I live in winterhill area. So you are saying i will be getting a HD transmission come December 2nd but no equipment to watch it? Thats extremely helpful!
With the first Freeview HD transmissions scheduled to start on the 2 December in the London, Liverpool and Manchester areas, Register Hardware answers all your questions about the new telly technology. Freeview HD logo New Zealand's Freeview HD logo. What will Blighty' look like? What do I need to receive Freeview HD? You …
Will programs be using 1080 or 720 resolution? I plan to ditch my old and very fine telly only when there is a good supply of high quality, free 1080 programming. 720 just does not seem worth the expense for really only a very small increase in quality over the ancient 576 line standard.
What a bloody shambles. So, what it boils down to is that DVB-T would be fine if we ditched a bunch of useless channels, but then we'd not have the joy of buying new equipment and getting lots of lovely DRM in return for a very minor increase in resolution.
Fantastic. Freeview HD is made of Fail.
The "HD Ready" thing is a bit of a silly idea really.
For those who are more technically proficient with their AV equipment, it's quite simple to understand that HD Ready just implies that it's able to display a picture in HD resolutions from an able source.
Unforunately this has got lost down the line in terms of explaining it to the mainstream as people associate things like Sky HD and Virgin Media HD with HD Ready televisions.
The name "Freeview HD" doesn't help this cause.
"To make HD practical on terrestrial television, using H.264 is essential, unless lots of other channels are turned off to make room.'
Well how many shopping channels and +1 channels do we need? I'd rather have 10 channels of quality programming than 50 channels of rubbish and repeats, regardless of the picture clarity.
"Launching HD now, and then using the new transmission technology later would force many people to upgrade twice in a short time"
What about everyone who already upgraded to a "HD Ready" TV for their Blu-Ray/HD-DVD players and XBOX/PS3 consoles? How can OFCOM defend moving to the DVB-T2 standard, inconveniencing millions of HDTV owners, while simultaneously refusing to move to the DAB+ standard in case it upsets a few thousand radio listeners?
Using this brand new encoding system, which has little or no penetration of the consumer market will effectively cripple terrestrial HDTV and push existing "HD-Ready" TV owners into the arms of Mr Murdoch. Or perhaps that's the idea?
Aerials: Existing aerials will work perfectly well; all aerials are analogue, there's no such thing as an SD, HD or Digital aerial.
Some installers will tell you you need a "Digital aerial" when what they tend to be offering is a wideband one, rather than the 'grouped' ones that are optimised for a specific chunk of the spectrum.
Resolution: Perhaps I'll persuade El Reg to do a whole separate piece on this, but the launch config of Freeview HD will be 1080lines, interlaced, initial horizontal resolution 1440 pixels; if you want the technical description, that's 1080i25, as the EBU would say.
Timing: With a new technology, and a need to update the transmitters, one or the other had to come first, transmissions or receivers. Getting both to happen on the same day would have been a pretty nifty logistical feat.
720 is larger improvement over 576 than you think. It's 720p (a full 720 lines every frame) rather than 576i (odd 288 lines one frame, even 288 lines the next). Depending on the set, you'll either see the annoying tearing effect on adjacent lines on any moving object caused by interlacing, or your set will try to de-interlace it, which generally involves making the picture less sharp.
James93: chicken and egg. Which would you prefer: transmissions with no equipment to receive, or equipment to receive and no transmissions? I know which one I'd prefer! You need the signals there in order to encourage the manufacturers, who otherwise wouldn't sell any equipment. Not likely you'd buy any without being able to use it. Besides which, it's all very new and it takes time to develop these things.
AC1: there's no such thing as a "digital aerial" - it's all a marketing ploy. The only reason to call it "digital" is if in your area the digital transmissions are in a totally different part of the TV band from the analogue ones, which would require a different (or wideband) aerial.
AC2: There is more to television picture quality than number of lines. For instance, interlace: just because bog-standard telly has about 576 active lines, if sent a full resolution picture consisting of alternating white and black lines, you'd see 25Hz "interlace twitter" flickering because the white lines are being refreshed during one field only. To stop this, you need to blur the picture vertically, which cameras always did (by virtue of their lenses) but early electronic picture production equipment - eg caption generators - didn't, so you'd see twitter around their sharp transitions.
This all means that an interlaced picture has less vertical resolution than the corresponding progressive picture. Don't get bamboozled by the headline figure.
nih: If you want to avoid "fail" then get a better aerial, or position it better, etc.
No i would prefer to see them work with the manufacturers to release kit the same time as transmissions start. it seems to me they just forgot to work with manufacturers, and who does that remind you of? It makes absolutely no odds at all whether its the other way round it is still useless either way.
There is no point transmitting signals unless there is someone to receive them and there is no point releasing kit to receive them if there is no signal! get the timing right or its a waste of time and money until both parts are there to meet.
Are there any Philips DVB-T2 sets to have your eye on, RichyS? I don't think so, right now.
If you were able to find such a beast, it would receive and display the channels because they are broadcast in the clear, using DVB-T2. Just as you can buy (almost) any DVB-T receiver, and pick up existing Freeview SD signals, even if it doesn't have the digital tick or Freeview logo.
However, to be sure you'll get the interactive features and the EPG, you'll need the FreeviewHD logo. (In particular, if the BBC is allowed to use the content protection they want, you'll definitely need a compatible box for the EPG, but the programmes have always been going to be transmitted without encryption).
Given that the UK will be the first deployment, and therefore the market where people will most likely pay a premium for DVB-T2, I would think it very unlikely that Philips or any other major manufacturer will be launching DVB-T2 sets without also getting them certified for FreeviewHD.
druck is quite correct, in fact in many respects 720p can be considered superior to 1080i because of interlace artefacts which reduce the effective resolution to provide more lines.
People are all too often attracted by the 'bigger numbers' rather than the evidence. Progressive capture is superior if done at a sufficiently high frame rate.
The channels available at launch should be BBC HD (which already exists), Channel 4 HD and ITV HD, which will be a peak time simulcast of ITV1.
When technology allows, Channel 5 will be added to the mux.
As for why not remove the other channels so that we can use DVB-T instead, the problem is which channels? Some may not like the slapper on a sofa channels, or the plus 1s, or the shopping channels, but they've all paid for their space, in contracts with privately owned mux operators.
Ofcom can't just go round closing down commercial stations, so that the largest operators can have the space back for an HD service; attempting to do so would drag things through the courts, and even further delay any launch.
If we had a centrally planned TV system, perhaps that would be possible. But we don't - so about the only organisation that could be bullied into giving up space was the BBC. Even losing a couple of their channels (as opposed to the interactive streams that have gone), so that other broadcasters could simulcast HD would be unacceptable to many.
The only other option would be to allocate more spectrum - but with any government we get in the next few years needing cash, that's unlikely to happen.
It can't solve the DVB-T2 issue, it uses the built in tuner. Also since it converts from MPEG4 to MPEG2 the bit rate is very high, to avoid re-compression artifacts, a bit higher bit rate than native MPEG2 of same quality would be. HD is FIVE times the data of SD. The CI simply can't manage that amount of data.
The Neotion is a stop-gap solution for Countries with some DVB-t TVs that do MPEG2 and have launched DVB-t MPEG4 SD TV, New Zealand, Estonia, Ireland, France. About 20 countries.
Frankly I'm sceptical about the claimed 60% saving of DVB-t2 compared with DVB-t, I can't see how in real life it's much more than 30%.
Sony's PlayTV USB dongle for PS3 has just recently got MPEG4 fully working (odd that it didn't from start as it could view and pause MPEG4 TV, but failed to play recordings). However it and virtually all other USB tuners, PCI cards and PCIexpress cards/modules won't do DVB-t2.
Most countries just starting Digital Rollout are using DVB-t + MPEG4 for regular non-HD (rather than MPEG2) as that gives 2x to 3x more capacity compared to UK/German/Dutch MPEG2.
Given the continuing failure of Irish Digital TV to launch in 1999, 2001, 2008 and 2009 some people are asking if Ireland should be using DVB-t2 MPEG4 rather than DVB-t MPEG4. Others of course say Ireland should use DVB-t MPEG2 so that the existing Import UK sets with Digital tuners will work... The Neotion "CAM" does however work with Irish test transmissions, but not on all models of TVs.
The statement that the Freeview cards on the market for PCs can not receive Freeview HD is simply false.
I know someone that has used such a card in their PC and used it to record the HD test transmissions the BBC made some time ago. I know this, because I watched some of the HD programmes transmitted!
The sad thing is, the broadcast Freeview HD that starts in December will actually use higher compression than those test transmissions and will result in inferior picture quality.
@RedBren's "What about everyone who already upgraded to a "HD Ready" TV for their Blu-Ray/HD-DVD players and XBOX/PS3 consoles?"
Many of those sets, of course, wouldn't receive HD transmissions even if DVB-T were used, because they don't have HD decoders, or lack H.264 support at all. A few sets made in the last couple of years, from some manufacturers, support H.264 and HD via DVB-T, but the majority do not.
As I said in the article, many of those sets would need an upgrade anyway, regardless of whether or not they have the 'HD Ready' logo.
Many thanks, Nigel, for the article and for your further comments. Very informative IMO.
I'm looking forward to the launch of HD freeview, especially now I know a bit more about the specs. I'm surprised, on an IT site, that so many people are bemoaning having to upgrade their kit to receive the new transmission standards - it's been pretty obvious for a long time that "HD ready" kit was unlikely to be able to receive native HD freeview signals once the standards had been agreed (as obvious as a chicken and egg scenario can be).
If I already had a HD telly (which I don't FWIW) I'd look at buying an HD freeview PVR when they become available and effectively kill two birds with one stone. People don't generally moan about having to use a Sky set top box to get Sky HD (or SD for that matter) so I'm not sure why they always insist on DVB-T being built natively into their telly's hardware. Personally I'd rather have the best telly I can get for my money and the best PVR to plug into it. Of course this is just my preference, though.
Finally, out of interest, does anyone know if the BBC and Ofcom agreed on whether the BBC will be allowed to use DRM in their broadcasts? I don't understand why an organisation that *we* own should be so desperate to stop us keeping BBC recordings for more than a month or two.
In addition to checking your aerial position you should check the cable type (that runs from the aerial to the living room [or main] socket/outlet). Freeview works best with CT100 or CT125 double-screened cable. If your cable is the old (usually brown) single-screened type then that's probably where your problem lies, especially if your analogue signal is quite good but digital breaks up regularly. Also make sure any cables you use to connect from a aerial wall socket to your digibox is fairly new (not a very old VHS cable, for example) as these may only be single-screened and can degrade the signal quite markedly, especially where they pass near to mains cables supplying the telly, digibox etc.
that my loverly analog signal I used to get from Winter Hill , is now a 'not that great' digital one. I mean, it's okay for some things, but anything with 'active' screens shows up the compression so easily I'm amazed that people still talk about the 'better screen quality'. Especially since we tend to have better quality screens that show these artifacts up more. Oh hum, I suppose who cares that we have artifacts when we can have 20 channels that nobody watches in the same 'space' :( .
Interesting comments about 'no to DAB+ , but yes to DVB-t2' . Couldn't they also have the same idea and start DAB+ transmissions as well , in the same way we're going to be having DVB and DVB-t2 ?
The launch of DVB-T2 DOES NOT mean you HAVE to buy new equipment.
The launch of DVB-T2 DOES NOT mean you HAVE to buy new equipment.
The launch of DVB-T2 DOES NOT mean you HAVE to buy new equipment.
You only need new equipment if you want to see one of the three free HD channels.
As the article says, DVB-T transmissions are likely to continue broadcasting for the forseeable future, in all probability into the 2020s.
Next article - please give the initial line up of channels, their bitrates, their resolutions. Does the system support switching between 1080i for movie type transmissions and 720p for sports transmissions? Does it support 24 frame per second transmissions for movies?
I mean, if you're going to put effort into doing things right, you might as well do them RIGHT.
What's all this 1440x1080 at 25 frames per second? Just give us 1280x720 at 60 frames per second and be done with it. It's good enough.
Ah, http://www.hdtvfaq.org/freeview-hd.html helps:
Initial lineup: BBC ; ITV ; Channel 4 ; S4C (in Wales) ; Five (to launch late 2010)
Resolution: High-definition programmes on Freeview HD are likely to be a mix of 720p and 1080i transmissions depending on the programme content, 1080i being particularly suitable for faster moving images such as those found in sports coverage, while 720p will be used for the majority of regular programming.
"People are all too often attracted by the 'bigger numbers' rather than the evidence. Progressive capture is superior if done at a sufficiently high frame rate."
You're generalising. Sure, given the choice of 1080i50 or 720p50 on sport, you'd choose the latter. But for period drama I'd take 1080i every time (well, if I could bring myself to watch it). There's no single right answer. Well, except for 1080p50, but that won't happen until the broadcasters and the public are prepared to pay...
So what? It's only TV.
Perhaps I'm alone in this, but I couldn't care less about HD TV - I don't watch enough TV to justify my 10-year old set, let alone a new one - and selling new equipment is surely what this is all about. As far as I can see we've recently gone from buying a (small) TV almost with the groceries and moved back 30 years to when a TV was a major investment you thought twice about.
High definition and high quality programming are two different things. We now have 100s of channels, even on freeview satellite - and 99% of it is pure rubbish. I just can't see what difference HD TV is going to make to that. I'd rather have a decent PC that will take my DVDs too.
Save your money - take your dog for a walk and buy a few books.
There was a time when the UK excelled at this stuff.
Here in France I recently bought a Philips TNT/HD TV and can now watch French channels in HD with an English soundtrack , when available.
If the French have pulled their fingers out for most terrestrial channels, why can't the UK?
...nowhere else, the BBC included, will even go into the slightest detail over the STB incompatibility issues, let alone explain the real reasons why we're expected to buy new gear again.
Imagine if this sort of f**k up happened back in the 60s or 70s - remember the resolution and appearance of terrestrial analogue signals improved over time, but there was no major fuss about supportable equipment - you could always plug a TV in and get something - buy a newer TV and it would look much better, smoother. This happened right thru to the 90s I think.
This time round it just stinks of very bad planning from the early stages of original Freeview (SD) ratification. I find it utterly ridiculous why this wasn't accounted for seeing as there must now be millions of soon-to-be-defunct DVB-T receivers built into just as many TVs, STBs, PVRs, computer TV tuners, PS3 Play TVs etc etc etc etc.
The problem may very well have stemmed from the decisions made by the original ON Digital days, remember them? Believe it or not I still have one of their set top boxes, it still works! And then when ITV Digital took over and nearly destroyed the whole shebang until the BBC & co picked up the pieces.
What next!? New kit required for when 1080p 7.1 surround is practically transmissable across the airwaves? Or then WUXGA? I'll only believe that DVB-T2 is actually properly future-proofing us when I see it in action.
I've had Freesat for a year. It has one major advantage and one major disadvantage. The advantage is that satellite transmissions have gobs and gobs of bandwidth available, and DVB-S2, so they don't need to multilate the picture as much. Even on my currently still-SD TV (saving up for one of those Samsung LED jobbies, oh yes), the picture is impeccable, with no visible compression artefacts at all on most channels. Friends who come round are always astonished by how clear the signal is compared to their own Freeview boxes, and nipping round to my neighbours for a gander at his HD-ready setup shows that HD channels look equally excellent.
The disadvantage is that you don't get the same channel range, and a large chunk of the EPG is comprised of Sky cast-offs. For example, I have no Dave, or Sky Three - those are only available with subscription.
So does the picture go to YouTube quality the minute anything moves such as waves, explosions or flames? I remember watching the Olympics last year on FreesatHD and it looked great on a still shot but as soon as anyone moved (happens a lot at the Olympics apparently) the picture just fell apart.
I really cant see this working with all the garbage channels that are eating up valuable bandwith.
As mentioned earlier, less channels means more. Consumer gets better picture and sound and hopefully higher quality programs, the broadcasters get higher viewing figures (remember the days of 18 million+ with 4 channels) and as a result can charge more for advertising.
You could easily combine BBC3 and BBC4 to make at least one vaguely viable channel for a start.
The fact folks arent watching might be due to the fact that episode of Dr Who/TopGear/QI/Eastenders has been shown 12 times already this month.
Assuming that we are now in a point in time where DVB-T2 is being broadcast, and I have a FreeviewHD box capable of receiving the signal and a Full HD tv to watch it on. Will I need to be switching back and forth to my existing Freeview(sD) tuner to watch the SD broadcasts that will still be in the majority ?
Ther is no reason besides Greed not to sell new tuner boards.. I would quite hapily pay my local TV man's call out fee to come round swap the tuner card and flash the set.
But no not an option just bin the whole set and get another.. same next year? and the year after?
Bunch of C**ts
Yeah i know it won't work with this BUT.............when are SONY releasing the new DVB-T2 modulator box to make it work?
This is the only way i can figure this ever taking off for people who aren't going to replace their TV soon. There's no way i'm going to spend any money buying a box to watch BBCHD not because i think BBCHD is rubbish, it'll just shaft the rest of my set up. i've only just got a TV with a built in digital tuner and it's so much better than the 'set top box' solution that i've had for the best part of 10 years. that's something i don't ever want to go back to thank you very much.
if play TV is upgrading then i've got one system (the PS3) for watching/recording SD, HD, Blurays, DVDs, downloaded media, iplayer, playing games (not that i do much of that).
one thing i'm not doing is replacing my 2 year old £2k 1080p plasma!!!
In reply to RotaCyclic's "The statement that the Freeview cards on the market for PCs can not receive Freeview HD is simply false," sorry. You're incorrect.
The original test transmissions a couple of years ago were using DVB-T, not T2, because the T2 standard wasn't even finalised.
In the most recent round of tests, which included comparative tests of different modes in both T and T2, there were transmissions using both standards; those using DVB-T could be picked up on existing equipment, those using it without could not.
And, its partly as a result of those tests that the performance of DVB-T2 has been assessed; talking to engineers who have been involved in that, they seem confident with the 60% figure. One of the original design criteria for T2 was that it should give *at least* a 30% increase.
Sorry Rota, it's you that is wrong.
Yes, your friend recorded the Freeview HD transmissions a year or 2 ago but these were done on DVB-T. That solution was discarded and they went (with Ofcom's heavy hand) to DVB-T2 instead. As has been accurately reported, you cannot buy any DVB-T2 equipment at the moment, not even a usb tuner.
Also the EBU description in the article is incorrect. The EBU uses a / in the notion so "1080i/25" Still a misleading notation, of course as this can refer to a transmission standard of 50 fields not 25 interlaced frames (yes, there is a n important difference).
With regard to backwards compatibility, it was certainly an element that was mentioned at various stages in drawing up the DVB-T2 spec; I don't have all my notes to hand, but it's expected (and may be mandatory, but without my notes...) that T2 tuners will be able to receive T signals as well. You won't need a separate box to watch SD material.
As for swapping out tuner boards, sadly not every set is modular; if you have a typical tuner can soldered onto a main board, like you'll see in lots of PVRs, for example, doing a swap is not straightforward. Even when you can, you'll also need the firmware (and in some cases loaders) updated in a receiver, to drive a new tuner module.
I honestly can't see many manufacturers going down that route.
@Mage, Regarding the Neotion CAMs, there were actually some (I've played with one) that don't rely on the existing tuner, such an ethernet equipped one, and even a prototype that had an HDMI output. But by then you're getting into requiring sets to do things that they really didn't have in mind when they added the CI slot; as you say, a lot of them just won't work with these things anyway. But people ask...
I tested the Neotion Cam with the ethernet connector...
1) You can only record via Ethernet if the TV recognises the channel
2) Playback fails on most TV & Setboxes if there is no channel to select.
It "pretends" to be a CAM. So only works under the conditions and bitrates that the Setbox or TV supports.
It also was inferior picture quality to a couple of Native DVB-t MPEG4 solutions I tested. I used both off air RTE tests and a PC with a Dektec PCI DVB Modulator card (About 1,200 Euro worth). All tests MPEG4 720x576 25i
Captions and sharp edges had noticeable artefacts with the neotion "CAM" Pocket Duo. Given the cost compared with a real set box, the Real setbox is a better solution.
What I can't understand is the timing of this. With the massive Digital Switchover that has started nationwide, why wasn't the DVB-T2 part finalised and announced (and received manufacturer support) before the switchover started?
There was never any information on the digital switchover websites or leaflets or roadshows about DVB-t2 and HD.
With the switchover many people went out and bought new TV's (often from a rough survey of the people in my parent's street, their first for 10 or 15 years or more). Others all went out and bought set top boxes. The local electronic store did a roaring trade and so di installers.
So why - in this biggest TV switchover since colour television - did they not get the standard sorted before then and push manufacturers to have DVB-T2 sets ready for the switchover? It can't have just been manufacturer greed to sell a different set as any publicity during that time that their's is the only box to receive Freeview HD would have been a coup for them.
I think people are likely to feel really aggreived with the situation when they find out their many hundred's of pounds of TV they have decided to upgrade to for the big switchover is now technologically out dated.
Second question - will HD be broadcast on the sub-transmitters? The ones that are showing the 18 Freeview channels rather than the full complement?
BTW - It doesn't affect me either way as I'm on Virgin Media.
Good article though and great to see the author following up in the comments section.
@Mage "The Neotion is a stop-gap solution for Countries with some DVB-T TVs that do MPEG2 and have launched DVB-T MPEG4 SD TV, New Zealand, Estonia, Ireland, France. About 20 countries."
"The Neotion "CAM" does however work with Irish test transmissions, but not on all models of TVs."
Neotion does not support HE-AAC audio that is used in Denmark, Norway and will be used in Sweden, Finland shortly.
HE-AAC audio is part of the Irish spec. too. The Irish tests are, however, currently being broadcast using MP2 audio.
@Mage"Frankly I'm sceptical about the claimed 60% saving of DVB-T2 compared with DVB-T"
But the PSB-3 DVB-T2 HD multiplex will broadcast with 40.2 Mbit/sec from December 2. The other DVB-T muxes will have a bitrate of 24.1 Mbit/sec. 40.2/24.1 = 1.67 = +67%.
This is not just theory - its a proven fact.
The 30% was known to be to low right from the start of the DVB-T2-TM (the technical workgroup) - just not by how much.
I'm not looking forward to explaining this one to Dad. He's already bought a TV that's "got HD" and assumes all his digi-box transmissions are in HD. And given the range of confusion on these here comment boards (ranging from RotaCyclic's "I watched the HD trials 2 years ago", to Red Bren's "everyone has an HD TV, why force them to upgrade?" - all seemingly valid points but ultimately flawed) even people who care enough to read articles about it are confused.
Can't wait for the govt's FAQ to drop through my letterbox...
G/F is going to kill me though - we bought a fairly expensive PVR last Christmas. I have zero chance of replacing it without a fight!
You could replace PlayTV if/when Sony release an upgrade to DVB-T2, or if you have a Windows XP MCE, Windows Vista Home Premium / Vista Ultimate or Windows 7 Home Premium / Pro / Ult computer save your pennies and buy a PCI when they are release.
Cheaper than another PlayTV, plus you can use it on your PC, as well as your PS3, Xbox 360 and various tellies even connect without anything else.
Voila - like Sky+ HD for freeview.
Nice article, but I think it would have helped to go just 1 step further.
a digital TV picture arrives on your screen thanks to 2 very independent components.
The way the picture (and sound) is encoded into bits - MPEG2, MPEG4 / H264 - is the the message.
All HD piccies are using MPEG4 as it is very much more efficient than MPEG2. The same standard is used for freesat HD as will be used by freeview HD (and is also used by most other HD transmissions - maybe even all). PCs already handle MPEG4 quite happily, as do such things as a Freesat HD boxes. Indeed many nice things are happening in the PC space, such as Nvidia building MPEG4 / H264 decoding into the drivers for their newer cards (even for linux...)
The second part is the medium - how the digital bitstream is delivered to your display.
This can be carried over a satellite signal or a terrestrial TV signal. Today freesat uses the S1 standard, and it delivers SD and HD pictures. There is an S2 standard, and some equipment supports it, but freesat will not be using it for some time yet. S2 can carry more bits in the same space as S1, but as satellite transmissions are not yet feeling the bandwidth pinch, they do not have a big incentive to change. I'm happily receiving BBC HD transmissions onto a linux based PC, as they are not encrypted or DRM protected in any way.
Freeview today uses T1 only and is all SD, but in a few days will start using (on 1 multiplex only) T2 to carry more bits and deliver HD channels.
The main reason that there is no kit around as yet, is that the BBC wants to DRM the HD broadcasts, but could not just encrypt the data stream (as that is against the BBC charter), so they proposed to Ofcom that they should encrypt the EPG info as a slight of hand way of (apparently) not breaking the charter, while still locking up the broadcasts.
This required that reception equipment be modified to handle the EPG encryption, so until it was known to be in or out, none of the manufacturers could actually start manufacturing kit, getting it certified, getting it into production, and eventually into the shops. As this only got kicked into touch by Ofcom a couple of weeks ago, no kit has yet started through this process.
Of course this whole certification / approval thing is a bit weird anyway - it never used to happen in analogue days, and is really just the BBC, on behalf of ( itself and ) the big media companies trying to control the whole channel (as the media indistry did with DVD encryption).
Finally we get to the picture, and the BBC - in an effort to jam a quart into a pint pot - have screwed down the bit rate on HD (on freesat HD and also the same thing to be on freeview HD), so that their picture quality appears to be significantly poorer than the other HD channels from sky and virgin - not that they will admit to this of course, they believed the manufacturers of their shiny new MPEG 4 encoders when they were told you could get HD pictures at 2 1/2 bits per second.
ho hum, where's my tin hat
I have for many years been saying to my wife that we had to wait. Gosh do I feel smug. I have refused to buy a HD "Ready" TV until Freeview HD was broadcast, stating that these current TVs were not ready. I got most of this knowledge through reading El Reg, thanks chaps. This article points out - VERY WELL - what we have always known, but were too affraid to ask just in case the answer was you need more kit... We need more kit!
This weekend I was explaining this very fact to some people and stating that if we are lucky there might just a decent deveice capapble of this in time for the world cup. I am not the biggest fan of Sky, but sadly for now, I will have to stick with the Sky HD box, it works.
I have been trying to establish if any of the Dreambox devices have DVB-T2 cards or if they support them, does anybody know?
This is the one I saw:
Oddly, it no longer lists DVB-T2 (though it did at one point according to the print out I have!). It does vaguely go on about being able to display terrestrial HD TV though. I hope Play.com aren't trying to mislead anyone, 'cos it ain't going to work in the UK. Looks like I'll wait a little longer before shelling out for a television for the study.
I suppose being based in the Channel Islands, there's not much you can do if you're upset with Play.
I'd quite happily watch Telly in black and white. All this HD stuff is a complete farce.
The detriment to the environment must be HUGE with people upgrading TV sets. LCD's have only really just started to come into their own in the past year and now all this polava.
Paris, because only women look better in HD. Not Emmerdale bloody Farm!
I've held off buying a Freeview PVR since 2005 simply because they're so buggy. They really put Windows into perspective.
So until they all get their act together, there'll be no PVR or HD TV in this house. I even bought a universal remote to replace my Freeview STB's remote when it wore out even though it cost the same as a whole new STB. I did it because I didn't want to give another penny to Freeview or clock up another sale until they make it work.
My STB freezes and resets a lot. Whenever I use the now & next, it says it's unavailable for a few seconds. I have to wait a few seconds to change a channel. Whenever they shuffle the channels, the damn thing gets confused and has to be reset. None of this ever happened with analogue.
watching Eastenders in HD will just make me want to slit my wrists quicker, whereas watching Horizon or David Attenborough on 405 line VHF monochrome will make me want to view and listen.
To me quality is primarily in the content, and 30,000 line picture of Eastenders (Coronation St , X factor, Celebrity Get me outta here) will still be crap and a waste of life.
Expect more of this - they're staying just the legal side of outright lying. It has always been so.
When freeview came out, my mother bought a brand new 'digital' TV only to find out that it was an analogue tv with a 'digital tuner'.
When HD Ready was finalised, manufacturers rushed to shift their now obsolete stock (due to lack of things like HDCP) with misleading 'HDTV Ready' claims.
Now Freeview HD is roound the corner, they're shipping TVs that are 'MPEG4 HDTV' capable but don't have a hope in hell of receiving Freeview HD (btw. Play.com aren't the first. Sony insisted a year ago that their PlayTV was capable of receiving HD Broadcasts, leading to much confusion).
If you google "DVB-T2" , with the quotes, then you get back a lot of technical stuff. No products. COMET , search their site, no products.
Today Pace are pleased to announce the first DVB-T2 set top box, here:
"I have refused to buy a HD "Ready" TV until Freeview HD was broadcast, stating that these current TVs were not ready."
Well I've been enjoying my flatscreen HD ready TV for the last 3 years now and it'll work just fine when I get a Freeview HD PVR to go alongside it. Not quite sure where you get the idea that the current TV's are not ready to display HD signals. Unless you mean ones with built in DVBT2 tuners. Which makes no difference to me as I'll be wanting a box to record with anyway.
Upgraded my house to a nice old own in the country.
It had a huge aerial on the roof, "Good" I thought. Plugged in my trusty old analogue set and got reasonable piccy's.
Then I bought a big flat LCD TV with twin DVB-T tuners and got NO PICTURE !!
Found out that I'm in an "extreme fringe area". (cost so far £1300, excl the house).
Never mind, I can upgrade the aerial can't I. A guy came out for £120 fitted a DAT75 which made no difference at all. (cost so far £1420).
Never mind I always fancied an PC based PVR, so I bought one with twin analogue tuners and ran it on VISTA (enough said). (the configured PC came in at £850, so my total to then was £2,270)
The picture still was pretty poor, so I gave up and decided to go the DVB-S route, I did the install myself this time so the cost was minimal, about £50 for the dish / cables / connectors and a simple sat finder. But I spent about 500 man hours researching it all ! (£2,320)
Then I saw what HD looked like, so I upgraded the sat tuner cards to suit DVB-S2, this cost circa £120, (running total = £2,440)
But the 2yr old PC wouldn't really keep up so I gave it more RAM, HDD, and a beta of Win7. (we're up to £2,600 now).
Even then things weren't great so I bought a whole new PC for £!,095 which pretty much solved my problems !! (£3,695)
Except that the lovely BBC have (I'm told) changed their HD format on sat' so now the picture just breaks up all the time. Apparently my graphics card manufacturer might issue a patch for this some year.
I have just bought a proper version of Win7 now so I reckon I'm well over the £3,750 mark, all spent within 3 yrs !!
Please don't tell the wife. And please don't mention HD DVD players either (damn that total is pushing £4K now !!!)
The joys of AV
Just a whinge about the whole fucking switchover process. I'm in range of the Hannington transmitter and get absolutely fuck-all Freeview (not one single channel) because Hannington is only broadcasting on 1/4 power. The reason? Because to go to full power would interfere with the analogue transmissions received by Guildford. Readers may not be aware but Guildford can only be described as a poverty-stricken hell-hole, inhabited by techno-illiterates barely able to operate the remote and certainly unable spare two pennies from their Social Security handouts. Therefore, penalising everyone else for their sake can only be accepted with Christian goodwill towards my fellow, considerably-poorer, man.
(NB: For those readers not in the UK, Guildford has the highest per-capita income outside of London and is more than able to bear the costs of change-over. In fact the whole procedure is arse-about-tit. What the Government should have done is make the most affluent areas of the country pay the initial costs and let the poorer parts reap the cheaper prices resulting from economies of scale. But since when has Labour Government been concerned about the poor?)
You forgot the most important question and answer.
Will it be copy protected as per the cartels requests to OFCOM? Nobody has answered that one yet and with it starting on Dec 2 and hardware already getting ready to ship we need to know. Freesat is not copy protected so why the fuck should Freeview be anyhow?
Also will it be auto switching? That is. Will it switch to HD automagically if it's being broadcast in HD? The one thing that really pisses me off about Freesat HD is that you have to switch channels or press the red button to watch the same shows in HD.
From what I have read it's to appease those who do not have HD capable TV's yet. But that is a simple solution to fix. Make auto switching an option in the menu.
If I have to keep pressing a fucking red button of changing channels every time to watch something in HD I won't bother. My parents have Freesat HD. Do they bother changing channels or hitting the red button when an HD programme is on? No. Can't be arsed or forget to.
HDTV in the UK is a fucking joke.
B1G: "BBC have (I'm told) changed their HD format on sat' so now the picture just breaks up all the time."
They didn't change the format; they tweaked the encoders and it's now using some of the advanced features of H.264 that it didn't beforehand. Still within the spec - just a part of the spec that some software writers chose to ignore, because no one was using it at the time. Strikes me as a slightly odd way to code software, personally.
The copy protection that was proposed was functionally the same as on Freesat, nothing more, nothing less. No encrypted video streams, just a compressed EPG, with meta-data specifying content control. Ofcom has rejected even that; we'll see what the next move is.
As for changing channel, what's so difficult about pressing buttons on the remote? Note that in the case of BBC HD, it's a separate channel; would you want your TV to automatically switch to BBC HD when they announce Strictly Come Dancing, even though you were planning to switch to, say, ITV instead?
One reason ITV uses the red button is because on satellite, they don't have regionalisation, and they have potential rights issues, due to the transponder they're on.
The EPG data will be capable of flagging up HD broadcasts; whether or not someone creates a box that selects it automatically will presumably be up to the manufacturers. In the case of the simulcast channels, though, why not press 53 for ITV HD or 54 for Channel 4 HD, instead of just 3 or 4?
"They didn't change the format; they tweaked the encoders and it's now using some of the advanced features of H.264 that it didn't beforehand.
Still within the spec - just a part of the spec that some software writers chose to ignore, because no one was using it at the time. Strikes me as a slightly odd way to code software, personally."
so dont be shy Nigel, if you knwo the details please feel free to give them out as you know them now....
its nice to see these Elreg threads getting the *makover alongside some real techy posting for once so dont be shy...
other people will jump in and clarify what the techy stuff means if needs be for others not os techy readers to take onboard.
so what are exactly are you refering to , what tweaks?,
High profile at level 4.1 (short hand ,H@L4.1/HP@L41) 6mbit/s, AAC 2:! and/or 5:1
do these un-named tweaks reduce or increase efficiency in both your encoding and decodeing times and effort ?
with these BBC Encoder tweaks, do you/they produce something at least aproaching the current quality x264 output with all its new additions, patchs and speed fixes etc ?
and perhaps you follow and consider contributing to the x264 IRC dev channels and patches in time, http://gogloom.com/client2/index2?mainCHAT=1&network=FreeNode&channel=%23x264dev
for instance you might help out kierank with his statmux "master" x264 running in TS mode muxer code for core x264 inclusion some time ! take a look and share some of your TS DVB-*(2) muxer expertise...
*nice that theres now a reply to poster option but rather odd that it does Not actually seem to quote the poster for content you can edit down... still relying on cut/pase ohh well... its a good layout begining.
For the full technical details of the change, since I don't have them in my notes, I shall have to go back to one of my BBC engineering sources again - I'd rather be completely right than attempt to paraphrase from memory and make a hash of it, if we're going to get into real technical nitty gritty, but my recollection is that it's something to do with PAFF/MBAFF that caused issues with some PC codecs.
It's not, of course, the first time that software developers have skimped: look at the split NIT problem, which, in essence, could have been avoided by coding to the specs, which always allowed for multi-part tables. It crashed quite a few boxes because they were coded instead on the assumption that the single part NIT in use at the time was how it would remain.
Yes, HD should be available from relay transmitters. The multiplex that carries the HD services is one of the three PSB services, which are due to be carried everywhere (it was previously known as BBC Mux B, before the shuffling that enabled HD to launch).
As far as planning the switch to T2 before switchover commenced, sadly not that easy. T2 wasn't even a standard in the planning stages back then, when switchover plans were first made; the need to coordinate frequency use internationally means much of the plan was already drawn up several years ago. DVB-T2 was first demonstrated in 2008; it's a very new technology.
When OnDigital launched, ten years earlier, H.264 wasn't even a standard - the team to finalise it wasn't put together until late 2001. Work on DVB-T2 didn't begin until 2007 - two years after the DSO timescale for the UK was finally announced.
Just like buying kit, you could wait to announce a plan in case something better comes along, but then you'd never announce one.
So just as most of the non-technical population gets used to Digital TV, they change the rules again? This will just add more confusion to an already confusing environment full of half-truths and spin - you only need to see the comments above to see how many people don't understand how it's all working!
For the moment I'll stick with Satellite derived HD - mainly because they have the highest bandwidth.
On Freeview, the best thing that they could do is shut down all those little dodgy gambling channels and shopping channels, and increase the bandwidth available to the rest, meaning better picture. Of course, they won't do that as it would mean they would make less revenue to pay for the system. :(
Aside from the discussions over the encoders used at the broadcasters' end, and transmission resolutions and bitrates of the initial three HD channels broadcast over Freeview HD and how those details will compare with the same channels broadcast over satellite and cable, this comment from Nigel caught my attention:
"ITV HD... will be a peak time simulcast of ITV1"
Does this mean that ITV's peak-time content that is recorded in SD will be upscaled to HD (whatever that resolution will be, as I mentioned above)?
1. When will interlaced video die?
2. When will STB manufacturers produce SILVER boxes!! Not everyone has piano black A/V equipment. I refuse to get Virgin or Sky's HD service because their respective boxes are about as nice to look at as a 1982 VCR (and my silver Samsung Virgin SD box is small and silver).
@Pootle:"as satellite transmissions are not yet feeling the bandwidth pinch, they do not have a big incentive to change" not true. Whilst there is plenty of bandwith available there are two basic "types" available in the UK. The one that Freesat uses comes from Astra 2D and is a tight beam centred on the UK. There isn't much capacity left on that satellite and that's why C4HD is still Sky only (ie;Free to View not Free to Air).
The other 'type' of satellite broadcast covers all of Europe and that's why Freesat can't use it. If you broadcast FTA from that satellite you have to pay the rights holders a helluva lot more because you're broadcasting English language versions (ie;the prime versions) of everything to hundreds of millions of people.
With Astra 2D the rights holders by and large accept that it's only available in the UK (not technically true but it's harder to get outside) so they only charge for 60 million English-speaking people.
Yet another upgrade nightmare avoided by applying the things I do as part of my IT job to real life.
- If it ain't broke, don't fix it. (That keeps me off HD entirely until I see a need for it)
- If you *need* to upgrade, let all the other poor sods do it first to clear out the problems (That's sorted out all those expensive "new STB / Tuner / TV every six months" problems for me)
- Never buy *anything* before SP2 / second revision / second generation hardware (That's meant that I've entirely skipped Freeview and am waiting for the standards to settle on something that'll stick around for more than a couple of years).
Although, ultimately, what solved this problem for me was just getting rid of all the TV's and using BBC iPlayer / 4od (not ITV player until they drop the silly Silverlight requirement) and DVD content (not touching Blu-Ray - it hasn't yet met all the requirements above, and it looks like it'll just cause me trouble), also the 2nd/3rd rules saved me from all the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD debacle too!.
Seriously, what is this obsession with upgrading immediately? I just don't get it. Think old-style-NASA-hardware... once the tech has dug in for many years, *then* it's good to use, otherwise you just end up with buggy shite (can't tell you how often my dad's Freeview box crashes).
So far, just in terms of everyday technology, that philosophy has saved me from fighting with HD-DVD, Windows Vista (and before that Windows ME), Freeview, Daikatana, most semi-3G mobile technology, WEP encryption, all manner of countless things that were consigned to the dustbin of history. And you know what? I haven't suffered at all for the temporary lack of those things.
Excuse me while I go watch DVD's (with already-CSS-cracked players) on my laptop (XP, so no problems with RPC1 region-free DVD drives) perfectly every time...
It's a bit more nasty than locking up the EPG.
The idea is that ONLY approved PVRs would be allowed the EPG. A PVR is useless without an EPG. Also the EPG would prevent the PVR recording if desired.
The fact the raw video is not encrypted is irrelevant if some Sports or Hollywood Company is deciding what you want to record and watch later because you are out.
Catchup/iPlayer/VOD TV of broadcast programs on Internet is so incredibly wasteful, and only available to a proportion of users. Decent 2Tbyte PVR with several Tuners could even record EVERYTHING, so you don't even need to plan in advance... Quality VOD at up to 20Mbps...
The video will be unencrypted; non-compliant receivers will still be able to tune into it. Yes, they'll have no broadcast EPG - but then, plenty of PVRs and PVR software manage to work without one anyway, retrieving information from various online sources.
Personally, I would have imagined that most of the people capable of making something like Myth work would find it simple enough to set up an online EPG feed. With programmes in the clear, and only the EPG data encrypted, you'll be able to tune in, add net-sourced EPG and you'll have everything you need to record - just as Windows Media Centre and many other programs (and even the sacred Tivo) have managed for year, without an OTA EPG.
And as it's the OTA EPG that will contain the meta-data, rather than some artefact of the video streams themselves, what exactly is the problem? Other than the fact that you won't pick up last minute schedule changes or over-runs, you'll have a functioning PVR.
It seems to me that the merest whiff of the word "encryption" has made a lot of people panic and assume they won't be able to do this - but it should be perfectly possible.
Yes, only approved PVRs, get the EPG, and there may be content restrictions (just as there already are on Freesat - one copy of an HD show to Bluray, for example, unlimited copies in SD), but those don't seem to be causing major hassles for Freesat, frankly.
There is no encryption planned or proposed on Freeview HD. And nothing that's been proposed will stop users of non-approved equipment with an alternatively sourced EPG from recording what they want, when they want.
Incompetent regulators with no feeling for consumer sentiment and complicit cynical manufacturers of unupgradable hardware (some of which they even have the audacity to market as "green" technology) have contrived to create a PR disaster. Millions of recently upgraded licence payers are going to feel hoodwinked and will say "screw Freeview HD - I'm not pissing more money up the wall, I'm going to wait till Freeview XH3D comes out". And that will probably happen within 5 years.
For now all the looser-vision shopping channels and unnecessary "+1" channels should be switched off to make enough space for proper channels to be broadcast in HD using the DVB-T standard.
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