After some months of procrastination, we’ve finally gotten around to getting ourselves a HubStation. StarHub markets the HubStation as a 3-in-1 device that lets you watch TV, surf the Internet and make phone calls. Actually, it’s main feature is really about TV, in particular its DVR and interactive TV functions. At the risk of sounding so ‘suaku’, the DVR and interactive TV are really cool. (Yah, no DVR at home until now… other than the one plugged in my PC.)
My wife and I have been wanting some kind of recording capability for some time, because we don’t have any VCR or DVR at home, so all our TV watching has to be in realtime. This is really inconvenient, of course, and so we ended up missing lots of programmes.
StarHub used to actively promote the HubStation. Depending on the contract, you could get the HubStation for free, or you could pay about $197 to own the box. Nowadays, it seems StarHub is neglecting their cable TV customers. There are no offers or promotions for the HubStation anymore. Now, I’ve got to pay $8.56 a month to rent the box. The good thing is that there is no contract. The bad thing is, after 24 months, I would have paid over $200 in rental, and with that amount of money, I could already have owned the box.
The HubStation is a revolution in watching TV. You can pause real-time live TV, so you can take a phone call and not miss anything on TV. You can rewind real-time live TV, so you can replay something you missed. You can browse and choose what shows to record from an online programme guide. Gone are the days of programming separate DVRs or VCRs where you either wind up setting the wrong time, the wrong day, or the wrong channel. The online programme guide is also convenient, it gives you a synopsis, running time, and other useful information.
Of course, this is not like a startling revelation to me. I know what interactive can do. I know what the HubStation can do. It’s just strange why we didn’t get it sooner.
The picture quality I get from my TV is now better with the HubStation. This is probably the benefit of moving to digital TV signals (as opposed to the RF analog signal previously). Oddly, the audio level is significantly lower. While the audio level as OK with my TV volume set at 19 previously, I now have to bring it up to 25. That is even with the HubStation’s volume max’ed out.
The other 2 of the “3-in-1” features of the HubStation are uninteresting. You get free unlimited use of 1Mbps bandwidth broadband Internet access. There is no upgrade plans available for the HubStation. So, if 1Mbps is not enough (and it probably isn’t enough for most people), you’re going to need another broadband Internet access anyway, so having the 1Mbps on the HubStation isn’t very useful. To use the phone functions on the HubStation… well, you need an IAD, and also you need to pay for the feature. Sounds like a fine print designed to catch you unaware and get you to pay more.