Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Digital Switchover

We have now gone digital – whoopee! Well maybe not quite so much enthusiasm, since it has cost us a small fortune and has totally confused The Better Half (TBH). Whilst she is very good with technical things compared to many people I have known, both male and female, and copes well with modern technology, this has overwhelmed her by sheer numbers. We have TVs in nearly every room and all of them but two were Analogue only. We also had the means of recording and timeshifting in the three most often used rooms, Kitchen, Living room and bedroom, also analogue only. We now have digital Freeview boxes attached to three of these as well as Personal Video Recorders (PVRs). The living room has now been equipped with a Freesat + box which has a built in PVR and a Freeview capable Wide screen Digital HDTV. HDTV is unexpectedly good. I was not initially enthusiastic and only got the HDTV because that was more or less all that is on offer in the shops.
Recording via a Freesat or Freeview PVR is a doddle, you select from the program guide and it is done.
Recording from a TV and analogue PVR via a set top box is not so simple. You have to set the Freeview box to the channel you want and then set the timed recording to record from the AV input, not a channel as you did in the past, and then remember to keep the Freeview box switched on and left on the channel that is broadcasting the programme you want to record.
So you can see why TBH has been a little confused, added to this complexity, most of the boxes we have are different manufacturers and there are subtle differences in the controls. Because I am a lifelong geek, and I set all this up, including fitting the Freesat dish, I have grown to understand it but I admit it is messy. Eventually all the TVs and PVRs will be replaced with DTV and it will become less complex,but that is a long term change only happening as the TVs and PVRs need replacing due to, as our leaders would put it, 'natural wastage'. In the meantime poor TBH is struggling up a steep learning curve.

The Digital Switchover in the UK is no less complex than our own personal set up.
Since 2008 the UK has been gradually introducing Digital TV and switching off the old Analogue signals. This has been going on in a seemingly very random manner. The official reason is that because we are a very crowded nation there were never enough channels to run a parallel service everywhere. Most areas had both services and so people living there could set up their digital reception gradually and get used to the new system without losing their familiar signals, but some areas only had the Analogue signals right up to the day of the switchover.
We happened to be in the USA on June the 12th last year when the USA went Digital. This happened right across the nation at 12 noon and went very smoothly as far as I could see. There were a few complaints but that is only to be expected, but they did better than 99% in effectiveness. I do not really understand why we did not do the same here in the UK.


  1. I can fully identify with TBH. I once considered myself quite a techie - but no longer; just not able to keep up. And we still have probably the smallest TV in the neighbourhood :} We were also probably the last family in the neighbourhood to get a dishwasher (just a month ago), and DOTH did have to repeat the instructions a number of times before I caught on.

    And I have always wondered about the HDTV thing. We are still on analogue - does this mean that one day we will turn on our TV and there will be nothing there, if we don't switch over now?

  2. Kaybee, Canada’s digital conversion, is scheduled for August 31, 2011 so you don't have to worry for a bit, but DTVs and Digital set top boxes should be appearing in your shops already. A set top box means you don't have to change the TV but then recording becomes a problem.

  3. Oh boy - I guess I will need to brush up on my techie skills after all! Thanks Snafu!

  4. I am no techie and all the cables and receptacles are the bane of my life! I have two large drawers full of cables, cords, little boxes and stuff I have no idea the name of and daren't throw away in case it is desperately needed one day. Kaybee, we have only one digital TV the other one has only half the channels, but we only watch one program on one channel on the digital once a week. Progress!