The following FAQ’s are intended to be a brief, non-technical discussion of some the most common questions asked about Digital TV by Antenna Wizards customers.
It is intended as a basic guide for people who live in the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie or Maitland areas and who have not completely upgraded their TV antenna system or equipment yet, or are having problems with their new digital equipment.
Free-To-Air TV has been broadcast in Australia using Analog signals since 1956.
Analog is now out-of-date and is being replaced by “Digital” transmissions.
“Digital” simply refers to the new method that is being used to broadcast and receive TV signals.
The whole World is switching to Digital TV transmissions and Australians need to prepare so they can access the benefits of the Digital revolution.
Digital has several advantages over Analog transmissions such as:
- Ability to transmit multiple channels.
- Standard Definition Channels (that provide better images & sound than Analog).
- High Definition Channels (higher resolution images & Dolby digital Surround Sound).
- Ghost & Interference free reception.
- Electronic Program Guides (EPG).
- Closed captioning (For Deaf & Hearing Impaired).
- Radio Channels (4 Digital radio channels are already available in the Hunter Area – ABC Digital Radio, ABC Digital Jazz, SBS Radio 1 and SBS Radio 2).
Currently Analog and Digital broadcasts are transmitted side by side.
This process is costly and inefficient and uses most of what is known as the “Broadcast Spectrum”.
Turning off Analog signals will free up a considerable amount of the spectrum so that it can be used for additional services.
Some examples of these additional services are:
- New TV networks
- Community based TV networks.
- Additional Radio channels
- Data casting services
- Interactive services
The terms “Analog” & “Digital” are currently used to differentiate between the two types of transmissions, but eventually once the changeover is complete, people will probably just call it “TV” again.
Analog transmissions will be switched off gradually around Australia between 2010 and 2013.
The currently scheduled Switch-off date for the Hunter area transmitters (Mt Sugarloaf, Charlestown and Cooks Hill) is November 29th 2012.
NB: For customers in the Lake Macquarie area utilising Central Coast transmissions, the scheduled Switch-off is between 1 July 2013 and 31 December 2013.
For more details of Switch-off dates visit the Switchover website: www.digitalready.gov.au
NO. Not if you don’t want to, but you will miss out on all the new Digital ONLY channels.
Existing Analog equipment will work until the Switch-off.
However, to receive Free-To-Air TV after the switch-off, you will need a TV or other equipment capable of receiving Digital signals.
You do not have to buy a new TV if you do not want to, because most existing TV’s are capable of receiving digital TV by adding a Digital Set Top Box.
NB: One Set Top Box is required for each TV you wish to convert.
Antenna Wizards recommend upgrading to Digital as soon as you are financially able to do so.
A Set Top Box is a device that enables you to convert the digital signals so that they may be viewed on your existing Analog Television (via an AV input).
Set Top Boxes range from the bare basic Standard Definition models (not recommended) to High Definition models and some with features such as Hard Disc Drive recording.
Antenna Wizards recommend that Set top boxes should at least be capable of receiving the High Definition channels as there is at least one HD ONLY channel available per Network – ONE HD, GEM, 7Mate on Prime, ABC 24 News and SBS HD.
Whilst the Government is recommending Set Top Boxes as the easy solution, we believe that Set Top Boxes are a stop gap only and would normally be the choice only if you are on a limited budget.
Antenna Wizards recommend for our more technologically-challenged customers that a the better alternative may be to upgrade to a combination unit with an integrated (built in) High Definition Digital Tuner, such as Video/DVD, a DVD Recorder/Hard Disc Drive Recorder or a stand alone Hard Disc Drive Recorder (PVR), as they require fewer cables, are easier to use and there are less remote controls to juggle.
For customers who can afford to do so replacing their old analog TV with a new Digital TV may be the best option.
Following is a guide to some of the equipment with integrated (built-in) Digital tuners that are currently available:
- Digital Plasma Televisions.
- Digital LCD or LED Televisions.
- Digital DVD Recorders.
- Digital PVRs (Personal Video Recorder) – also known as Hard Drive Recorders.
- Set Top Boxes (Standard Definition or High Definition) – some also have Hard Drives.
- Combination Video/DVD recorders – for those that still wish to play video tapes.
- TiVo – a Hard Drive Recorder that can be taught your preferences and automatically record shows for you. They have Twin Digital tuners which allow you to record 2 channels at the same time. A Broadband internet connection is also required.
At the top end of the market, with all the bells and whistles is a DVD/Hard Disc Drive Recorder with Twin Digital Tuners, allowing you to record 2 different channels and watch a DVD at the same time. Some models also come with Blu-Ray recording.
There are also some Digital TV’s available with built in Hard Disc Drive recording.
Antenna Wizards do not recommend one particular brand.
However we recommend that customers buy the best brands they can afford.
Cheaper brands are not recommended by Antenna Wizards as they have a tendency to break down easily and have poor warranty support.
It is better to stick with well known House-hold names like LG, Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, etc, or brands with the Digital “READY” or “FREEVIEW” labels.
Antenna Wizards recommend shopping around with the major retailers to get the best deal and advice.
Some brands are easier for more technologically-challenged people to use, so see if the Salesperson will allow you to try the product in the shop before buying.
We also suggest making sure that equipment has enough inputs and outputs for your requirements.
A good idea is to take some close up photos of your existing equipment (especially the back) and take that in to the shop with you to show the Salesperson.
There are so many features available that vary from item to item, so the best approach is to think about what you want to be able do before you go shopping, write a list if neccessary and ask a lot of questions.
Note that over time most digital equipment is expected to get cheaper (in the same way as computers do).
Additional and improved features may also become available.
HDMI cables (High Definition Multimedia Interface) are the way of the future. HDMI is capable of passing FULL HD pictures and Surround Sound via a single cable with no loss of signal quality. They look neater, perform better and are easy to connect. So make sure your new equipment has enough of them (for TV’s – at least 3 HDMI inputs and if possible a HDMI or Optical output for TV output to Surround Sound).
This is a different issue than Standard Definition VS High Definition (see above). In this case it refers to the screen resolution of the TV. The resolution of the TV is measured by the number of lines and pixels. The higher the resolution, the clearer and sharper the images.
A 1080i TV has a resolution of 1920 x 1080, made up of 1080 interlaced scanned lines.
A FULL HD TV has a resolution of 1920 x 1080, made up of 1080 progressively scanned lines or 1080p.
The difference between the 2 is the refresh rate. Interlaced alternatively refreshes half the lines at a time. Progressive refreshes all the lines together. However this happens so many times every second that you can not see it. It can however be perceived as a level of image quality.
1080p is quickly becoming the norm when you buy a new Digital TV.
Equipment retailers like to promote this standard as a superior viewing experience. However whilst it is particularly important if you plan on using a High Definition DVD player (Such as Blu-Ray DVD or even Sony Playstation 3), it should be noted that currently most Free-to-air Digital transmissions are only broadcast in 576i. Only the High Definition channels are broadcast in 1080i and none are broadcast in 1080p.
At the moment you can only expect to get the full benefit of a 1080p when viewing HD content. HDMI cables are also essential.
It is case of the lowest common denominator. Performance will be capped by the standard of cables used and input quality level.
The purchase of a FULL HD TV may help to “Future-Proof” your purchase.
For further information visit www.choice.com.au
There has been a long running argument regarding which type of flat screen TV is best – LCD or PLASMA. Similar to debates such as Ford VS Holden, both camps have their supporters.
Plasma Advantages: Displays black better. Better contrast. Wider viewing angles.
Plasma Disadvantages: Heavier. Bigger power consumption.
LCD Advantages: Lighter (easier to carry and better for wall mounting).
LCD Disadvantages: Light leakage between pixels. Can blur images in fast moving scenes. Expensive for big screen sizes.
Newer technology has narrowed the differences. It is now more about personal choice. Both TV’s produce excellent pictures.
For further investigation try the following websites:
Alternatively type “LCD VS Plasma” into your internet browser and literally thousands of websites are available discussing the topic.
Stop PRESS!! The new LED LCD screens have awesome pictures, are very light and are ultra thin. Check them out!!
LED TVs are most likely to replace both Plasma and old LCDs, as they have great pictures and are less power hungry.
So we can watch big screen pictures without killing the planet!!
The new Digital TV channel numbers have been selected and preset by the broadcast authority. With Analog people could tune channels to whatever number scheme they liked. With Digital the new preset numbering scheme will provide greater consistency. All but a few brands of new Digital equipment use the same numbering scheme. Set up of equipment has been simplified as Digital equipment automatically scans and locks in all the channels quickly and easily.
(Refer to our Digital Channel list- available on our website).
FREEVIEW is a joint advertising campaign by Free-to-air broadcasters to try to promote and drive the take up of Digital TV.
There is also the FREEVIEW labelling scheme (seperate from the Government endorsed Digital “READY” scheme) that may help to make sure products will meet a minimum citeria.
For more information on FREEVIEW visit www.freeview.com.au
NB: The above information was copied directly from the Australian Government Digital Switchover Website: www.digitalready.gov.au
There are some excellent reasons to convert NOW such as:
1) Digital only channels (as listed below).
- ABC 2 – Channel 22. Has Kids shows on during the day and some excellent documentaries at night. It includes a mix of new shows, archival footage and repeats of ABC1 shows.
- ABC 3 – Channel 23. Is initially slotted to to include at least 50% of Australian made content. This is expected to increase over time.
- ABC NEWS – Channel 24. Is a 24/7 News channel. High Definition only.
- HD ONE – (TEN Network) Channel 50. A 24/7 Sports channel. High Definition only.
- “GO” – (NBN Network) Channel 88. It includes a mix of Movies, Sci-Fi, Sitcoms, Crime/Law, Drama and Reality shows.
- GEM – (NBN Network) Channel 80. GEM stands for General Entertainment Movies. It will target “females 35+ and is expected to screen new shows, cult favourites and reruns. High Definition only.
- 7 TWO on Prime – Channel 62. A variety of programs including quite a few first run Prime time shows such as Lost, Heroes and 24, etc.
- 7mate on Prime – Channel 63. It is aimed at men aged 16-49. High Definition Only.
ELEVEN – A variety of programs. ELEVEN is the new exclusive free-to-air home of two iconic programs, Neighbours and The Simpsons, and will cater to a distinctly youthful audience with an exciting line-up of all-new episodes including Dexter, Futurama, The Office, Supernatural, Californication, Smallville, Nurse Jackie, 90210 and So You Think You Can Dance US.
For a complete list of available channels – go to our Digital TV Printable Channel List.
2) To avoid the rush in the lead up to the Analog Switch-off. (We anticipate that many people will have a substantial wait to get work carried out closer to the Analog Switch-off. It is expected that there will be an influx of less experienced installers to cater for the demand, leaving consumers exposed to poor workmanship, cheap parts and no ongoing Warranty or support.)
If your existing Analog reception is working ok, then Antenna Wizards recommend purchasing your new Digital equipment and trying it first.
Bear in mind that you may have to make some improvements to your existing system…but you won’t know until you try it.
That way you can see for yourself how the equipment performs and if any further work is required.
Most Digital equipment is easily set up, with a simple automatic scanning process.
If required Antenna Wizards can provide set up, installation and Testing services.
Installation methods have changed. In many cases, the ways that things were done for Analog are not good enough for Digital. Even a system that works well for Analog may need to be upgraded for Digital.
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy recently announced a Digital Satellite service called VAST (Viewer Access Satellite Television).
It will ensure access to Free-to-air TV for viewers in the remote Central and Eastern Australia as well as regional and metropolitan areas who are unable to receive their local service terrestrially.
More news on that as details become available.
The government has already provided assistance to people in the Mildura/Sunraysia regions in the form of the Digital Houshold Assistance Scheme.
The scheme involves a government contractor visiting an eligible household to supply, install and demonstrate a High Definition Set Top Box – specifically chosen to ensure that it meets the needs of the elderley and people with a disability – and conduct any necessary antenna and cabling work if required.
Households will be eligible for the scheme where they own a functioning TV, do not already have access to digital TV and at least one resident is in recept of the maximum rate of the:
- Age Pension
- Disability Support Pension
- Carers Payment or
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Service Pension or the DVA income-support supplement payment.
Eligible households will receive a letter inviting them to participate when their region is next to make the switch to Digital-only TV.
So that probably means in 2012 for Hunter residents.
More information on this as details become available
To organise your LOCAL Antenna Wizards Team for an Obligation-Free On-Site quote, call on the FREECALL number for your area for a FAST response.
NEWCASTLE – 1800 269 949
LAKE MACQUARIE – 1800 466 208
MAITLAND – 1800 339000