Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Catching up with the future of television

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  • 3410,

    Nah, there's Satellite (SD) or terrestrial (HD). It's all digital.

    That's what I meant. (God, I'm struggling.) Thanks for the advice, but...

    inbuilt Freeview means you can't record it, right?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Stuff n Things,

    Once you trim down the rubbish, there aren't THAT many choices. I understand that retailers have been foisting a lot of TVs on NZ that the Australia market is disinterested in now that their Freeview is up and running. By this I mean power-hungry plasmas without Freeview - hardly worth paying a premium for (but fine if you can get cheap).

    For a decent TV that will last, I reckon these are your minimums:
    - It should have a Freeview tuner in it. That'll cover you for high definition stuff, and will *probably* let you use your existing arial on the roof (do you get Prime already? If so your probably ok).
    - 40in+ is the sweet spot. Sure, you can get 30 something in, but 40 just looks great and really makes you feel you've got a flash new TV. And the high-def isn't as impressive on a smaller screen.
    - Apparently you won't notice the difference between 'full high def' (1080p) and 'ready for high def' (720p) on anything smaller than a 50" - but I reckon you may as well go 1080. Actually, if you are demanding a Freeview tuner, you'll probably find its 1080p anyway (1080 and 720 refer to the number of vertical pixels).

    Once you assume that these are your minimum requirements, your options tend to be Samsung, Sony or Panasonic. There's other optional stuff (100mHz, ability to stream internet built in), but that's probably not worth stressing about.

    I looked at all this stuff about 12months ago and ended up going with a Sony 42" LCD (I can't remember the exact model number - I think it was their W series - which is second from the bottom). About $2k (prob cheaper now) and it's great. There may be better TVs out there but I don't care - it works well and I have no regrets. It feels like it will last ages and it feels like a modern generation TV. The other night I noticed that it had magically added C42 to the channel list for me - I didn't have to do anything.

    Wellywood • Since Apr 2007 • 50 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    inbuilt Freeview means you can't record it, right?

    Correctomundo Threefer. If I may be so bold as to suggest building a HTPC to take care of the freeview recording? the cost works out little different to buying a freeview box and recorder and you get the added bonus of a proper computer to boot. Then mum can do all her eMailing and Goggling and such from the comfort of the couch.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4947 posts Report Reply

  • Stuff n Things,

    inbuilt Freeview means you can't record it, right?

    Yes, and this is definitely something to watch out for. To be fair, though - it's not the TV's fault that your video/DVD recorder doesn't have a Freeview tuner in it. We ended up buying a cheap HD tuner box to go under the TV, which we use to record shows whilst watching something else using the TV's tuner.

    Note re Freeview: SD=satellite dish and standard definition (same quality as a DVD). HD=arial on your roof, and means scrummy high def picture.

    Wellywood • Since Apr 2007 • 50 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    See, I thought "inbuilt freeview" meant you didnt need a set-top box.

    I dont think I can record (in HD) from my set-top freeview box can I? (which is implied by answering yes to the earlier question)

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • Stuff n Things,

    See, I thought "inbuilt freeview" meant you didnt need a set-top box.

    I should clarify: you don't need a separate box to watch TV.

    The thing is - 20 years ago your TV would have a tuner in it and your VCR had a tuner in it. You often linked the arial through both of them, but the point was that they could operate independently from each other. You didn't need to have the TV on to record programmes, and you did need a VCR to be able to watch TV.

    BUT, because we have gone with a fancier (but internationally less common) HD standard for our new freeview boxes, a lot of the electronics producers haven't got round to incorporating tuners that work with the NZ standard into their products.

    Now, if you have a DVD recorder with no tuner built into it, it is possible to use the tuner in your TV to record off, but it's such a pain you wouln't ever bother (for one thing, the TV would need to be on, and switched to the appropriate channel).

    That's why I reckon you shouldn't be buying new TVs (or recorders for that matter) that don't include the freeview tuner - it's just a cop out for the producers who haven't bothered to get with the programme. Of course, you can use one of the seaparate freeview boxes (or a Sky box) to get round this - but it that just adds another remote to the pile amassing in your lounge.

    ...And means that you have to explain to mum that she has to use THIS remote for changing channel and THAT remote for turning the TV on, and THAT remote for recording programmes.

    Wellywood • Since Apr 2007 • 50 posts Report Reply

  • Stuff n Things,

    I dont think I can record (in HD) from my set-top freeview box can I? (which is implied by answering yes to the earlier question)

    Technically no, you're not supposed to be able to record in high def from the Freeview approved products. As I understand it, their agreement with Freeview provides that they not send a high-def signal through the outputs on the unit.

    There are some non-Freeview approved products that don't follow this requirement, though, and I understand that some of the (very pricy!) new Panasonic recorders include the ability to record in high def.

    Wellywood • Since Apr 2007 • 50 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    @3410, Steve Barnes

    Our household hasn't been hooked up to free TV or Sky for many many months now. Makes life a whole lot better and avoids all the cr*p about what to buy as a bonus. We wonder why more people don't do it.


    P.
    who will re-lurk

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    I have Sky - because that's the only way I can get Maori TV on my part of the Coast. I am immune to tv advertising (my innoculation was working as a tv-director/producer trainee for a couple of years) and my thumb on the mute button is sooo fast-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I have Sky - because that's the only way I can get Maori TV on my part of the Coast.

    My Mum is getting Sky for the first time because she thinks that late TV is mostly shite. She is biting the bullet to just "do it". She wants a choice and I suggested Sky would be up her alley as she can tune in with the U.S as well which is a huge part of her life anyway.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6356 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    I have Sky - because that's the only way I can get Maori TV on my part of the Coast.

    I'd be surprised if you could not also get it using the same dish on your roof plugged into a satellite freeview decoder...

    Only ~10 channels instead of ~50, but no monthly fee. :)

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I'd be surprised if you could not also get it using the same dish on your roof plugged into a satellite freeview decoder...

    That's what the TV technician did when my partner got him around to look at our terrible aerial reception - sold her a freeview decoder and plugged it straight into the (not being used) sky dish.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6227 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Sky and satellite freeview come off of the same satellite which is what makes that work - Sky may not be happy about that but there's no way they can know

    Terrestrial freeview - if you can receive it - is still better - higher quality signals than from the satellite streams so see if you have good enough OTA reception (ask your neighbours) before choosing satellite

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2201 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I feel slightly embarrassed that I don't really care too much about hi-def. I got a lovely new full-HD 42 inch plasma late last year. But I've probably watched a grand total of about 20 hi def shows since then. I just doesn't buzz me that much. I got some BluRays from Fatso, and watched a bit of Freeview (built in), but really just don't get that thrilled by it. Not to the extent I'm prepared to pay hundreds to upgrade my MySky box or purchase a Freeview PVR. Yet. It will come, of course, but I think I've given it a fair go, and really, those hundreds were better spent on other things.

    For computer games, it's definitely way better. Just haven't been playing any recently - I'm as nervous as a reformed alcoholic near a bar.

    I expect sports in hi-def are much better too, but that's not something I spend any time on. Browsing the net using the PS3 was better, but still something I would rather do on my low rez netbook than use a controller, and read at 5 meters instead of 50cm. If I want to do serious computer stuff, I use my workstation, with dual hi-rez monitors, double mouse, ergonomic keyboard, comfortable chair, quiet room, etc.

    The bigger screen is awesome, though. That, I do appreciate. Everything is better on a bigger screen, unless you have to carry the screen around.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    because she thinks that late TV is mostly shite

    What, compared with the gems of the early eve?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    double mouse

    Sorry, I thought knew most geeky stuff, but what's a double mouse?

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Sorry, I thought knew most geeky stuff, but what's a double mouse?

    It's having two mice. So I don't have to keep swapping them round when I want to use my right hand for, say, writing or drawing on paper, or operating the numeric keypad, or holding the phone. It's especially handy when I'm working with someone else, I don't have to keep handing them the mouse.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I'd be surprised if you could not also get it using the same dish on your roof plugged into a satellite freeview decoder...

    You can, in fact, use the dish for both at the same time. Just make sure you use a splitter on the cable and pass the "powered" side of your splitter to the Sky box. There should have been no need for the power for the LNB (low noise blocker, apparently) but someone stuck the aerial the wrong way round on the satellite meaning all our channels are horizontally polarised where as Sky was supposed to be vertical. I think that's right but it doesn't matter now anyway.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4947 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    It's having two mice.

    OIC. Interesting - I've never seen that, but it makes sense.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I've never seen that, but it makes sense.

    Mostly, it's there because I often work with someone at my side. But since it's there, I have got into the habit of using it. It does give your dominant hand a rest, particularly if all you're doing is scrolling through something you're reading. Useful if I'm eating with a fork or a spoon too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    No downtime in Ben's office

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    It's probably the most self contained office of anyone I know. Fridge, kettle, water cooler, cupboard full of tools, alcohol, library, exercise equipment, bikes, some weaponry, even a boat. I've got a hammock, but I decided not to set it up, it could be just a little toooo tempting. My wife was also not amused at the idea ;-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Verily a survivalist dreamzone

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I prefer to think of it as a bat-cave.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • JD Shackleton,

    At least one friend has found the player crashing, but it's working fine for me.

    I've had nothing but bad experiences with the PS3 browser! It's slow and crashes often. The first attempt to watch a show with Ondemand crashed! If only I could install Firefox.

    Nelson • Since Apr 2010 • 4 posts Report Reply

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