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back to article BBC publishes Freeview HD timetable

London and Manchester will pip Liverpool to the post by becoming Blighty’s first cities able to receive Freeview HD, according to the BBC’s regional rollout timetable for the next-generation digital TV service. Graham Plumb, Head of Distribution Technology at BBC Operations, told Register Hardware back in June that Liverpool …

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hmm...

I have yet to see a freeview HD logo on a TV, I have also yet to meet a shop assistant who doesn't think that I'm some sort of moron for insisting that Freeview is getting HD.

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How crap is that...

I really thought that Freesat was already broadcasting decent HD content.

I shan't bother upgrading for another year or so then.

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Ha!

Well, it seems the business to be in right now is retailing HDTV kit!

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I see

So "HD Ready" != "HD Ready"?

Boy, I am glad I have not joined the HD bandwagon yet. Mostly because I can't see what all the fuss is about. I still can't see any difference between a decent SD picture and an HD one. Broadcast TV does not count as they are compressed to buggery and that is what is ruining the picture, not the definition.

I have yet to find any store showing a side-by-side comparison of (say) the same movie from a DVD vs Blue-ray. And even then I'd want to see lots of movement on the screen to prove that the player and the TV can push the data. Even on a DVD player you can sometimes see it struggle with the amount of information and HD is meant to be pushing more.

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Timescale

So, 2 weeks to go live in London; 1 month for the first HD PVRs to arrive; 6 months to let the early adopters weed out the buggiest units; 1 year for prices of said units to fall to sensible levels. By then I expect my trusty Inverto will be needing replacement; sounds like a reasonble timescale.

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Not sure if I'm in 'Scotland' or not...

When you say Scotland will receive Freeview HD in 2010, does that mean the parts covered by STV (i.e. the vast majority of the area and population)? Because the arse-end of the country is covered by Tyne Tees & Border and I can never tell whether we're included in the definition.

Not that it really matters to me, I won't be replacing my Freesat HD box with the equivalent Freeview one any time soon.

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FAIL

who is going to buy a new TV for a few HD channels?

At the price they are, very few people I'd think.

Thanks OFCOM, for looking after the consumers' interests ahead of trying to flog more bandwidth.

Oh, wait...

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Anonymous Coward

misreading?

I think you've misread/understood the press release. The majority of Liverpool gets its feed direct from Winter Hill and as such will get BBC HD on December 2nd the same as the rest of the North West- not that any consumers have receiving equipment yet, but that's a chicken/egg situation.

The areas of Liverpool that will have to wait until March 2010 are those in shadows from Winter Hill who are instread covered by the low power relay Storeton (England) - that is what the press release is referring to when they say that Liverpool relays will be retrofitted later on.

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Any news from OFCOM?

I.e. will I be able to get HD on my PC based system? (MythTV)

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@The BigYin Posted Monday 16th November 2009 16:47 GMT

>any store showing a side-by-side comparison of (say) the same movie from a DVD vs Blue-ray.

I have. You can tell the difference. It is definitely a huge improvement.

But you can also tell that it's generally not worth the price hike. I'm perfectly happy with 99% of what I watch being at DVD quality on your average £500 36" TV.

Yes, if you're glued to thing all day, or you're obsessive about watching films with masses of special effects at the best quality you can, then fine, it's well worth it. But if you aren't, then keep your money for a while and wait until the price drops to a sensible level.

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@Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

FreesatHD and FreeviewHD are different things. You need a satellite dish and a suitable decoder in either a set-top-box or your telly for FreesatHD.

FreeviewHD will use a normal TV aerial, together with a suitable dec....... you know what I mean.

I'm pretty pissed of actually. I tried to be ahead of the game by making sure that all of the TV's I have in the house have freeview boxes, only to now find out that they will be obsolete almost before I needed to install them.

And why do we need both FreesatHD and FreeviewHD. Surely one or the other could be made to cover the whole country. And why not just legislate (or even just pay) to make Sky carry the free-to-air channels, rather than inventing another incompatible satellite system.

I'm sick of the perpetual bandwagon of money-grabbing new technologies that we have to buy in to in order to maintain what we have already. PC's, DVD's, game consoles, phones, TV's, media players etc.

My view is that this is capitalism gone mad. I'm not normally of this persuasion, but I'm beginning to think that governments should legislate for a minimum life for technologies, otherwise we will just be cycling raw materials between the manufacturers and the recyclers, with a brief use as devices in between.

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DVB-T2

There is apparently no DVB-T2 receiving hardware available, let alone finished products.

Meanwhile, the changes made to existing broadcasts to accommodate this stuff have been causing a fair few problems where it's been rolled out already, so rejoice if you're not top of the list.

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Scotland

"Scotland will be able to receive the service by Q2 2010"

- Well, some parts will anyway while other parts won't even get standard Freeview till 2011

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Jobs Horns

One born every minute

Anyone who went and spent a fortune on a HD-ready set when their existing SDTV set was perfectly good, or who spent extra on a full HD set with a Freeview tuner instead of getting a cheaper panel and a STB was a fule.

No doubt this time next year you'll be able to buy a 50" 1080p screen with integrated HD tuner for a quarter of what a 26" HD-ready screen with analogue tuner cost back then.

Buying a HD-ready set when you had no intention of getting HD (or worse still -- before there was any available) is like buying a 1600x1200 LCD monitor and configuring your graphics card for 1024x768. The average UK TV gets changed every 6-9 years anyway. There will literally be people out there whose HD-ready TVs fail before the household ever gets any HD content!

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FAIL

Meanwhile, are the DVB-T specs for HD actually agreed?

Funny, it seems like only a few days since Ofcon told the BBC where to stick its proposals for DRM on Freeview HD, but we still have the same schedule as we did before the spat.

Ah yes, here it is:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/09/bbc_ofcom/

Does DVB-T have HD anywhere else in the world or are we once again going our very own incompatible DVB way?

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Can I get a refund?

Well I bought a TV because it had the "Digital freeview" symbol, and the TV advert said I should get one that has that, because there will be a switchover and it's the guarantee that the new TV I buy will get all the new channels.

It even showed an example where if you didn't, you would get some soppy black and white girly flick instead of football...

Well I bought one, and now they are telling us that they lied, the symbol doesn't mean it will get all the new channels. The switchover hasn't even happened yet, and the one they told me to buy is already out of date.

Who do I sue?

Can I also get damages because I had to watch the stupid bloody adverts too?

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@ BigYin

"I still can't see any difference between a decent SD picture and an HD one."

May I suggest, then, that you go get your eyes checked PDQ?

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Does this mean

That TV's with built in freeview tuners and advertised as HD ready are in fact a blatant case of false advertising? It certainly looks that way.

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Waste of money

According to the Beeb (the technical folks who understand the issues, not the marketing wonks), average viewing distance in the UK is 2.7m (10feet). At that distance you need a screen bigger than 37" diagonal in order for your eye to be physically able to resolve any extra detail in HD. So, either you get a TV that's got a 50" or more diagonal for best effect, or you need to sit <6 feet from a 36" one, else you won't see any benefit from HD. I would guess that for most people neither is true, so Freeview HD is a complete waste of time.

That assumes, of course, the the SD picture is not overcompressed. Since it always is then HD might seem better, but giving the same bandwidth to SD would be a cheaper way to get the same result.

Still, that wouldn't get people to scrap perfectly good equipment to replace it with newer ones, would it, so it'll never be done, and those who fork out the cash will never admit that they can't see any difference anyway...

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FAIL

Eh?

The BBC's online is available online now..... what does that mean?

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Pathetic

Everything takes so long to roll-out in Britain that it's obsolete by the time it is mainstream. Dab fiasco, now Freeview fiasco. They haven't even switched to proper digital full signal etc... and already it's obsolete. I'm glad I bought a cheap but large display as a TV and a mac mini and can just pop in a new Elgato tuner stick at the appropriate time.

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HD Ready / HDTV

The "HD Ready" label has a very specific meaning - it means that the display is widescreen, with at least 720 lines of resolution, and has an HDMI or DVI input, with HDCP, plus a few extra bits about the picture formats that can be displayed.

That's all. The "HD Ready" standard, as defined by EICTA (www.digitaleurope.org), and licensed for use on equipment, has only ever meant that the display is of sufficient resolution, and with appropriate connections, to be connected to an HD source. It has never been defined in any official way to mean "will receive HD broadcasts"

There's another logo for that, again licensed by EICTA, which is the "HD TV" logo. That tells you that something can "receive and decode HD signals", such as a satellite box or a Freeview HD box. When it appears on something with a display it additionally indicates that the display meets the "HD Ready" spec.

Of course, plenty of people misconstrue the term "HD Ready" to mean that something will do what the "HD TV" logo is for, but the official definition, at least as far as the label on the front of equipment goes, has been clear since 2005.

What the spotty youths in your favourite retailer may tell you is, of course, not necessarily the same.

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So now I can

not watch the BBC channels in HD as well as not watching in normal definition.

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HD Freeview.

Was hoping to delay buying any new equipment as long as possible i.e. after 2012 at earliest, being aware of changing flux in TV industry, but the on/off button on our old TV gave up the ghost. Having brought earlier in the year I see I am now already out of date. VERY annoyed at the TV industry and BBC over all the changes and making fairly new equipment out of date. There is going to be a lot of set top boxes that end up in land fills. Also what was the point of getting a TV with built in Freeview when its out of date within six months.

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FAIL

HD Ready My Arse

So you buy an HD TV - 1080p standard and you find out that it will be totally useless for receiving Freeview HD.

Bet the buggers were pissing themselves laughing for the last couple of years at every mug who bought a new TV in anticipation of free to air HD content.

... why am I not surprised!

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@The Big Yin

You can tell you haven't joined the HD Bandwagon as you clearly know nothing about it. You might want to read up on what 'HD Ready' actually means before posting. Unless you want to keep looking like an luddite that is.

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Dimwitted x2

@Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse:

The article is talking about FreeVIEW not FreeSAT.

@BigYin:

You won't see a lot of difference if you discount all broadcast TV, will you? 'HD Ready' TVs are just that, but most require a separate HD input, currently from a Sat box or Blu-Ray/HD DVD player. No-one is going to get Sky HD directly into their TV because Sky refuse to license the decryption of their output.

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@The BigYin

Perhaps you need glasses? There's an enormous difference between Bluray and DVD. My two year old Bravia looks stunning in HD, and there's no motion ghosting at all.

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WTF?

@BigYin

If you really can't tell the difference between a DVD and Blu-ray, then I think you need your eyes upgraded to HD. Do you still run your computer at VGA resolution?

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Unhappy

BBC HD is not HD

Anybody who walks the BBC blogs on the current state of BBC HD will tell you that the current Picture Quality being pumped out on Freesat is no better than SD and that the BBC are in denial about the issue.

So why bother?

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Boffin

Parts of Liverpool will be covered

Much of the Liverpool area gets its signals from the Winter Hill mast (like Manchester), not Storeton (on the Wirral).

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@ Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

FreeSAT (free to air (non-Sky) satellite) already does broadcast HD

FreeVIEW (terestrial) doesn't.

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Cutting it fine...

if they want to add copy protection as being lobbied by the cartels. Bit silly too since Freesat is unprotected.

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@ The BigYin

HD Ready means you can feed a HD signal to the TV, whether that be from Blu-Ray or an HD satellite/terrestrial/cable set-top box. This means you can buy a HD TV now and enjoy HD from Blu-Ray and add other sources later.

Or would you rather that manufactuers waited until the specs were finalised for Freeview/Freesat HD etc before they released HD TVs for people to watch their Blu-Rays on?

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@Big Yin

I think that "HD ready" only really means that the screen has a resolution of 1080, or 720 lines and that there is a suitable input for an HD source. So a monitor running at 1080, with only a VGA input wouldn't be able to be describled as "HD Ready." "HD Capable" would be more like it, not very snappy though.

HD is actually pretty darn good, but then again so is PAL. I remember some American friends seeing PAL in the UK for the first time and asking if it was HD, becuase their NTSC was so poor...

Having said that, I'm not going pay money (above the licence fee) for HD channels and I'm certainly not having some dirty great dish bolted to my house for it...

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Newcastle & Tyneside -- February 2010

According to the BBC press release, the Pontop Pike transmitter will get HD in February 2010, though they go on to say that Tyneside will be upgraded in 2012, which is the date for the digital switchover. I think you only spotted the second reference to Tyneside in the BBC press release.

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Headmaster

HD Ready? It's all about standards

Terrestrial HD? The US has broadcast HD (known as ATSC) for years, and all their tellies were mandated to be able to receive it by that centralist dictatorship known as The Bush Era.

Sadly Europe (and the UK) suffer from being a bit more democratic and NOT forcing all manufacturers to support a new European standard. Could you imagine the fuss the parties would make if we all had to buy new tellies to receive a TV standard defined in Brussels?

@Yin "HD Ready" meant that the device could display a 720p picture. If that seems de-riguer nowadays and not worthy of mentioning, it shows how far the tech has come in, what, 3 years? If you're looking for side-by-side TV comparisons, you probably want to go to a higher-tier AV shop, one that will happily show you to a demo room. Your wallet might feel uncomfortable though, even if your intellectual curiosity would be sated.

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2 weeks away

and no hardware capable of receiving or decoding it. May I ask "what's the point"?

Not to mention the rest of Europe decided to carry on with DVB-T MPEG4/AVC - so we'll have a market all to ourselves. Joy (read - overpriced, late bolt-ons)

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WTF?

What the hell is wrong with people?

HD ready set = a video display unit that can display at least 720p resolution. look at the back of the TV. Does it have a HDMI, VGA,DVI orComponent connector? (most have more than one) Then yes. It is capable of displaying HD TV. So nobody has wasted money on a 1080p set just because the freeview tuner is DVB instead of DVB2.

So your set has a compatible connection that can take an HD signal and put it on the screen at HD resolutions. You just need to attach a source of HD signal. Simple eh? HD refers to the display. End of story.

The source can be a Blu ray player, a FreesatHD box, a sky HD box, a Virgin cable HD box, or a DVBT2 box. No need to throw away your set if you can just plug in a tuner.

Now go back to reading the Daily Mail. I'm sure there is an immigration crisis that needs your righteous indignation to protect us from.

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FAIL

@John Bailey

So because I don't want to be fleeced for pay for YET ANOTHER TUNER, I'm somehow a Daily Mail reader? Are you a tuner retailer or an OFCOM employee?

How many HDMI sockets does the average HDTV have? Mine has two and both its HDMI sockets are in use, connected to my PC and my BD player, so plugging in a 3rd item is not realistic, unless I buy YET ANOTHER piece of kit on top of a tuner.

I'm sick of being told I have to buy yet more hardware year on year. As pointed out by Annihilator, DVB-T MPEG4/AVC is in use in the rest of Europe (and Australasia). The only reason DVB-T2 is being pushed is so that OFCOM can try to generate revenue by selling the bandwidth that DVB-T2 won't need. OFCOM are supposed to be acting in the interests of consumers, not the businesses who want to saturate the airwaves with crap.

There is a very real risk that Freeview HD will fail, because there may not be enough take-up due to techno-fatigue.

Anyway, what do you read? From your selfish attitude, it looks likely to be the Sun (or indeed, the Daily Mail). Don't be such an ignorant troll.

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WTF?

Obsolete?

Why all the moaning in these comments that people's freeview boxes will be obsolete? They won't. They won't do any less than if Freeview HD wasn't being launched. This is something extra, which people can get if they want.

And yes, on Sky HD at least, HD is definitely noticeable. Partially because the data rate and compression standard is better than SD MPEG-2 I suspect, but that's a long way from the whole story. As to whether it's worth it - that's up to your own value judgement. Don't see the point? Don't buy it - that's the great thing about a free market - nobody is forcing you to get it just because it exists...

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No surprises

So, no surprises that those of us who were forced to switch first, when the new equipment wasn't yet available and when the procedures were still complete bollocks (we were sent a pamphlet detailing the "Four ways to go digital". Except three didn't apply in our region), won't benefit by being the first to get HD. No, treat the country bumpkins like shit, experiment on them, get things right and then give all the good stuff to the townies.

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Gold badge

Re: What the hell is wrong with people?

I think they're pissed off that they've spent the cash, only to find that the logo branding scheme for HD is as simple and accurate as the Vista one was and that they need to spend more cash to get what they thought that they were paying for in the first place.

@everyone complaining: Just substitute "Vista" for "HD" on all the logos. It makes sense* then.

*Actually it doesn't, but you won't be so surprised that you've been ripped off.

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Megaphone

"No need to throw away your set if you can just plug in a tuner"

Sorry John Bailey but as far as sensible people are concerned, (and really sorry about the caps but some people seem a bit dumb),

IF IT NEEDS TWO REMOTE CONTROLS, TWO MAINS LEADS, AND COMES IN TWO BOXES, IT ISN'T AN HD TV.

Maybe John Bailey works in the industry?

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Anonymous Coward

@ Peter Gathercole

>> And why not just legislate (or even just pay) to make Sky carry the free-to-air channels, rather than inventing another incompatible satellite system.

Actually, Freesat isn't "another incompatible satellite system", Sky is the one that's incompatible with **everything** else. Sky is the one using closed standards so that they can control what you watch, and what you watch it with - ie you can only use **their** boxes and are limited to software features **they** are prepared to let you have.

As I understand it, and I'm prepared to be corrected, the channels on Freesat are carried as open standard streams receivable with any reasonably up to date receiver (not just Freesat) - Freesat simply mandates certain features (such as the EPG) to make it easy for people to use.

But along with a few others, I'm really waiting for the great masses to find out that the TVs they were sold as being ready for Freeview and HD won't do Freeview HD. I pointed this marketing issue out to someone from Digital UK a couple of years ago - they "just didn't care" would be a polite interpretation of their attitude. You can't expect the average punter in the street to realise the fine detail of what "HD Ready" means without it being explained, and so huge numbers of people WILL be expecting their "HD Ready", Freeview equipped TV to be ... well ready for HD.

Back to the switchover, I'm in the Granada region, so we are part way through the switchover. What a flipping mess ! At home I can get two versions of some of the BBC channels, at a friends house, he can get three (their local repeater is now carrying the BBC mux). Do the boxes allow you to select which muxes to add ? No they don't, they just tune in the lot and leave you to sort out the working ones ! So their channel lineup goes something like : 803, 804, 7, 9, 3, 6, ... because the BBC1 and BBC2 that actually work are stuck up in the 800's and the crap boxes don't allow for renumbering. It's related to the reason many people are getting the 'wrong' BBC2 - they can get it from two different transmitters. This too has been pointed out to the authorities - yet they chose to ignore it, even though it would have been relatively simple to mandate a mechanism for the user to select transmitters to ignore.

Oh yes, and someone asked why bother with Freeview HD when HD is on Freesat - well lot of people can't get Freesat for various reasons. Some won't have line of sight, quite a lot won't be allowed a dish - if a tenant in my flat asked to put a dish up, with all the holes and exposed cable it would mean, then I probably wouldn't allow it (or I'd demand a payment up front to cover the cost of re-instatement when they've left).

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Denmark HD

At the start of this month Denmark begin broadcasting DR HD nationwide with the existing DVB-T standard. The signal is not due to change to DVB-T2 until 2012. However, to receive the HD channel you still need a tv or box capable of decoding MPEG-4 (H.264/AAC). Some of the older ones do not have this capability.

I don't like built-in receivers anyway; much rather have a separate unit - even better if it runs open source software so it's easy to add new features.

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Where's the positivity?

I read this and my immediate reaction was - great news, sooner than i thought.

Then there's a barrage of moaning comments about HD ready TV's having a standard-def tuner built-in. WTF? Do you think the picture from a SD source is better on a fancy HD Ready TV? Or has everyone been suckered by the marketing nonsense, and refused to believe their own eyes.

@ John Bailey - well said.

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Headmaster

15 days and counting.... BUT still NO DVB-T2 STBs For Sale

"There’s good news in store for Manchester and London, though. The BBC’s Freeview HD roadmap also revealed that both cities will get the service from 2 December 2009.

"

15 days ,and counting.... and STILL still no DVB-T2 STBs or USB2 DVB-T2 sticks in the local North West ASDA or ANY Shop....

the BBC and OFCOM have know about this 2nt Dec 2009 date for NW winterhill DVB-T2 broadcast for a VERY LONG time.

The DVB-T2 specification was approved by the DVB Steering Board at the end of June 2008

thats 17MONTHS AGO.

the first prototypes appeared at the end of 2008,

thats 12 MONTHS AGO.

the Plug Fest at the RAI Research Centre in Turin took place for ineroperability during March 2009, with equipment from nine companies. thats 9 companys kit almost

9 MONTHS AGO

and yet we STILL DO NOT HAVE ANY DVB-T2 STB KIT AVAILABLE or it seems even in wholesale or transit.

are these so called Professionals even actually manufacturing anythng in the far east, waiting to go into a container and be fast shiped.

or even better, airlifted into Manchester International Airport (they fall Directly into this NW winterhill tranmitter coverage too) to the NW Uk shops delivery depo's TO BE ACTUALLY ASAP ready for the official start of the worlds first DVB-T2 High Def AVC/H.264 (what Audio? AAC sterio? 5.1 !) ON THE 2ND DECEMBER 2009...

sack the OFCOM Bod and remand the BBC executives that are responsable for this massive kockup.

we want to actually buy these New DVB-T2 High Def terestial STB things for our North West chrismas Gifts, and perhaps unwrap them and actually USE them to ACTUALLY see this once in a lifetime WORLD FIRST From the BBC AS IT HAPPENS.

not when they finally see fit to get around to giving us something to actually buy and use, probably well after the 2nd dec and even christmas and new year has been and gone....

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Anonymous Coward

history repeats itself

here we go...several years of £100 set top boxes plus a few £40 'budgcom' ones which run 'alarmingly' hot.

TV news stories will proudly report brisk sales as apparently selling people stuff is big new.

so the usual then.

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Anonymous Coward

NO DVB-T2 tuner, No fun for PCs

"Any news from OFCOM? #

By Unprofessional Type Posted Monday 16th November 2009 17:16 GMT

I.e. will I be able to get HD on my PC based system? (MythTV)

"

NO, the current USB2 sticks for high spec PC's etc ONLY have a DVB-T demodulator, YOU NEED a DVB-T2 demodulator to pickup the different signal on the DVB-T2 Mux and your OC going to need CoreAVC or ffmpeg etc to be able to decode the AVC/H.264 codecs its carrying...

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