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No Freeview HD kit in time for launch, warns telly exec

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It's now clear that you'll need a new TV or set-top box (STB) to pick up Freeview HD. However, Register Hardware has learned that compatible kit won’t arrive in Blighty in time for the service’s debut early next month.

Richard Lindsay-Davis, Director General of the Digital TV Group (DTG), has admitted to us that “at this stage we can’t guarantee any [DVB-T2] receivers in the UK market before Christmas 2009”.

The news will come as a blow to early adopters living in London or Manchester, the first UK cities set to receive the Freeview HD signal, on 2 December.

While Freeview is based on DVB-T technology, Freeview HD uses DVB-T2 which uses the MPEG 4 AVC video codec. While manufacturers are developing STBs and TVs with the new tuner inside, Lindsay-Davis said that the DTG doesn’t expect such products to be available in the UK until at least January or February next year - and possibly later than that.

He also said that a Freeview HD STB – your only option if your don’t want to replace an HD TV with built-in Freeview – will likely cost “a little more” than an existing Freeview STB.

There is some good news in store, though, provided you’re a football fan.

Lindsay-Davis explained that, rather than a formal launch, the 2 December launch is essentially a test run for the service designed to ensure good quality of service and a strong signal in time for the 2010 World Cup. ®

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Next page: 2011

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