Freeview HD - your questions answered
All you need to know
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.
New Zealand's Freeview HD logo. What will Blighty' look like?
What do I need to receive Freeview HD?
You’ll need a TV or set top box with the Freeview HD logo. Getting the logo involves certification for both the video encoding and the transmission systems, as well as an updated version of the interactive (digital text) engine. Simply having a TV with the ‘HD Ready’ logo is not sufficient. You should also look out for the DVB-T2 logo.
When will it be coming to my area?
The first transmissions will start at the Crystal Palace and Winter Hill transmitters on 2 December 2009. In areas that have already switched off the analogue signal, HD transmissions will start over the next year, and roll out to other regions as switchover happens, with a few exceptions. Click here or the full timetable.
Will my existing ‘HD Ready’ set work?
Not without an external set-top box. The ‘HD Ready’ logo just indicates that the screen is capable of showing an HD picture, and that there are sockets that allow you to connect something producing one, like a Blu-ray player or an HD receiver. It does not mean that the tuner or decoder in the set is capable of understanding HD signals – there’s a separate (and seldom seen) ‘HD TV’ logo for that.
For a definition of the logos, see this crib-sheet (PDF).
So have I been mis-sold?
If you can be certain that someone sold you an ‘HD Ready’ set and told you it would receive Freeview HD when it launched, then maybe. The ‘HD Ready’ logo was defined in 2005, so sales assistants should know what it means by now, and it’s been clear for over a year which technology the UK would use to receive HD – and that it ruled out equipment designed for HD in other countries.
I'll get back to you...
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.
DVB-T2 will provide 67% higher bitrate in the UK.
@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.
one more day and counting
just a reminder incase you forgot
one more day before winterhill goes live, and counting
still no kit to buy or play with, sad.
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.
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.