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back to article Ofcom confirms three Freeview HD channels 'by end of next year'

The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 will each offer a Freeview high-definition channel over an upgraded terrestrial TV platform by the end of 2009, broadcasting regulators said today. Viewers who want to watch the new services will have to buy a new set-top box compatible with the as-yet incomplete DVB-T2 standard, and with MPEG-4. The …

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Huzzah

Well overdue!

Now... who's making DVB-T2 PCI-E cards with dual/quad tuners?

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Bronze badge

HD? 720 or 1080?

See above

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Flame

Yah boo sucks, Cockneys....

<juvenileRant>

Wayhay.... Us Mancs and Scousers, etc. are getting HD first.. Unlucky Cockneys and the rest!.... Looks like you'll have to wait for millions of years to get what were getting. Boo hoo.... I'm in tears for your plight...

</juvenileRant

ps.. Just thought that I'd be one of the first to fire up the 'twat-o-tron' on a Friday..... :)

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Anonymous Coward

why so long?

I'd be curious why it takes 2 years to roll out the upgrade. does anyone know?

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Bronze badge

Ah excellent

Soon we will be able to watch some sleb numpty attempt to dance/sing/cook in some kind of competition format in glorious HD. Plus there will no doubt be BB-HD. Can hardly wait for the standards to gel, the chips to be designed and the boxes to go on sale.

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i just wonder

how many people who bought HD ready tv's are going to be pissed off to find out that the tuner in a HD ready tv can't receive HD tv.

I wonder if it's going to be the vista capable debacle all over again, although probably not as it is the UK

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FFS

*Another* TV upgrade for those of us using integrated tuners! This is getting as bad as that flipping HD-DVD/BD format war.

I vote we get rid of all the crap on Freeview (shopping channels, etc.) that no-one watches and use the now-available bandwidth to broadcast HD over regular DVB-T Freeview.

Alternatively, the TV manufacturers should standardise around a plugin-type system for the tuners so you can *easily* pull out your existing DVB-T tuner and insert a new Freesat/DVB-T2/whatever arrives next six months later tuner in the same slot using the same aerial. Something like a PCMCIA card or USB dongle, but more discreet. That way we wouldn't be forced to buy a new TV every few years.

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Stop

Upgrade Fatigue

Thanks a lot OFCOM. The HD ready, Freeview enabled, Digital TV I bought less than 18 months ago will be obsolete before the extended warranty expires. Once upon a time people would replace their TV when it broke down. Are we now expected to replace perfectly serviceable equipment every time the latest innovation comes along? And for what - more bandwidth to make space for shopping and +1 channels? would it not make more sense to make better use of the existing bandwidth?

It's no wonder the general public are reluctant to adopt new technologies - most people don't have the spare cash to keep up with Moore's law and no one wants to end up with the next Betamax. But I forgot, OFCOM isn't there to look after the consumer.

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ITV in HD?

Really, why bother wasting electricity.

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Silver badge

high quality video for low quality programmes

Oh goody, big brother and corry and endless games-shows so you can see every detail of the participants' zits and wrinkles.

This looks like a prime example of slick packaging to disguise crap content. Let's have some decent quality programmes - ones that would actually benefit from HD, rather than warming up the same old sad old content these channels produce: day-in day-out.. Then it might be worth buying the gizmos needed to watch them - until then plain old SD is far more than good enough for their programming.

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Stop

what a waste of technology

"ITV will simulcast evening ITV1 on its Freeview HD service "

== Arse & Lard (or whatever those two Geordie muppets are called) in HD

Pah!

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@AC

The rollout coincides with when the analogue transmissions are switched off in the respective region, thereby freeing up the large amount of spectrum required for the HD services.

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well that'll be me then...

how many people who bought HD ready tv's are going to be pissed off to find out that the tuner in a HD ready tv can't receive HD tv.

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Useless

No mention of the Border region there. Though it seems safe to assume that, having had the inconvenience of being the first to have analogue turned off (without yet even having the digital signal turned on) we won't actually benefit from being the first area to have HD - the reason given for turning off analogue.

The whole digital switch-over has been a complete farce. A few months ago I got a leaflet from the Digital switch people telling me my options for digital are;

Freeview - even though there is no freeview signal yet and they aren't turning it on for months

BT Vision - Not available in our area and never will be

Virgin - Not available in our area and never will be

Sky - yep!

So, not actually a choice then. Just Digital Switchover forcing us to pay money to sky. They also told me my TV signal was coming from an Ulster transmitter that would not be getting freeview until 2012. which is not true. I get my signal from a Border transmitter - which is why I get border TV and why they were writing to me. Ulster don't switch for a few years yet. Their letter even clearly stated they were writing to me as part of the Border switchover whilst telling me I was getting Ulster TV!

They really are a bunch of useless fuck-wits.

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Anonymous Coward

that's me too Sooty

"how many people who bought HD ready tv's are going to be pissed off to find out that the tuner in a HD ready tv can't receive HD tv."

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W
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Re: ITV in HD? -Why bother.

Indeed.

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TV died over a year ago - Yay!

We lost our only TV over a year ago and have yet to replace it.

Apart from the continuous threatening "we are coming to getcha!" letters from TVlicencing life without TV is actually much better.

We have all of the programs worth watching (all repeats) on DVD and play them on the PC.

We stopped watching the news years ago and use net sites to get a more accurate view of the world (compare thereg with the rather blatantly spin driven bbc news).

As others have pointed out - TV is no longer of any real value. So someone please wake me up when they actually start broadcasting something other than couch potato fodder :-)

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@Bassey no need to pay sky

You can get freesat instead, that's already got HD and n'ery a penny goes to Mr Murdoch.

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"viewers in non-upgraded regions"

It makes no difference. The vast majority of us with HD ready TVs have already got DVB-T tuners in our TVs, so it will be watched by only the very late HD adopters who've got a DVB-T2 tuner in their telly.

They need to ask themselves why they want the new standard. To sell more spectrum to broadcasters of crap, perhaps?

It certainly isn't for the benefit of the viewers, whom I thought OFCOM was supposed to serve? After all, I don't think I'll be spending £700 on a TV again for quite a few years.

Wankers.

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Coat

moan moan

Amazing the number of complaints...

1) are you being forced to go HD freeview?

err No, so what is the problem?

2) Will your wife run away with the milkman because you will only receive corrie in low-def??

err No, so what is the problem?

3) Football in HD.. so kicking a sack of air in low-def vs kicking a sack of air in hi-def, make any difference to the outcome of the game?

err No, so what is the problem?

Buy a book,, talk to the wife and kids, look out the window.......its just TV

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Anonymous Coward

late

I've been watching HD downloads for over 5 years now. it's this wonderful thing they call the internet!

Live TV doesn't really interest me any more except for the sport.

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watch the 2010 World Cup in HD

Oh whoop-di-doo. And ITV1 in HD. It gets better!

But anyway, I've never forked out on an "HD ready" TV, just pick and choose the set-top-box/freeview PVR. And I live in the bit of Granada that is neither Manc-land, or Scouse-ville.

And it's Friday afternoon. All I need now is a new BOFH and my week is complete :)

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Have I missed something?

I may be missing something fundamental here but us freeviewers will still be receiving TV through a standard aerial to a receiver that captures the broadcast, decodes and assembles it for viewing (at least I hope that's how it will continue to work for FreeviewHD). Surely the hardware will stay the same - receiving signals on set frequencies, it's only the software that will need to change to accomodate the new standard/encoding?

I don't claim to be a broadcast hardware/software expert but this was my understanding of things, so why can't an OTA update fix the issues with integrated freeview tuners from forethinking manufacturers who allow this? My Samsung TV's integrated tuner has had more than one over the air update in it's life and a guide update to boot.

Can anyone shed light?

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Full HD rollout in the UK* by ....

... the 2012 London Olympics !!

Of course, that's the driver here.

* UK in this context means the densely populated areas and the S.East

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Re: Have I missed something?

MPEG4 is requires more powerful hardware to decode it, and existing MPEG2 tuners probably can't manage it. Even if they could, where is the impetus for the manufacture to give you a free over the air upgrade, when he can sell you a whole new telly to watch crap with more detail?

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Sorry, Gary.

In order to get more channels into less bandwidth, they are switching to MPEG4 instead of MPEG2. Which requires vastly more CPU to decode. Which means your current hardware can't cope. New boxes all round, and lots of people bullied into paying money to Murdoch. Which is OFCOM's primary goal, not doing anything for the consumer.

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Stop

What's the problem get Freesat

Just buy a set top box, the Freeview interfaces on IDTV are rubbish anyway, personally since Offcom are selling the digital dividend to the highest bidder I see Freeview as a dead museum piece with no space for expansion.

Freesat is the only viable option for free telly, HD or otherwise.

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Tim

HD on Freesat

BBC HD is excellent complete with Dolby surround. ITV HD just sits with a caption saying that service is unavailable, it was more interesting when they ran the test transmissions. So if C4 is going to Freeview, when is it going free to air on Freesat as all the other C4 output has? Some good HD output on other satellites currently.

Freeview just seems to be marginal - either you have it or you dont. And if you dont, will you ever?

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Unhappy

"More channels into less bandwidth"

At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, TV was better when we only had 4 channels! Ok that's an exaggeration but what benefits have we seen from all these extra channels? There doesn't appear to be much in the way of new, original, quality content - in fact standards have dropped as broadcasters resort to cheap, formulaic content to chase ever-decreasing advertising revenues.

OFCOM need to improve management the existing capacity by

- limiting the maximum number of channels available to any single organisation to ensure competition among braodcasters

- limiting the amount of advertising minutes, which will raise prices through supply & demand and get rid of all the ambulance chasers & loan sharks

- limiting the amount of repeats, especially on the same day (yes Dave, I'm looking at you) making space for new content

Are they still looking for applicants for head of OFCOM?

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hmm

im still waiting for itv HD to come to virgin.

bbc-hd is usually CRAP. shit like celeb come dancing etc. i mean come on, how many over 50s even know what HD is?

yet hardly any football is on HD (match of the day anyone?) robin hood, dr who etc etc - stuff like heroes in 1080i and dolby digital 5.1 do make a massive difference!

i wrote to complain about the programming at the bbc and got a decent reply - saying that it will be brought up at their next committee meating or something - maybe if we all emailed in?

ive been talkking about modular devices for 10 years now... just plug in a cube into a box to get new hardware updates etc. we just need to standardise on cabling - hdmi and usb2/3 should suffice i guess?

remember last week's england match was on itv - so would have been good in HD (footy rocks in HD) but i hardly watch anything else on ITV... c4 and bbc2 seem to be mostly watched in my house (no bb tho! :))

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Eyetv

The best tv thing I ever did was to get a large cheap display with no tuner and a mac mini with a bunch of elgato eyetv tuner sticks. When the FVHD arrives, I'll just pop in another USB tuner.

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Alert

Let's get accurate

DVB-T2 is now a finished spec and it's AVC, not MPEG4 (though MPEG adopted it as MPEG-4 part 10).

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Improve Coverage

Never mind 720 or 1080p, I'd just like to have a decent signal strength!

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Alert

DVB-T2 and MPEG4 AVC

MPEG4 AVC - Some TVs are already sold with this because there is benefit in continental Europe like France where HD is already available. Sony at least sells the same TVs here as in Europe and many models now have MPEG4 AVC (and all the new audio codecs) support but they don't advertise it in the UK due to the DVB-T2 issue. Check the www.sony.fr for those showing TNT HD and HDTV logos.

DVB-T2 - Specification is now complete but there is no silicon and tests using FGPAs and large test rigs are only just getting underway. Silicon will follow sometime but that will need design and testing too, die area will be much larger than normal DVB-T demodulators so cost will be higher. OFCOM is probably right that STBs will be available about the time of the November 2009 launch (although not long before) but IDTVs will probably follow by some months.

The question is how worthwhile is it to design equipment that will only offer a benefit in the Manchester area (same would be true for any one area before all the Northerners lynch me).

DVB-T2 should give a 50% increase in bandwidth on a multiplex for the same level of robustness. This should give 36Mbit/s instead of 24Mbit/s allowing about 4 HD channels (though pretty heavily compressed). Blu-ray has 50Mbit/s for one programme.

Of course with DVB-T HD could be launched now although OFCOM might then have less channels they can sell.

HD-Ready has always only indicated connectivity and screen resolution. It does mean it is suitable to connect an HD STB, Blu-ray player or HD games console to. HDTV is used for devices with their own HD tuner but it isn't generally used in the UK even where the TVs are eligible. See this web page for details:

http://www.eicta.org/index.php?id=731

Steve Jobs for convincing me that I don't really need a new laptop now.

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IT Angle

HD with your current HD TV

hi,

unless they go for 1080p as the res then all you people complaining about the built-in tuners have nothign to worry about - just get a settop box and your current 720p TV with builtin tuner

will be fine... I have 2 TVs with builtin and neither of them get used for freeview reception - they are just another thing inside the box that never gets used (like teletext used to be for most people! ;-) )

settop boxes allow you to do all the cool things like watch one thing whilst recording another and are reasonable cheap and replaceable unlike a TV which is at least 5 times more expensive.

if, however, they do go for 1080p - well, I'll be okay. thats what my TV is - but all those who thought HD was 720p and got sold up the stream by a sales person...well, your settop box will have to downgrade the image for you to view it.

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Freesat...

...i hope we don't get any issues with Freesat and availability of HD channels like we have at the moment with Sky/Virgin/Freesat....

But we'll see!

Now, about that Freesat PVR

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Go

Bugger that!

"Following publication of this story Ofcom got in touch to say it will shortly make an announcement on using spare spectrum as a potential way for viewers in non-upgraded regions to watch the 2010 World Cup in HD."

I am all up for F1 on BBC HD, Screw football!! It already has a HD platform on Sky, something new please for a change!

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Go

At last, some good news...

...for all those cheapskates like myself who stuck with a big old clunky CRT television!

I couldn't see why to spend a huge wodge on a flat panel when the old one still worked fine and I only had an elderly Freeview PVR and a DVD player to plug in. Hell, I still use my old VHS video on occasion!

Now there'll be a good reason to replace the PVR and the TV around the same time, after I've had a good few years' use out of both.

To all of you who rushed out to buy HD tellies the second they were available I ask: did you also rush out to buy Vista when it was shiny and new? Or did you resist 'new just for the sake of it' and allow the technology to settle down and have the bugs ironed out first?

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@Red Bren

"what benefits have we seen from all these extra channels?"

That entirely depends on who you mean by "we". OFCOM have seen revenues increase from all those additional licenses being sold. Since they exist purely to generate revenue, with no regard for consumers, they're doing their job well.

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M7S
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Unhappy

Govt confirms non HD will nott cover all of UK, so I assume HD would not either

Some of us aren't going to get all of the Freeview channels anyway after switchover (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/3228895/Digital-switch-will-discriminate-against-rural-households.html), despite boosted transmitter power etc coming about.

I would be miffed about buying a TV to do this only to get it home and find I am out of the signal area. Its not exactly the sort of thing you can check reliably before you buy, and I dont want Sky TV.

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Jobs Halo

What TV?

HD TV is fantastic. It's like a photograph coming to life in front of you... but who the hell wants to watch endless, mindless pap like Big Brother in HD. What can it possibly add?

Then there's the myriad sleb berks cooking, driving fast cars, answering dumb questions on game shows and sitting on the toilet... yuk.

The whole dumbing down of television is such a sad thing in the UK. TV here was the envy of the world, but now the gems are fewer and further between. Months go by before something worth watching appears.

I haven't watched television for over four years now. I watch DVDs and recorded documentaries/comedy/selected drama. We don't have an HD TV in our house and we're not likely to buy one for some considerable time.

I don't give a monkey's about the switch over. I'd rather go for a walk or a pint.

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Boffin

did they mis sell you a substandard HD TV,weres the UK replacement!

"i just wonder

By Sooty Posted Friday 17th October 2008 11:11 GMT

how many people who bought HD ready tv's are going to be pissed off to find out that the tuner in a HD ready tv can't receive HD tv.

"

its an interesting point ,your affordable HD TVs even today with Freeview cards internally

all use Resolution 1366 x 768 pixels, I.e 720P real res at best.

however right now the BBC are using 3x11Mbs H264 1080/50i HD video streams on their test DVB-T2 transmissions, should the TV manufctureres be forced to replace all these falsly advertised HD ready HD TVs for the real 1080I/P thing under the trade discription act etc down converting the real 1080I UK HD transmissions to this lesser non UK standard 720P HD is plainly wrong.

"The BBC are currently running the first proper live tests of DVB-T2 from a real transmitter (using BBC designed modulators and demodulators) in Guildford.

It is carrying 3x11Mbs H264 1080/50i HD video streams (using a new Thomson encoder - and delivering higher quality video than the 16.5Mbs BBC HD on DSat...) in a 36Mbs DVB-T2 mux (32k carriers and 256QAM rather than 2k/8k carriers and 16/64QAM as used by DVB-T)

"

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Anonymous Coward

the great UK PLC firesale

"@AC

By Thomas Bottrill Posted Friday 17th October 2008 11:35 GMT

The rollout coincides with when the analogue transmissions are switched off in the respective region, thereby freeing up the large amount of spectrum required for the HD services.

"

except OFCOM are NOT giving anything back to the HD TV, their geared up for the UK PLC wireless firesale to al the multi nations corps and mobile companies to get their grubby hands on and keep locked up until they can find away to extract even more money out you YOUR recession hit pocket.

NOT one single UK started,controlled and only Uk based company can afford the high costs of just buying the freqs never mind finance any hardwre to make use of it for the good of the whole country and its work force and service providers that want to start things like wimax accross the whole UK...

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Anonymous Coward

they did it to save costs

"Have I missed something?

By Gary Posted Friday 17th October 2008 13:36 GMT

I may be missing something fundamental here but us freeviewers will still be receiving TV through a standard aerial to a receiver that captures the broadcast, decodes and assembles it for viewing (at least I hope that's how it will continue to work for FreeviewHD). Surely the hardware will stay the same - receiving signals on set frequencies, it's only the software that will need to change to accomodate the new standard/encoding?

I don't claim to be a broadcast hardware/software expert but this was my understanding of things, so why can't an OTA update fix the issues with integrated freeview tuners from forethinking manufacturers who allow this? My Samsung TV's integrated tuner has had more than one over the air update in it's life and a guide update to boot.

Can anyone shed light?"

its pritty simple really, the OEM used cheap DSPs with fixed codecs (the bit thats takes the video stream file and decodeds it to slap up on the screen) that dont do AVC/H.264 ,

this saves them around £2 per chip , but it cant be software updated to include the new and vastly improved AVC/H.264 codec decoder, were as they could have used a special slightly more expensive on the fly re-programable chip called an FPGA (field Programable gate array) and just written an opdate and sent it to the FPGA to upgrade its hardware as offten as is required.

simple cost cutting and lack of insight by using the generic prototype PCB boards that didnt include FPGA chips as standard.

the STBs are exacly the same, so your screwed there too, only the PC USB2 DVB-T sticks stand a reasonable chance that they might work, as most of them do their decoding in software running on the CPU CoreAVC decoder codec being hte best one today, or they can pass the decoding to your latest and greatest GPU such as the x3600 HD ATI video cards if your lucky but coreAVC works better on fast dual core CPUs anyway

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Alien

Mpeg4-AVC part10

"Re: Have I missed something?

By druck Posted Friday 17th October 2008 14:07 GMT

MPEG4 is requires more powerful hardware to decode it, and existing MPEG2 tuners probably can't manage it. Even if they could, where is the impetus for the manufacture to give you a free over the air upgrade, when he can sell you a whole new telly to watch crap with more detail?

its a little sad really but if when you say "Mpeg4" you actually mean "Mpeg4-part10" AKA "AVC" or even unofficially "Mpeg4-AVC" works for most people to be clear, so start using the right names would be nice form El reg etc.

"mpeg4" is infact officially the old DivX/Xvid codec derivative that NO broadcaster has ever used, its known in the official spec as "Mpeg4-part2"

"MPEG2 tuners probably can't manage it" it NOTHING to do with the tunner, that just tunes in to the signal as it were, you need a codec to decode it, and the STB/Tv companys used a cheap chip that didnt have the ability to be software upgraded to the AVC codec, a few quid more and that FPGA would have ment you can upgrade to anything as and when it was required.

theres just no excuse, they knew full well they would need AVC at some point and you would be likely to upgrade your STB to get the latest and greatest HD recording drive and updated GUIs, but they didnt take in to consideration the internal HDTVs not not being software upgradeable, and you would be wise to make them pay the price now with masses of small claims in the courts for selling TVs unfit for 1080 HD ready purpose.... if you have any sense and can be bothered...

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Boffin

Mpeg4-AVC ,-part10

"DVB-T2 and MPEG4 AVC

By Anonymous Coward Posted Sunday 19th October 2008 14:24 GMT

"

"DVB-T2 - Specification is now complete but there is no silicon and tests using FGPAs and large test rigs are only just getting underway. Silicon will follow sometime but that will need design and testing too, die area will be much larger than normal DVB-T demodulators so cost will be higher. "

your trying to side step the issue the cost savings , it seems you might work for those companies that chose to cut costs, at the expense of the consumers by misselling good not fit for purpose and cant take 1080i/P the currently UK transport streamed HD TV standard..

put simply FPGAs ARE Silicon, infact FAR BETTER and versitile Silicon than your cheap and nasty fixed DSPs your talking about for later in todays UK markets were changing HD STB and TV s are concerned at least.

the STB/HDTV OEMs have known for a very long time now that AVC was coming yet chose to save a few £ by using fixed DSPs (Digital Signal Processor) and Mpeg2 only codecs inside these SOC (System On a Chip) rather than the software upgradeable FPGA chipsets/SOC , and thats just wrong.

every single manufacturer should have and be using current FPGA chips/SOC in all the worlds STBs and related HD kit today, and then you would see the prices start to match these cheap DSPs , but the end users would be getting far better long term options for a quick software/codec update at FPGA hardware speeds, you cant do that with DSPs thast why their cheaper for the OEMs and bad for you.

people would still buy new kit for the other updates they want to have ,fancyer tuners and multi record etc, but not using FPGas has done nothing but harm to the UKs HD rollout.

that affordable 720P HD ready HDTV you got today before reading this thread has now no chance of taking the 1080I BBC test signals and lets not forget ,a countrys HD standard is set by its free to air standard and not some self proclaimed tade body, and leta not forget the BBC has now set that standard as 1080I/P NOT 720P so all your officially HD redy TVs are substandard on that score too.

"The question is how worthwhile is it to design equipment that will only offer a benefit in the Manchester area (same would be true for any one area before all the Northerners lynch me).

DVB-T2 should give a 50% increase in bandwidth on a multiplex for the same level of robustness. This should give 36Mbit/s instead of 24Mbit/s allowing about 4 HD channels (though pretty heavily compressed). Blu-ray has 50Mbit/s for one programme.

"

LOL GREATER Manchester (thats just as big if not bigger that london) and a lot more besides are covered by the Winterhill transmitters were the test signals are coming,they dont call it the NORTHWEST for nothing

they should have already used the winterhill towers when the original london trials were on the first time, but someone screwwed up and didnt activate the right forms for aproval or someomne pocketed some cash to keep it off the air ...

"DVB-T2 should give a 50% increase in bandwidth " hmm you should try reading the spec, its clearly stated that the objective was for an increase of at least 33% and that is exactly what they delivered, the same for all the DVB-*2 infact.

"HD-Ready has always only indicated connectivity and screen resolution"

wrong, its officially to say your UK purchase is garanteed to display the content at the countys free to air HD broadcasts standard as above, the cost effective ones even today dont do that , as they only display the native 1080I/P at a downscaled 720P at best.

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Pirate

a monkeys

"1 don't give a monkey's about the switch over. I'd rather go for a walk or a pint"

so your not going to care that you cant get a good mobile Wimax Broadband conection while your out and about then ?

thats what the switch over is all about after all, selling these UKPLC airewaves to the highest world bidder that will get their gribby hands on it, and lock it away unused until they can get even more money out of YOU buying their overpriced kit.

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Flame

@Mpeg4-AVC part10

AC wrote: "its a little sad really but if when you say "Mpeg4" you actually mean..."

JFC! What's sad is you felt necessary to insult all of our intelligences with a display of arse clenching pedantry and hair splitting. I think everyone here understands the concept of a digital tuner, and I'm terribly sorry I didn't state the full title of MPEG4 codec including all relevant paragraph numbers in it's specification, but it's pretty bleeding obvious to everyone else.

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This topic is closed for new posts.