A high definition journey

Introducing Scott Palmer, second MyFreeview|HD reviewer

, posted: 24-Sep-2009 11:26

When I was approached by Mauricio from Geekzone a few months ago regarding trialling a MyFreeview|HD Digital Television Recorder (DTR) I jumped at the opportunity.

I have eagerly followed the progress of Freeview in New Zealand through its deployment, commissioning, public launch, new channel additions and marketing endeavours. Freeview has come a long way in its few years of existence and is providing a significantly improved replacement of our long-serving free to air analogue TV service (which will cease to exist in a few years.)

There are a number of terms incorporating the word “Freeview” which will be used through this blog, these are the main ones in a language I hope you can understand:

Freeview – The overall umbrella name for New Zealand’s new digital free to air TV service. This service is replacing analogue TV and is provided via both satellite and land based transmitters;

Freeview|HD – The service provided by the land based transmitters. This service provides a higher quality picture than is provided by the satellite service;

MyFreeview|HD Digital Television Recorder (DTR) – A “black box” which looks like a DVD player that you plug into your TV. You have to have one of these boxes to make the MyFreeview|HD magic happen.

Freeview have secured a wide range of channels including all the current free to air channels (TV ONE, TV2, TV3, C4, etc) plus many more channels which cater to a wide variety of interests. Prime was recently added to the lineup, an absolutely essential inclusion that took a while to appear. There has also been innovation in the form of TV3 PLUS 1, a channel which replays everything that appears on TV3 with a 1 hour delay (for example, the 6pm news is on TV3 PLUS 1 at 7pm). Full details of the channel line up can be found here on Freeview’s website.

The digital nature of the Freeview signal means that the picture quality is a significant improvement over analogue TV and the quality is consistent. Freeview|HD is not only a digital signal but a higher resolution picture, though this resolution does vary from channel to channel and program to program. To give you an idea, the difference between watching analogue TV and Freeview|HD is comparable to the difference in picture quality between watching a movie off a video tape versus watching a movie off a DVD (the specifications of your TV will dictate the quality of the picture you see).

The ability to be able to sit down and choose what I want to watch from the coming weeks scheduled programs is the main attraction of MyFreeview|HD for me. I want to be able to watch what I want to watch, when I want to watch it. I am not usually home when the shows I want to watch are on (Murphy’s law!) and when I am home and want to watch TV, I usually struggle to find something I want to watch. The addition of a DTR to my TV setup solves this problem. The DTRs also have the ability to record one channel while you watch another for those times when you have two programs you want to watch being broadcast at the same time!

Overall, the MyFreeview|HD proposition is a very enticing one. Great picture quality, more channels, the ability to easily schedule programs to record without having to muck around with video tapes or blank DVDs, the ability to record one channel and watch another, the list goes on! I’m off to set up my DTR, details to follow shortly ...

About the author: Scott Palmer works in the emergency services field at a large industrial site south of Auckland and has previous experience in consumer electronics retail and IT distribution. As a shift worker he has plenty of time at home to watch TV but the shows he wants to watch inevitably aren’t on at a time he is able to sit down and watch them. Scott is looking forward to putting the MyFreeview|HD DTR through its paces and providing useful commentary to the readers of this blog.


Other related posts:
Unpacking and Installing the Zinwell ZMT-640 PVR








Comment by Phil Faidley, on 24-Sep-2009 12:41

Great review Scott. Even I could understand the plain English - thanks.

I am looking forward to how you feel Freeview|HD compares to a number of different HD programming and recording options that are or will soon be available to New Zealanders:

Firstly, I have good old fashiond SKY Digital and a DVD Recorder. Yes, I know the limitations of being able to only record one SKY program at a time, but I can live with it. I am also aware of many of the Freeview channels not being on SKY (yet). The obvious point, of having to pay for SKY each month, but not for Freeview, after the initial investment, is also not forgotten.

The extension of the SKY experience into the whole MySKY HD facility would, in my mind, equal many of the benefits of Freeview|HD. Do you agree?

Then, of course, there is the impending launch of Tivo by Telecom. While I do not have a lot of time for Telecom, and I have heard a number of negative comments about Tivo from the US, how do you think this will impact the service and qualilty investment into Freeview?

Cheers
Phil


Comment by scottpalmer, on 24-Sep-2009 13:34

Thanks for the comments Phil.

You may well find those comments and questions touched on in a future blog.


Comment by mentalinc, on 24-Sep-2009 13:41

Hey Scott

From your post:
"MyFreeview|HD Digital Television Recorder (DTR) – A “black box” which looks like a DVD player that you plug into your TV. You have to have one of these boxes to make the MyFreeview|HD magic happen."

A DTR is not a must have. The DTR is the nice to have option to get Freeview HD. A normal STB will provide all the joys without the abilty to record.


Comment by pebbles, on 24-Sep-2009 16:27

ah but as you will notice mentalinc Scott said the box was a must have for MyFreeview|HD which is true. as MyFreeview and plain Freeview are two different products as such.


Comment by gustov, on 28-Sep-2009 14:02

Thanks Scott for your review. Yes the EPG is good, but its usefulness continues to be undermined by TVNZ and Media Works channels deliberate commercial (advertising) decision to start programmes late and have programmes end later than advertised.

So you always have to manually add on an extra five minutes recording time at the end to avoid missing the conclusion of the programme.

The other related problem is that the automatica labelling of programmes via the EPG is ruined because when the recorder starts for (say)a one hour show at 8pm, it labels the programme whatever is currently playing, but because the show that should have concluded at 8pm is running late and still playing, you end up with that title on your recorded programme list, not the title you want.

TVNZ 6 + 7 have no paid advertising and the EPG works perfectly everytime, for those channels.

TV1, TV2, TV3, have a lot to answer for, for ruining this aspect of the EPG.


Comment by gustov, on 28-Sep-2009 14:03

Thanks Scott for your review. Yes the EPG is good, but its usefulness continues to be undermined by TVNZ and Media Works channels deliberate commercial (advertising) decision to start programmes late and have programmes end later than advertised.

So you always have to manually add on an extra five minutes recording time at the end to avoid missing the conclusion of the programme.

The other related problem is that the automatica labelling of programmes via the EPG is ruined because when the recorder starts for (say)a one hour show at 8pm, it labels the programme whatever is currently playing, but because the show that should have concluded at 8pm is running late and still playing, you end up with that title on your recorded programme list, not the title you want.

TVNZ 6 + 7 have no paid advertising and the EPG works perfectly everytime, for those channels.

TV1, TV2, TV3, have a lot to answer for, for ruining this aspect of the EPG.


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What is this blog about?

Welcome to MyFreeview|HD Review! It’s almost like a “reality show” online. For the next four weeks we are going to follow three people experiencing high-definition digital TV, recording their experiences with three different MyFreeview|HD devices. This blog is sponsored by Freeview but the blog posts are by no means influenced by the company. Here is how it works: I had to chose three people from the Geekzone community to try and report their experiences with the devices, broadcast quality and anything else related to using the service. So I found my three candidates and each received a different model, courtesy of Freeview. Here are the reviewers: Suzi Heath (Magic TV 3500 DTR), Tony Hughes (Homecast HT9200DTR), Scott Palmer (Zinwell ZMT-640 PVR), and Nick Parfene (JCMatthew DVT-320T).

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