The HyppTV IPTV service runs on its own dedicated network. For IPTV, TM has allotted 8Mbps of bandwidth which is good enough for HD streaming and more than enough for SD streaming.
There are currently 22 channels with more channels to come by the end of the year. Out of these channels, only 2 channels are in HD.
Channels are classified into three — Live TV, Video On Demand (VOD) and inter@ctive.
Live TV includes local and international broadcast channels. Local channels include free-to-air channels like TV1, TV2, TV3, NTV7, 8TV, TV9, etc. Some of the international channels include Australia Network, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Knowledge, Fashion TV HD, LUXE.TV HD, Star Chinese Channel, etc. Some of these channels are Premium channels.
Come September 2010, for VIP5 and VIP10 customers, a separate subscription will be required for Premium channels. For VIP20 customers, the Premium channels will be part of the package.
In VOD or pay-per-view if you like, there’s a selection of Hollywood, Malay, Chinese as well as Bollywood titles.
Movies typically have a validity of 24 hours. Within that 24 hours you can watch the movie as many number of times as you like.
One of the highlights in the VOD offering is the Hollywood Premiere Series; this selection contains the latest TV series — available 24 hours after the US release.
For TV series, validity is typically 30 days or longer.
For some titles, free previews or trailers are available on demand. Purchasing a VOD title is easy; just select the title from the on-screen VOD catalog (see above) and enter a PIN. During this preview period, TM is giving out free trial tokens.
Once purchased, the title is ready to be watched immediately or anytime within the validity period.
For VOD, playback control is available i.e. pause, fast-forward, reverse and bookmarking.
There’s even an option to rate a title. The average rating for a title is displayed in the on-screen VOD catalog.
inter@ctive channels include flight info, Malaysian history, Malaysian football and games (see below). I understand more interactive services will be added on later. Can we expect a YouTube channel? That would be nice isn’t it?
IPTV Video Quality
In general, the colors from IPTV seem more vivid compared to the colors from Astro — at least on an SDTV. HD channels will still play on an SDTV but the aspect ratio need to be manually adjusted.
Though UniFi’s IPTV service is not affected by the rain as in Astro, occasionally, there’ll be those nasty picture artifacts similar to Astro. Nevertheless, those artifacts often disappear fast enough before becoming annoying. Note that I’m using HomePlugs for my IPTV setup. A wired network connection to the IPTV may give better experience.
Switching between channels is almost instantaneous but I’ve observed some stuttering in the first few seconds after a channel switch — possibly due to buffering?
There’s also Picture-in-Picture (PIP) (see below).
To view IPTV on the television set, all equipment necessary to support IPTV like the fiber broadband termination unit, residential gateway and set-top box (STB) must be turned on. If HomePlugs are used in an IPTV setup, that must be switched on too. So, as you can see, should any of the equipment fail, IPTV won’t work!
To add to the concern, the residential gateway (DLink DIR-615) provided by TM has been reported to be very fragile; it tends to get fried.
I’ve placed the gateway unit on a heat sink and hooked it to a surge-protected electrical socket as one of the measures to add more robustness to the whole setup.
Is HyppTV another Astro?
Well, one of the inevitable questions is whether TM’s new IPTV service is a worthy replacement of Astro.
At least for now, I don’t think so. Content is a bit limited at the moment though there are channel overlaps. However, things might change in the future!