There are already so many varieties of Set Top Boxes (STB) to chose from. Starting with the normal standard definition (SD) STB, SD STB with recording facility (although most companies have retired this variety now), then HD STB and finally HD STB with recording facility. When I say recording facility, it also includes the features such as Live pause and rewind.
Now there is another category that is popping up. First we saw this with Dish+ DTH and now even Airtel Digital TV has introduced these STB’s. These are HD Set Top Boxes which doesn’t have any build in memory to record programs but one can use their own storage mediums, such as Pen drives to record the programs.
In airtel Digital TV, this Set Top Box is called Airtel HD+ (HD Plus) and is virtually the same as normal HD STB without the recording feature. One needs to enable the Plus feature (which enables recording) after the installation is complete. But note that the Plus feature requires a separate subscription charge of Rs.25 per month.
One advantage of using Airtel HD+ instead of HD Recorder (which has build in memory) is that you can get unlimited recordings without the need to delete existing recording to accommodate new ones. Also, the upfront cost is much less for HD+ compared to HD recorder.
Currently airtel recorder has 500GB memory on board which is estimated to hold up to 750 hours of recordings. Also, this set top box costs Rs.7000 for a new buyer where an Airtel HD+ is just Rs.3300 for a new buyer.
Just for the sake of calculation, a separate 1TB (2X500GB) external hard disk can be purchased for around Rs.4000. So for just Rs.300 more, you can get 1TB of space instead of just 500GB. But do remember that there’ s a subscription charge of Rs.25 per month. If this is not renewed then the Plus feature will be disabled and you’ll neither be able to record programs nor watch previously recorded programs.
Also, remember that the recorded programs cannot be viewed anywhere else (for example on a computer) but on TV via the recognized STB.
Personal Advice on Airtel HD+
You can take HD+ if you cannot put Rs.7000 upfront but definitely want Pause, rewind, recording features. You can also chose this if you are a serial recorder and think 500GB might not be enough.
Personally, as a user of HD recorder, I can tell you that 500GB (750 hrs) is a LOT of recording. It’s over 2 years that I’ve been using HD recorder and I’ve only used 45% of its capacity. Also what I observed is that I simply record things just because I can. Rarely do I watch recorded programs.
Also, HD recorder is more hassle free compared to HD+. You don’t have to take care of anything else. So if money is not a constraint, HD Recorder with built in memory should be just as good.