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Topic # 13352 5-May-2007 23:56
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Hi y'all

We've had rubbish reception for ages in the rental apartment I'm living in. There's no outdoor aerial for this specific property but I recently found out that we all share a Sky digital satellite receiver.

So I bought a Freeview decoder, plugged everything in and was pleasantly surprised that the set up was pretty easy.

However, I was a little disappointed with the quality. After being touted as 'crystal clear' it's like watching a DivX movie blown up on our 40" LCD TV - it looks OK from a distance but if you look closely there's lots of colour artifacts and the digital picture has a lot of noise in it ... were my expectations too high or are other factors making my reception poor? Occasionally, about once every two hours I think, we get 'stutters' where the picture and sound freezes for a couple of seconds then resumes again. I noticed that when I set up the box it said that we had 90% signal and 100% quality - whatever that means. 

Does sharing a satellite (amongst seven other apartments) impede on the quality of the received transmission? Is using a Sky dish giving me sub-optimal results compared to a dedicated Freeview one? Is it just my nice big TV that amplifies the flaws?

Would Sky Digital give better results? They have a basic package that has Freeview + Prime - would their signal look much better?
 
Thanks in advance for any suggestions !

Cheers
Dave



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  Reply # 69667 6-May-2007 10:42
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Freeview has just the same quality as good reception of SKY and normal TV. 720x576

So if you are watching this on a large LCD or plasma, in my opinion it will look like rubbish.

Large LCD's and Plasma are made for high definition signals, which Freeview is not (yet). People watching on a normal TV in your average reception area, would probably notice an improvement on the signal quality.

In regards to the setup you have, you may have issue's with how it is shared in your buidling. You will need to talk to the building manager to see how it has been wired up exactly.

Sky would not neccessarily give better results.

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  Reply # 69672 6-May-2007 12:06
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You don't say how you have connected the decoder to the TV, i.e., RF (puke), composite (not great), S-Video or component (preferably). Stretching the picture is a mistake, if it is 4:3 ratio as it is on TV1, TV2 and Maori then set the screen to 4:3.

I have a Topfield FTA decoder connected to a Philips 32PF9531 via component and the image is noise free. I was quite impressed given it is only 576i and I watch from 7 feet away. Philips picture processing causes more noticable issues. I don't watch stretched images. High definition, probably 720p, will come with the DVB-T H264 (mpeg4 part 10) service to start in March.

N.B. If you have a Freeview decoder connected to a dish and Ku band low noise block (LNB) shared by splitters then you render useless any Sky decoder that is connected. This is because the Freeview transponders are horizontally polarised and the decoder sends 18V to the LNB. Sky transponders are vertically polarised so the LNB requires 13V.




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  Reply # 69673 6-May-2007 12:14
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P.S. The bitrates from the Freeview tranponders are higher than the bitrates from the free to air Sky transmissions, i.e., TV1, TV2, Maori. This is noticable on Maori TV very easily. TV3 and C4 are encrypted on Sky so I haven't done a comparison on the LCD TV I'm watching Freeview on.





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  Reply # 69680 6-May-2007 13:18
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I recently found out that we all share a Sky digital satellite receiver.


Are any of your neighbours sky subscribers?  When you plug in your freeview box, are they losing their SKY feed?

I was living in an apartment block a couple of weeks ago with a shared sat dish and I pluged in my sat card to pull off the channels.  I wasnt able to get all the freeview channels though, only TV1 TV2 and Maori, so I assume the shared sat was vertical pol only. 

The picture looked fine on my 42" SD plasma, but I was pushing out to the screen at its native resolution (848x480) so there was obviously some processing on the signal before it reached the screen.

I'm looking forward to trying it out with the freeview transmission shortly - but I was happy enough with what i saw from the sky frequencies so i doubt i'll be disappointed.

Are you getting all freeview channels, or just the three - TV1, TV2 and Maori? 




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  Reply # 69682 6-May-2007 13:33
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Are any of your neighbours sky subscribers? When you plug in your freeview box, are they losing their SKY feed?

I was living in an apartment block a couple of weeks ago with a shared sat dish and I pluged in my sat card to pull off the channels. I wasnt able to get all the freeview channels though, only TV1 TV2 and Maori, so I assume the shared sat was vertical pol only.

The picture looked fine on my 42" SD plasma, but I was pushing out to the screen at its native resolution (848x480) so there was obviously some processing on the signal before it reached the screen.

I'm looking forward to trying it out with the freeview transmission shortly - but I was happy enough with what i saw from the sky frequencies so i doubt i'll be disappointed.

Are you getting all freeview channels, or just the three - TV1, TV2 and Maori?


If you tried this before launch you would have found that there was no channel 3 and C4 as they only started braodcasting acouple of days before launch. You should be able to get al channels now.

Your SD plasma would like fine, just as would any traditional CRT TV. Its the HD LCD's and Plasma's that can make Freeview/SKY/Saturn look substandard.

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  Reply # 69687 6-May-2007 14:51
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Your SD plasma would like fine, just as would any traditional CRT TV. Its the HD LCD's and Plasma's that can make Freeview/SKY/Saturn look substandard.


It is my observation that most HD panels (plasma or LCD although more LCD) make SD images look bad. I somehow think that their deinterlace/scaling engines are optimised for HD, or I guess more importantly its easier to scale down a higher res and it still look good than pullup a lower res and not make a hash of it.

I was intrigued recently to attend a clients home, they had a 47" rearpro CRT and were replacing it with a well respected brand 42" HD plasma panel. The Rearpro CRT was a 100Hz model. When viewing them sideby side from Sky using a common Component video feed it was quite plain to see that digital panels have a long way to go. The CRT looked just as crisp but did not have the same motion artifacting and colour postorisation problems that the plasma was having. Concidering that the CRT was scaling a few inchs larger than the plasma its a worry.

Everyone bags digital broadcasters for their low bit rates giving them bad pics, but doesnt look at the flaws of their own kit. To ever expect a broadcaster who is encoding live with interlace material (rather than progressive film source) to come up to the picture quality levels of a good DVD is wishful thinking.

For me personally I have both 32" CRT displays and a LCD PJ running a 92" screen. FreeView on the CRTs is not much different to Sky, on the PJ the FreeView channels are distinctly better, but not by a big margin.

Finally I am not impressed with large digtal panels, both Plasma and LCD, however my observation is that small LCD panels as used in PJ (and DLP ones for that matter) leave large panel displays for dead when it comes to picture quality especially when fed with low to mid bit rate broadcast images. Not to sure if its because PJ's get better digital processing compared to panels or if its panel response related. Even though Plasma panels dont have a much an issue with response time they do have issues related to the modulation signalling used to scale their output level.

Cyril

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  Reply # 69689 6-May-2007 15:38
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I guess my experience is different. I like the quality of Freeview, especially TV3, when output over component to a RP screen. Of course I am comparing it with TCL cable so that might not be quite the best comparison :-(

I am not a fan of LCD or Plasma - I find the pixel structure annoying, even with the newer 1080p sets. OTOH I quite like the LCoS SXRD that Sony has, especially the 1080P models and on a recent US trip I was also quite impressed with the 1080p D-ILA sets that JVC have (fed by a BluRay player outputting 1080p). There is hardly any discernible pixel structure on those screens.

But I would agree with Cyril - SD doesn't look that great on HD sets but from my point of view, Freeview offers the best source of OTA television at the moment so I am pleased it's here. TV3 and the test TV1 WS channels look very good at 576p on my set.

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  Reply # 69690 6-May-2007 15:45
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Larry on re reading my post I noted I had not pointed out that FreeView is definitly a notch or three up on Skys typical feeds and in my view the best you will find. They are definitely as good as the best I have seen in Northern Europe. Most state broadcaster in Europe have pretty top notch mpeg2 transmissions, and FreeView is on par.

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  Reply # 69692 6-May-2007 16:28
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rscole86:

If you tried this before launch you would have found that there was no channel 3 and C4 as they only started braodcasting acouple of days before launch. You should be able to get al channels now.


I tried as soon as c3 and c4 started broadcasting but I was unable to pick up the broadcasts.  I was only able to tune channels on on the H pol - couldnt see any of those on the V pol.... sending voltages up the line didnt seem to make any difference so I suspect the dish was set for V pol specifically.




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  Reply # 69693 6-May-2007 16:41
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In MDU (multi dwelling units) installation the DC from each STB normally does not pass the taps or splitters. Infact its deliberatly blocked. Either the launch amp or a seperate DC injector supplies the LNB, so nothing you do will change it.

Cyril

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  Reply # 69710 6-May-2007 19:16
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cyril7 Everyone bags digital broadcasters for their low bit rates giving them bad pics, but doesnt look at the flaws of their own kit. To ever expect a broadcaster who is encoding live with interlace material (rather than progressive film source) to come up to the picture quality levels of a good DVD is wishful thinking.


Analogue picture quality in the days before digital compression was better than now. So yes, I do expect it to be better than DVD. While this might be wishful thinking now, there's no reason not to put pressure on broadcasters to send pictures that look at least as good as what I can get any night of the week from Blockbuster. And with PS3, HD-DVD, HDMI and the kind of staggeringly good (and staggeringly expensive) displays I saw today at Harvey Norman, they had better come to the party. Otherwise realtime broadcasting will get left in the dust.

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  Reply # 69775 7-May-2007 09:15
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cyril7: The CRT looked just as crisp but did not have the same motion artifacting and colour postorisation problems that the plasma was having.


motion artifacts are because video is sent interlaced. I'm sure CRTs would have motion artifacts if they tried to display progressive scan video.
That's why we need to say ya basta to interlaced video scan, it's just prehistoric technology

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  Reply # 69780 7-May-2007 09:50
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That's why we need to say ya basta to interlaced video scan, it's just prehistoric technology


Totally agree, unfortunately the international CIF (common image format) that broadcasters have chosen is 1080i. So its here for a while at least.

Cyril



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  Reply # 69794 7-May-2007 11:03
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Hey thanks every one for your replies.

I'm viewing Freeview through composite video FYI ... I might try with S-Video tonight ... I do hope I'm not causing any problems to other sky viewers in my apartment block, but I've let my building manager know what I've done so if someone else complains, he'll know what the problem is :-)

In a way, I can answer my own (original) question about my expectations about the quality. Yes, Freeview is pretty good and MUCH better than the ghosting we were getting with our bunny ears (and we're not getting anymore 'stuttering' now).

Our 40" LCD is quite new and I have to admit that now I'm starting to be critical of even DVDs on this TV. Most of my DVDs have a certain 'fuziness' to them (when viewed up close) with one exception - animations (I watched Happy Feet last night).

Then it ocurred to me that my basis for comparison were the store displays at places like Harvey Norman ... where they generally play either animations or HD video anyway!

I guess I'm just a victim of technology-induced raised expectations! And now I feel compelled to buy a Playstion 3 just so I can play Blu-Ray movies, dammit! :)

Another question - the DSE Freeview decoder I have has optical SPDIF out - so does Freeview send any 5.1 audio in its signal yet?


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  Reply # 69799 7-May-2007 12:00
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There has been no talk of DD5.1 from either TVNZ or CanWest, but early days. On a recent trip to Aus I was surprised at the number of US prime time shows with pretty decent DD tracks, so heres hoping, there is nothing stopping them running DD streams, they do take up a bit more bandwidth than mpeg but currently they have bandwidth to burn.

How many others are on your system, typically on a reasonable sized system you can not control the LNB polarity, therefore you should currently not be seeing anything unless your STB has scanned the Sky 12671 mux that carries only TV1/2.

If you are getting occasional stuttering then it would indicate there are wiring problems in the building or the LNB has a fault. Wiring problems could be due to lots of unterminated feeds in other appartments. It could also be a result of some other device in another apartment causing interence on the system. In MDU installations it is the norm to have a backbone feed with taps to drop the signal to each face plate rather than a bunch of splitters. By using taps a greater level of isolation results that means such glitching should not happen. If taps were used there is no way you should be able to see the Hpol as such systems have fixed LNB supplies that would currently be set on Vpol.

It is quite possible that if your MDU setup is quite small that a splitter is all thats used. In that case it is quite possible that you have captured other users signal. Also, teh offair V/UHF antenna is most likely duplexed onto the LNB feed, if other apartments are not using duplexers to seperate the feeds then their TV's/VCR's can cause interference and bad terminations through the LBand spectrum that would cause glitching.

Cyril

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