So you have took the brave step of leaving Sky. If you haven’t yet and you want too, have a look at my previous post regarding ‘Cancelling Sky TB – the painless way’.
This post is about what to do once your months notice period is up, and your Sky Box loses its content and what you can then do…..
Well firstly, your box will revert to a Freeview box and retain most of the Freeview channels, you no doubt have seen them and know whats available.
Which isn’t a problem, as if you cancelled Sky – like me, because you didn’t believe it was value for money, then the common alternative is Freeview.
The issue with the Sky Box is this; once your 31 days notice is up. The Sky box locks any recordings in your library and looses not only the Sky channels (obviously) but the ability to record and playback aswell.
WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? Can they do this? You might ask, after all don’t I own the box following my ended contract? Yes you do. But Sky deem the recording/playback facilities as a “service” and once you quit, you lose it.
Besides it was in the small print on the contract that we all blindly signed when we got excited about HD, Premiership footie and movies.
However, it doesn’t make it morally right though for Sky to hold you over a barrel – though, regarding your equipment. But they do – the greedy bastards!
They do allow, for £10 a month subscription – for the recording facilities to be kept/turned back on for Freeview recording only. But no one with any sense should actually do this, as it would cost £120 pounds a year. Besides, there are a range of decent recordable Freeview PVR’s out there like Humax and Panasonic, which could be acquired for a one off purchase.
Or, you could sell your soul back to the Murdoch’s and join again as a new customer but we have just left for a reason (usually cost) and don’t want another year, stuck in an overly-expensive contract.
So is there anyway around this switch off? After all, how does Sky turn your subscriptions on and off?
Well there isn’t alot of confirmed facts out there, as Sky protect their brand and patents fiercely. But what we do know, is that Sky send signals to your box – not using the phone line connector, or the network cable but by sending signals to your subscription viewing card – through your satellite dish.
This is how they turn on your movies or turn off your Sport’s subscription, etc. Its also how they turn off your Sky package when you cancel.
Now, as the Sky box still outputs most of the Freeview mix without the Sky viewing card inserted (really), there exists a theory that you can retain the recording facilities on a Freeview Sky box by doing the following. [It works on the HD boxes but its a work in progress. It has, been confirmed for a few years as workable on the older Sky Pace boxes with the older blue and yellow viewng cards.]
Back to the newer HD box. On the day of switch off, following the 31 days notice period, Sky sends a ‘kill signal’ to your box and then regularly for either 3 or 6 months.
So the theory is – that if you remove the viewing card from the slot and keep it safe for either 3 or 6 months, (no one is entirely sure which!) – then you avoid the kill signal and when you plug the card back in, the recording facilities are retained.
Unfortunately, this workaround will not save your previous Sky TV subs. As once plugged in, the card rechecks its current level of subscription and knows Sky isn’t being subscribed to, so removes the Sky channels instantly
The idea of this workaround is to avoid the recording kill signal which is limited. (Remember SKY can’t send it forever!).
For me, the Freeview PVR’s are a still a tad too pricey – ( but no more expensive than a Sky HD box!), hence this stab at recycling the Sky box which is still a quality piece of kit – regardless.
But for a one time outlay (if you have the money), it can still make money sense to just stump for a Freeview PVR as you have your Freeview recording facilities guaranteed. I like the Sky box though, the EPG and even the control so its worth a punt.
Finally, its worth saying, that firmware hacks and resoldering the newer boxes are still pie in the sky and it is testament somewhat to the boxes themselves that no one has reported how to successfully chip one – yet.
Remember, believe There’s Better THAN SKY!
Update – So, it has worked – but not as expected!!?!
Firstly, I put my white card back in 3 months after TV switchoff (this was the card taken out just before switchoff!) and it didn’t work at all with the planner or recording facilities.
It’s odd that the newer white card stopped working, even though it hasn’t physically been in the SKY box for 3 months. It was removed just before switchoff and then put back in for only 10 minutes whilst I tested it, 3 months later.
I can only assume its somehow been disabled by SKY within the 10 mins of being put back in (and then out of) the machine (no planner access, recording – nothing!).
In desperation, I then tried my old blue and yellow card (which I saved when I got the newer white card) and it has reactivated all of the recording features and (non-Sky) saved recordings in my planner. Its worked for the last 6 months and its still working as of Jul 2014!
This is completely unexpected and not what I thought would happen. Unless the blue and yellow card is preventing deactivation this due to having a different serial number, maybe?
This needs some more investigation, specifically, does changing the card over before switchoff to an older card stop the killsignal somehow? Or does it still even need 3-6 months removed from the box? If anyone has any further ideas, let me know?
In summary you can have a freeview Sky box but you need an older blue and yellow card!