Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: On Telly, Telly Off

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  • Tim Michie,

    As I've had past periods without TV and can do without, have a dying CRT (bought on the cusp of LCD becoming affordable) and am expecting some inflation on units in December, I'm experimentally keeping the analogue running to see if anyone hijacks some frequesncy. Just to see what there is to see and report even if it's nonce. As I don't download, pressure to buy won't strike until Christmas discounts.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • izogi,

    I’m not sure how many CRT sets are still out there – you can’t even give them to op shops these days – let alone vintage cabinets from the 70s stuck on TV One, but Tim’s right, they’ll be out there.

    I think there must still be a fair few, given the reaction you can still see on the Stuff comment threads whenever there’s a mention of (eg) prisons getting flat screen televisions in their common areas…. as if the "flat screen" part of a TV is somehow more of a luxury for prisoners than the dollar savings on retail, energy and maintenance are for taxpayers over a CRT.

    We’ve had a UHF-capable digital TV for ages, took it to Australia and bought a PVR there, and yesterday we bought our first PVR here. We’re still figuring things out, and getting some dodgy terrestrial reception with the channel scans, despite being in J'ville and having direct line-of-sight to the top of the transmitter on Kaukau.

    It’s a bit of a disappointment how NZ’s Freeview certification requires that approved PVR manufacturers to arbitrarily cripple things like time-skip buttons. We bought ourselves this Samsung thing which has some useful internetty features to go with the twin terrestrial tuners, but which it also seems can only fast-forward or rewind at about a fixed 3x realtime speed. It’s only day one. Hopefully I’m missing something.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to izogi,

    and getting some dodgy terrestrial reception with the channel scans, despite being in J’ville and having direct line-of-sight to the top of the transmitter on Kaukau

    For fairness I should also add that there doesn't appear to be any antenna on the roof of the 5 year old rental that we shifted into, despite having two TV outlet thingees in the main room and one in a bedroom, so presumably with cabling in the walls. We'll really need to ask the landlord about that, who conveniently also built the place. It might just be an issue of mounting a better antenna in somewhere.

    There's a satellite dish on the roof (and additional corresponding outlets inside), but if our hardware even worked with a dish to begin with, I've also read on NZ's FreeView website that you can only get HD FreeView via terrestrial.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to izogi,

    as if the “flat screen” part of a TV is somehow more of a luxury for prisoners than the dollar savings on retail, energy and maintenance are for taxpayers over a CRT.

    Not to mention that for quite some time it's been impossible to buy a TV with a screen that's not flat.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22761 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I'm surprised that so many people use the signal to the tower rather than the signal to the satelitte. Is that through choice because it offers more, or avoiding the cost of installing a dish on the house?

    We had a sky dish on the roof when we brought our house, so just brought a freeview box to run off it when we moved in.

    Within a couple of months we'd been sucked in by mysky and haven't looked back since, so it's in the spare room with the spare TV now if the kids want to watch something right now.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to izogi,

    the dollar savings on retail, energy and maintenance

    And flat screens don't smash up like glass CRTs.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    Hi Kyle.

    I’m surprised that so many people use the signal to the tower rather than the signal to the satelitte. Is that through choice because it offers more, or avoiding the cost of installing a dish on the house?

    For us several years ago, in a rental home, installing a satellite dish would have been a pain without a benevolent landlord. The UHF reception worked “well enough”, and when we went TV shopping at that time, we discovered that if you wanted a tuner built-into the device, you’re basically chained to terrestrial. And sometimes it’s nice to be able to have things built-in, for things like using a TV’s own channel changing functionality. Are there any TVs on the market today which have built-in Freeview satellite decoders? (There weren’t a few years ago, at least.)

    Even yesterday, when we were definitely shopping for a separate box, it looked as if the only satellite ones available were those specifically designed for Freeview-via-satellite and not much else. They might have an internal HDD for recording functionality if you’re lucky, and it would cut down your options a lot. There’s some variety in New Zealand beyond DishTV offerings (which come with very mixed online reviews about their usability if you want to do anything other than watching live TV), but not much. If we wanted anything else without buying an additional box, like a certain amount of useful internet connectivity, all those units from the likes of Samsung, Panasonic, and so on, only seem to come with terrestrial UHF tuners.

    It’s totally possible that our experience is different from other people’s, and I’m keen to know what else is out there. I was on the edge of trying to build my own MythTV box instead of relying on the commercial offerings, but decided it’s probably more of a hobby for later after some research. We’ve had so much happening lately that we’ve really not had much time to research the modern local market.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    I'm surprised that so many people use the signal to the tower rather than the signal to the satellite. Is that through choice because it offers more, or avoiding the cost of installing a dish on the house?

    Remember that the signal from the tower is higher bandwidth than the signal from the satellite - that meansas a rule, more mpeg compression on the satellite signal and not as high a quality (YMMV depending on the channel).

    We have cheap dishes in NZ (one simple LNB, all polarised the same way) that means that we have less satellite bandwidth available for local TV than say in the US (where most TV uses 2-4 satellites and every other transponder polarised differently so they can squeeze them in a bit more) I suspect that Sky's running close to its capacity throwing another satellite up wont help without replacing every LNB (the little receiver knob in the middle of the dish)and rewiring every house (or at least every house with mysky) in the country - (building a new house, wiring it for Sky? stick in 2 sets of coax rather than just 1)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2609 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    BTW - be careful when you see mention of "Dish-TV" online - one of the two major US satellite operators is called "Dish-TV" AFAIK they have absolutely nothing to the settops of the same name sold in NZ

    I've always been a bit amazed there's not been some sort of trademark suit there

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2609 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to kiwicmc,

    Those vintage rabbit ears are awesome! Alas nothing on trademe....

    I love them and can't bear to part with them (like my pink-painted 50s fan heater, which is loud, slightly whiffy and probably a fire hazard in every possible way, so I never use it, but... pink! With rounded edges! And little bakelite feet!). Also, the last time I plugged them in to something relevant they actually worked. Perhaps in our post-apocalyptic hellscape when we've lost all digital capability there will be some analogue broadcast TV and they'll come in handy.

    On another note, I have... problems... with "I, personally, never watch broadcast TV and therefore it has no value and should DIAF" arguments. Elitism makes me twitchy.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie, in reply to Danielle,

    Agreed. As it said in my Jetsons storybook, "Never is a very long time."

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Danielle,

    I, personally, never watch broadcast TV and therefore it has no value and should DIAF

    I was never really arguing that.

    When broadcast TV was instigated, there was no way to implement television other than by putting antenna on various hilltops and allocating maybe 20MHz of bandwidth to three or four channels. That was pretty expensive, and restricted viewing to those channels, for which the selection of programmes became a matter of national import.

    Now we have the technology to offer an infinite amount of choice cheaply - the only constraint is the content's creation and availability.

    Why will we keep the old system - unless it's to keep a large number of people thinking the same way as a result of having common social stimuli for a large chunk of the day?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I wasn't responding to your post, actually, more Slarty's.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Howard Edwards,

    Am trying to get to grips with the whole analog/digital/terrestrial/satellite/dish/UHF aerial/Freeview/SKY/built-in Freeview/Freeview box/MySKY/TIVO issue right now. Feeling hopelessly confused!

    Present setup:

    1. House has two CRT TV sets, one plugged into old analog socket on wall, other with two inputs plugged into a) same plus b) SKY box (not MySKY) attched to SKY satellite dish. Have tried a Freeview box with analog TV, does not recognise signal on either the wall socket or the SKY dish antenna - does this mean we need a UHF aerial for the house? The current aerial looks like a UHF but how does one tell?

    2. Cottage has its own SKY dish (but no antenna) with socket. Tenants have digital TV with Freeview built in, cannot get signal on SKY dish, uses coax cable running up wall, can get some but not all Freeview channels (e.g. no PRIME). They have just bought a secondhand TIVO box yesterday. I have purchased a UHF antenna today and will install it on the cottage in the weekend - I hope it works!

    Albany • Since Apr 2013 • 66 posts Report Reply

  • anth, in reply to Danielle,

    I have… problems… with “I, personally, never watch broadcast TV and therefore it has no value and should DIAF” arguments.

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/area-man-constantly-mentioning-he-doesnt-own-a-tel,429/

    Since Nov 2006 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew C,

    I’m not sure how many CRT sets are still out there

    We have them. And each time they break down I pop onto trademe and pick another one up for under 10 bucks. Why? Young kids. Fists, balls, bats, you name it - they all end up in contact with that screen at some stage. Our options were to buy LCD and hang it on the wall which is not really in great line of site for little people, or stick with CRT.

    and I’ve actually never experienced rainfade on a terrestrial signal.

    Lucky you. With bunny ears we had a dreadful time with the Kordia stream. Drove us crazy.

    Auckland • Since May 2008 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Howard Edwards,

    Am trying to get to grips with the whole analog/digital/terrestrial/satellite/dish/UHF aerial/Freeview/SKY/built-in Freeview/Freeview box/MySKY/TIVO issue right now. Feeling hopelessly confused!

    So one thing to realise - Sky and Freevoew satellite come off of the same satellite (in fact they are the same channels - TV1 and the other freeview channel is carried unencrypted on Sky and freeview tunes to it)

    That means that your old Sky dish (assuming it's working) should work perfectly well for both - of it's not working something's broken or missing

    As I mentioned above if you have a good terrestrial signal you should use that rather than Sky satellite - the terrestrial steams are higher quality than the satellite ones

    If you're using an external settop box you should use an HDMI cable if at all possible, otherwise use a component cable (3 YPrPb plus 2 audio cables). If you find yourself using composite or s-video in this day and age you're doing it wrong (of have a really really old TV).

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2609 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew C, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    if you have a good terrestrial signal you should use that rather than Sky satellite – the terrestrial steams are higher quality than the satellite ones

    Do you mean HD, or just a better all round signal quality?

    Auckland • Since May 2008 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Grevers, in reply to anth,

    Ok, I won't mention that we haven't watched broadcast TV for 4 years then.

    New Plymouth • Since Jul 2011 • 143 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Richard Grevers,

    no medals

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19697 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Now we have the technology to offer an infinite amount of choice cheaply – the only constraint is the content’s creation and availability.

    Why will we keep the old system – unless it’s to keep a large number of people thinking the same way as a result of having common social stimuli for a large chunk of the day?

    I think it's still the case that broadcast, once the infrastructure is in place (which it is) scales better than IPTV. But the policy around frequency allocation is a bloody mess that allows Sky to hog frequencies and game the whole system. It's insane that Stratos could not get a Freeview terrestrial slot at all, never mind the cost.

    I think one solution lies in new IPTV-capable Freeview decoders. Quickflix is preparing an on-demand "channel" to go in the Freeview EPG and there's basically no limit to the number of possible IPTV offerings. Imagine the Herald being able to deliver its live-event streams to TVs. It's a game-changer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22761 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I think it’s still the case that broadcast, once the infrastructure is in place (which it is) scales better than IPTV.

    I do think there's a growing market for some sort of netflix like arrangement where you pay a subscription, or buy either channels or shows, and then just pick what you want to download to your box. Those people who only want sky for the HBO channel etc.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Pete,

    Threw my telly out when all that reality tv malarky started and don't regret it.
    Since Te Internet I've been loving House of Cards, OITNB, Orphan Black and lots of shows, ad-free.

    It's not elitism, I absolutely abhor advertising. Being yelled at and condescended to and have my favourite movie cut to 3min segments?

    Yeah, na.

    I happily pay a subscription to a couple of net services (podcast and news site) and I can see the world moving that way - I hear that 30% of US traffic is Netflix?

    Since Apr 2008 • 106 posts Report Reply

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