23 February 2006

StarHub to commence initial launch of its Digital Video Recorder set-top box

Singapore, 23 February 2006 - TV viewing experience in Singapore will never be the same again, with the introduction of StarHub’s latest offering to its cable TV customers. StarHub announced today that it will soon commence the initial launch of Smart TV, a new service which enables users to record their favourite TV programmes conveniently with just a single click on the remote control. In this way Smart TV allows our customers to “time shift” and have control over when TV programmes are viewed, instead of being restricted by schedules set by broadcasters. The time-shifting element provides users with the ability to pause, replay, reverse and fast-forward, even in the midst of viewing a ‘live’ TV broadcast.  To enjoy Smart TV, existing cable TV customers simply need to own StarHub's new Digital Video Recorder (DVR) set-top box, which has a hard-disk recording capacity of 60 hours.

StarHub’s DVR set-top box is also a two-way interactive device with an inbuilt cable modem for interactivity. The unit has a high-capacity hard disk that will allow cable TV customers to record and store their favourite programmes, and watch them whenever they want and as many times as they wish.  Recording a programme or movie is simple, as Smart TV is integrated with StarHub's On-screen TV Guide.

"Cable TV customers using Smart TV can enjoy complete control over their own TV viewing. They no longer need to plan their activities around TV schedules since recordings can be easily preset well in advance, and they can view each recording anytime they choose, and as many times as they wish. Smart TV will also enable viewers to pause and instantly replay any scene, even while watching 'live' TV. So if you want to see a replay of a great goal, or if Mum calls and you need to answer the phone while watching your favourite programme, you simply pause, finish the call and then pick up watching right where you left off. You will never again have to miss a scene,” said Mike Reynolds, Head of Commercial, StarHub.

The key Smart TV features that will be available at time of the exclusive launch include:

•  Recording Functions: Smart TV users can choose between instantaneous, time-based and show-based recordings. All scheduled recordings will be displayed prominently on a Recording Schedule for easy reference. The DVR set-top box will automatically perform checks on the disk space availability and any recording conflicts of scheduled recordings.

•  Easy Recording Via On-Screen TV Guide:  Smart TV is fully integrated with the StarHub Digital Cable On-screen TV Guide. An on-screen interface offers a simple and convenient way of recording TV programmes in advance. Users simply have to locate their favourite TV shows through the guide and press the record button. The DVR set-top box is smart enough to automatically record only the show or movie you want. TV viewers no longer have to go through the confusing experience of setting timers and channels on their recording devices.

•  Control ‘Live’ TV: Users can enjoy unprecedented instant replays of 'live' TV by choosing to rewind, fast-forward, slow-motion or freeze elapsed clips. They can also pause the show they are viewing, and return later to pick up from where they have left off.

•  Second Channel Recording: Users can watch one channel while recording another channel.

•  60 Hours Of Hard-disk Recording: The DVR set-top box saves all chosen shows in its inbuilt hard-drive, negating the need to purchase other equipment. It also eliminates the problem of incomplete recordings when the videotape runs out before the programme ends, as the DVR set-top box has a recording capacity of 60 hours. When a saved programme is no longer needed, it can be deleted to make room for new recordings.

•  Easy Navigation: Smart TV’s user-friendly interface allows users to locate their favourite recordings easily.

•  Parental Lock: Parents have the option to control what their children watch by activating the parental lock feature on the cable channels and the content recorded via Smart TV.

“We are very excited about the launch of Smart TV. The DVR deployed for Smart TV will be Singapore’s first two-way interactive set-top box and its possibilities are endless,” Mr Reynolds enthused. “It's not just about what you watch, but also when you watch it. Smart TV, together with Demand TV and our time shift channels VV Drama (+3) and E City (+2), reaffirms our commitment to empower our customers with greater flexibility in 'when' they would like to watch their favourite TV programmes. We will continue to introduce more features and applications to Smart TV to make the service even more compelling and beneficial for our customers.”

Future Smart TV features and applications that will be introduced at a later stage include setting the DVR set-top box to record multiple episodes or even an entire season of a TV series, and record multiple programmes simultaneously. The interactive features will allow customers to chat with other viewers, make Demand TV purchases, send SMSes to other StarHub Mobile users, and even check emails via the TV set and remote control.  Smart TV users will enjoy free software upgrades whenever StarHub introduces enhancements to the service.

Smart TV will initially be made available to approximately 500 cable TV customers in order for StarHub to solicit feedback from customers on their user experience and help define future enhancements.  From 27 February 2006, all cable TV customers who are interested to experience Smart TV can visit www.smarttv.com.sg to participate in an online questionnaire to stand a chance to be one of the first Smart TV users.

Full commercial launch of Smart TV is planned for the second quarter of this year. Smart TV is only available to StarHub’s cable TV customers.  Prices for the purchase of the Smart TV DVR set-top box will be announced at a later date, but will be attractive when compared with current digital video recorders available on the market, plus it has the added benefits of integration with StarHub’s On-screen TV Guide, interactivity and ease of use.  A monthly Smart TV service fee of $5 ($5.25 with GST) is also applicable.

Customers participating in the initial launch will be able to purchase the DVR set-top box at a special price, and will also enjoy a waiver of the monthly service fee during the initial launch period.

StarHub is working with three technology partners to develop Smart TV. They are Thomson Broadcast & Media Solutions, OpenTV and Nagravision S.A. (A Kudelski Group). Thomson and OpenTV will respectively provide the set-top box and middleware, while Nagravision will provide an advanced security conditional access system and overall system integration.