/ Ditching cable TV and going freeview..advice

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 25 Jan 2013
In my bid to pursue austerity in the GoC household I am going to ditch my virgin cable HD tv boxes and go free view. Spending 600 a year and only watch the terrestrial channels anyway. It's madness.

One of the TVs has freeview installed already!
Anyway my question is this. I will need to purchase and fit an aerial plus a freeview box .

Is this relatively easy to do myself or am I better off paying for someone to come and install? I am pretty useless at DIY but keen and have most of the tools. Also access to the roof is not too bad from an extension on the back.

Also, any pitfalls or good products to look at?
Cheers

Jenny C on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Game of Conkers: Has the house already got an aerial from the pre-cable days?
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Jenny C: No it doesn't, so I need to purchase and install.
a lakeland climber on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Jenny C:

You'd need a digital specific aerial so even if it had one you'd be better off replacing it.

Ask at your local TV shop (not Currys) as they'll know which transmitter to point at. Fitting and aligning isn't a hard job but you really need a signal meter to ensure you are picking up the right signal - you could use the engineering screen on the STB as a guide: if you get a decent signal and picture then it's fine. It's not quite as precise as satellite signals but might depend on whether there's any interference.

ALC
The Lemming - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Game of Conkers:

How good is your computer and can you connect it to your TV?

I only ask as I have my computer plugged into my TV. I also have a digital TV card in the computer which is hooked up to an Ariel. Not only do I have access to all the digital channels, I also have the ability to live pause what ever I am watching much in the same way as a Sky+ box.

I also have a 14 Day listing where I can record what ever I want.

If I wasn't a Virgin subscriber then this would be my best bet as its considerably cheaper than any set-top box or YouView box.
Darkskys - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Game of Conkers: Are you keeping the fibre optic BB?
denis22111 - on 25 Jan 2013
Go on youtube and take a look at apple 2 TV gail Brocken.
The Lemming - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to a lakeland climber:
> (In reply to Jenny C)
>
> You'd need a digital specific aerial so even if it had one you'd be better off replacing it.

I don't think that's necessary. I'm using the same ariel that was on the roof when I moved in to my house long before the nation went digital and I'm very happy with the signal from it.
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Darkskys: Yes, I was planning on just keeping Virgin for broadband and telephone
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to The Lemming: I have a 3 year old Imac as a home computer
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to The Lemming: The computer is in the study though and I have a TV in both lounges. Would I need to hardwire the TVs to the computer? Or can it be done wirelessly? (One of my TVs is probably too old to potentially have a wirelss capability)

This is one of those situations where technology has passed me by ;-)
The Lemming - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Game of Conkers:

Can you get either a TV card or USB TV dongle for apple stuff?

I'm sure that some USB DVB-T receivers are mac comparable but don't quote me.
deepsoup - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to a lakeland climber:
> You'd need a digital specific aerial so even if it had one you'd be better off replacing it.

Not necessarily. No need if there's a strong signal. My (ancient) aerial works fine.

Mike Stretford - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Game of Conkers: I'd ring up and see if you can drop to the most basic tv package with Virgin (about the same as what you get with freeview). I think it works out at about the same if you have phone and internet from them too.
The Lemming - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Game of Conkers:

I have no idea about apple, but my Nephew has apple TV and can stream anything he wants to the telly.

I can only comment on Windows stuff, sorry. I have a cable running from my computer's TV card into the telly. The only connections that are worth using are VGA, DVI or HDMI. If your telly does not have any of those then your only option is a potential apple TV thingie.

Or buy a cheap second-hand computer and get a USB-DVB dongle to connect to a telly. It would be considerably cheaper and more versatile than a YouVue style set-top box.
gethin_allen on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to a lakeland climber:
"You'd need a digital specific aerial so even if it had one you'd be better off replacing it."
They say this, but I think it's mostly tosh unless you live in a poor signal area.
I have a little portable aerial sat on the windowsill and I get pretty much everything you can get. And my area is quit poorly covered for such things.

Jenny C on 25 Jan 2013
Thinking back we did have to replace our old TV aerial (very poor signal and only got 1-4 with terrestrial TV).

Bought a new freeview TV and only gained channel 5 :(

Upgraded the aerial and got 5 terrestrial channels, plus a wide selection of freeview ones.

One thing worth mentioning is that we are with Virgin for phone/broadband and are constantly bombarded by sales calls trying to get us to take their TV package.

Another suggestion is freesat TV which gives you extra benefits over freeview (and no monthly charges) but does require a satalite dish - not sure what a dish would cost, but you could put the money for an aerial towards that instead.
mkean - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Game of Conkers:
Fitting an aerial isn't hard (although manhandling a 6m pole with a high gain antenna on the top wasn't the most fun thing I did last year). You don't need a signal strength meter but it does make things easier, use the orientation of your neighbours aerials as a starting point or I seem to remember seeing a website that calculated bearings to your nearest transmitter from a postcode.

When you are running the cable make sure you leave a loop in it outside to stop water running down the cable and into the wall cavity.
mkean - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Jenny C:
I've used a few freesat recievers and they have been some of the most unfriendly bits of consumer electronics I've encountered. Most of them look like the user interface was coded in VB after a hard session in the pub. Any suggestions for an inexpensive non-crap one?
Neil Williams - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Jenny C:

Booster boxes are also useful.

FWIW, while Youview is not cheap, as a consumer solution to wanting to view Freeview, have a PVR and on-demand stuff I think it is absolutely excellent, and BT will give you a free box if you subscribe to their service for I think a tenner a month plus connection fee, which overall gives you the box for half the price they retail for.

It is very, very well designed, IMO - better even than Sky Plus.

Neil
The Lemming - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to mkean:
> Any suggestions for an inexpensive non-crap one?

Cheap second-hand one from fleabay or one that a relative is throwing out. Then use either Windows Media Centre or XBMC. Much more user friendly

a lakeland climber on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Jenny C:

Zone 2 dish, quad LNB and 100m of cable (smallest amount this outlet sold) + connectors was/is about 80.

ALC
captain paranoia - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to a lakeland climber:

> You'd need a digital specific aerial so even if it had one you'd be better off replacing it.

There's nothing particularly magic about the 'digital' TV RF signal that means it need some fancy new antenna technology. The only issue might be that an existing aerial doesn't have adequate gain in a low signal area; with analogue TV, this would just result in a slightly snowy picutre, whereas with digital transmission, it may push the signal to noise ratio below the threshold of the FEC, resulting in intermittent, or complete loss of programme. Prior to switchover, some digital transmissions were at low power, which is where the idea of needing a 'digital aerial' came from.

Since the switchover, transmitter power has been increased, since there is no need to balance between analogue and digital signals, and this problem is much less common; after all, the whole point about digital roll-out was that it was meant to ensure everyone could receive digital TV. See the references to 'low power multiplex' and 'high power multiplex' in the wiki page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_switchover_dates_in_the_United_Kingdom

The potential need for a better aerial during the digital roll-out is discussed in this obsolete article:

http://www.which.co.uk/technology/tv-and-dvd/guides/digital-switchover-explained/will-i-need-a-new-t...

For the OP, to find the nearest transmitter for you, go to

http://www.bbc.co.uk/reception/digitaltv/

If you don't have a TV licence, I might suggest not putting your own house number into the postcode/house number boxes... Living up to my online moniker...
yorkshireman - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to a lakeland climber:
> (In reply to Jenny C)
>
> Zone 2 dish, quad LNB and 100m of cable (smallest amount this outlet sold) + connectors was/is about 80.
>
> ALC

I did this, and spent 200 on a Humax PVR box which makes all the difference as we rarely watch live tv so having something record stuff for you is invaluable (we can't easily get iPlayer as we live in France)

It obviously depends on whether you have line of sight to the satellite, and whether you're happy with a dish on the side of your house.
EeeByGum - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Game of Conkers: You could just downgrade your service. We are now on the M+ package which is much cheaper. The only downside to moving away from Virgin is mega fast and reliable internet which I am loathed to do.
kirsten on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to EeeByGum: you can use your virgin box for freeview, I think the package is M rather than M+. Just did this, keeping the broadband.
Jenny C on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to captain paranoia:
> (In reply to a lakeland climber)
> ........The only issue might be that an existing aerial doesn't have adequate gain in a low signal area; with analogue TV, this would just result in a slightly snowy picutre, whereas with digital transmission, it may push the signal to noise ratio below the threshold of the FEC, resulting in intermittent, or complete loss of programme.

Really annoys me when this happens. Before digital turn off you just switched back to analogue TV and could still watch the programe (all be it in poor quality), now you loose the whole station :(
Martin W on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to a lakeland climber:

> You'd need a digital specific aerial so even if it had one you'd be better off replacing it.

Utterly untrue. There is no such thing as a "digital specific" aerial. The radio waves are exactly the same, which is all that matters to the aerial. All that's different is what's modulated on to the radio waves, and you need a digital tuner to sort that out (much like the difference between AM and FM - or indeed FM and DAB, and you'll notice that DAB radios have a ferrite rod and a stick aerial just like AM/FM radios).

Prior to switchover, when Freeview was being broadcast (from a limited number of transmitters) alongside the analogue channels, the digital multiplexes had to be broadcast on different UHF channels to those used for the analogue TV stations. Those extra UHF channels often fell outside the group of UHF channels used for analogue, so to receive them you needed a wideband aerial rather one optimised to receive the tighter group of UHF channels used for the analogue service. This lead to retailers labelling wideband aerials as "digital", although there was nothing about people's old aerials that made them unsuitable for digital TV beyond the fact that they couldn't receive the UHF channels that the digital multiplexes were broadcast on.

Now that there are no more analogue channels left, in 90% or more of the UK the digital multiplexes are broadcast on the same UHF channel groups that were previously used for analogue TV. (That's what happened in the Digital Switch Over events in each region - the digital multiplexes took over the old analogue UHF frequencies.) So an aerial that worked for analogue then will work for digital now.

End of rant.
Martin W on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to The Lemming:
> (In reply to Game of Conkers)
>
> Can you get either a TV card or USB TV dongle for apple stuff?

Yes. Got one hooked up to my iMac right here. I can record stuff from Freeview on the Mac, and stream it to my TV/PVR/BRD later (they all have DLNA clients).

Elgato are one provider of Mac-specific TV bits and bobs.
Martin W on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to mkean:
> (In reply to Game of Conkers)
> I seem to remember seeing a website that calculated bearings to your nearest transmitter from a postcode.

This one? http://www.wolfbane.com/cgi-bin/tvd.exe? Works with OS grid references as well.
Martin W on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
> (In reply to Jenny C)
>
> Booster boxes are also useful.

The kind that go behind the TV are a clumsy solution - although there's no denying that they do often work. A masthead amplifier is a technically better way to go, though, if you are in a really poor signal area.

Again, it's one of those things that carries a bit of a hangover from the pre-DSO days. Before DSO the digital transmissions were broadcast on restricted power because they had to keep 'out of the way' of the old analogue channels. That meant that people who wanted to get digital often did need to amplify the signal (I had to for my loft-mounted aerial). After DSO, with no analogue channels left to interfere with, digital transmissions could be broadcast at higher power and many people who used to need an amplifier found that they no longer did.

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.