD channels that are going to be launched will be in 1080i. However, not all channels will be available in HD.
The first phase of the rollout will include popular channels, namely sports, documentaries and movie channels with more to come in the near future.
Details on the particular channels that will go HD will only be available at the launch date but it’s a given that the National Geographic and ESPN channels will be available in HD.
Local programming in HD is currently in the second phase of the plan and Astro is currently in the process of upgrading video cameras and other equipment.
To receive HD broadcast, consumers will be required to upgrade their TVs to HDTVs as well as change the current set-top box and satellite dish.
On top of the HD broadcasts, Astro is also working on a number of new services including a revamped channel guide and other new features.
The new set-top box will have a HDMI connection, composite outputs, Ethernet port, an USB port and even a digital audio output for 5.1-channel surround sound audio.
The Ethernet port on the set-top box even allows for the delivery of the video channels via the wired broadband connection although this, again, is in a future phase.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the new set-top box is that it comes with a high speed USB port so that you can connect any external hard disk to turn receiver into a digital recorder.
You can’t distribute the video on the hard disk though as each programme recorded is protected by DRM, so that it can only be viewed using the set-top box.
However, the video recording feature will not be available in the first stage of the rollout and will be enabled in a future firmware update.
The official consumer launch will be before the year-end.