Digital Switchover

Please note if you only watch cable TV or SkY TV this will not affect you.

WHY:

  • Analogue is old, Digital is new. There are many technological benefits of digital TV over analogue and this was inevitable
  • So the Government can licence (sell) more channels
  • What the BBC has to say about Digital Switch Over

Whatever the reason it is clear that with the advent of lighter flatter LCD and LED tvs the demand to wall mount TVs is growing. Safely positioning TVs out of the way on the wall to make more use of your valuable space.

WHEN:

This is happening on a region by region basis based on your ITV region and a rough schedule is listed below.

Actual switchover dates will vary, and an up to date list of information can be found here:- Digital Switch Over

NB: When the North West Switched over it there were THREE RETUNE DATES - There was a national retune in September 2009 to accommodate a change to the way Channel 5 and a few other stations were broadcast. The actual switch over started at the beginning of November 2009 and on one date half the channels disappeared off the analogue signal including BBC2. At the beginning of December 2009 the remainder of the analogue signal was switched off. In practice this meant everyone had to retune their TVs three times in two months!

The official reason given for two dates was that the signal spectrum could only be tested and refined once people were using it. Especially in areas of poor reception.

What are my options?

Your TV

If you have a TV which was bought before 2003, it probably won’t work. Some of the last CRT TVs (ie traditional sets) had digital receivers built in and are okay and also some of the first plasma and LCD TVs did not had digital tuners built in. Your options if your TV does not support digital TV is to either buy a new TV or buy a Set Top Box. If you have Virgin or Sky you may not need either. To be honest most Set Top Boxes are rubbish. The only good one is the Humax HDD recorder which allows you to record whilst watching another channel (see below).

Your Video (VCR)

It is possible to record using your Video however the extra equipment and complications mean you may as well get one of the new HDD recorders. To record after switchover you will need, a Set Top Box. There are are number of draw backs

  • You cannot watch a different channel on your TV if you are using the same Set Top Box. Option: Buy a second Set Top Box.
  • Programming to record while you are out is more complex. This is because you need to set both the Video and the Set Top Box to select the right channel at the right time and both must be switched on.
  • The time the programme starts, the time your Set Top Box switches over and the time your Video starts recording will not be in synch so you may miss parts of programmes.
  • Signal quality may suffer. Each time you switch from Digital to Analogue and vice versa the signal will deteriorate slightly. So (1) the Digital TV signal is turned into analogue for your video to record and (2) your recorder then out puts the recording to your TV. In most cases this is not noticeable but it can render the picture useless.

You can still do it, but it can be tedious. The two new options available are:-

  1. DVD Recorder with built in Digital Tuner
  2. HDD Recorder (Hard Disk Drive) with built in Digital Tuner

DVD Recorder

The quality of these and the usability of these recorders leaves a lot to be desired. Like a Video Recorder you pop a disk in instead of a tape but you also have to “format the disk” - this is actually quite easy but doesn’t always work. Modern DVDs can be re-recorded on time and time again. In practice a DVD recorder is ideal if you record programmes to keep them.

HDD Recorder

If you record programmes to watch and then discard, such as episodes of Coronation Street or Match of the Day then an HDD Recorder is ideal. To record what you are watching simply press the red record button! To schedule a recording you simply use the built in TV Guide to select the programme to record and when you want to play it back you find it in the list and watch it. No tapes, no disks no fuss. You can even see previews of what you have recorded if you are not sure which is programme is which. HDD Recorders take a little getting used to but once you understand it it really is very easy. I know from showing many retired pensioners what to do that anyone no matter how frightened of technology they are can use these devices easily if shown how.

Overview of Recording On an HDD Recorder