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Topic # 25296 18-Aug-2008 09:41
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Two months ago I hooked my HTPC up to dvb-s and decided to remove my analog STB from the equation to see if I could live solely with freeview. I of course moved to dvb-t for the Olympics and finally I have a picture quality that I can be proud of.

The English football season started over the weekend and so I hooked up the STB to my pvr500 again (with composite being the only option from the STB) and sat down to watch the game with my boy, only to be reminded just how bad the picture quality is from Telstra :( I couldnt even watch the whole game it was that bad. The players were all fuzzy, the fans in the distance all blurred into one, it was heart breaking. But in the last two months Id completely forgotten just how bad it is.

Ive refused to move to digital because a couple of friends have done that and were very disappointed with the results, one even insisting that Telstra put him back on analog because he wasnt willing to pay more money for a worse picture. Ive read the last couple of pages of posts on GZ and the responses are quite variable. Some have great signals some dont.

Even the Phoenix game last night was unwatchable and its made even worse by the fact that any games I *acquire* from overseas are better quality even though theyve been recoreded, encoded, sent half way around the world etc. Dont get me started on ESPN !

So in my quest to get the best quality picture am I throwing money away by trying Telstra digital and should I just go straight to Sky ? Sky HDi obviously would be great but my LCD is not HDCP and Im not going to buy another one, and I dont need the PVR capability because thats why I have the HTPC. Is the standard Sky picture likely to be any better than what Telstra can provide ? Or will just getting a new STB from Telstra with s-video make all the difference ?

With a non-techie wife and young kids I need an all in one solution which they have with the HTPC and Mediaportal. I dont mind having another STB, I just want a better picture.

Its been something Ive conisdered for a while now. I currently pay over $250 a month for a phone I dont use, a tv I dont watch and a download speed thats rarely 10Mb. But thats another discussion.

Id be very interested to hear what people think about my options and what their experiences have been.

Cheers
Martyn




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  Reply # 157648 18-Aug-2008 10:04
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IMHO there's no reason to go straight to Sky now if you have TelstraClear Digital TV available to you.

The sports channels are just as clear on TelstraClear Digital TV as they are on Sky.




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  Reply # 157655 18-Aug-2008 10:34
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The boxes with s-video offer a significantly better picture. If you ring TCL they will swap them for you.

Neither composite or s-video offer the same quality as component however which is the unfortunate issues. TCL's pictture quality is great after the upgrade, it's just being let down by poor STB's.

 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 157701 18-Aug-2008 13:12
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Ive just been down to the Telstra shop in Wellington and spoken to a bloke with the mental capacity of a goldfish :(

He told me (and Im only slightly paraphrasing here) that the analog signal will actually get worse because its an old technology that is no longer supported. He continued to explain that because everything you buy these days is digital, analog will continue to get worse because everything now is HD !

Confused ? So was I !

Anyway, he told me that analog STB's only had composite and only the digital STB's had s-video and the only option was to upgrade to digital which they would do for free.

Against my better judgement I also asked about HD. Its apparantly being tested right now but he wouldnt define testing and got a little upset when I asked more questions. He has no idea when it will be out, whether it will only be Sky HD (he actually said they couldnt do freeview HD but wouldnt say why), doesnt know what the connectivity will be like or whether it will be a PVR or not.

At this point he started engaging with another customer and said that someone would call me to organise an upgrade time.

Customer service is obviously a thing of the past :(

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  Reply # 157730 18-Aug-2008 14:32
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Sorry I didn't read your message properly..

Digital has s-video, analogue only has composite. The digital quality is far superior than it used be after TCL upgraded their network and there is no way to get a better analogue picture that you are currently getting.

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  Reply # 157829 18-Aug-2008 21:30

The Telstra DTV has improved noticeably over the last few months. I wouldn’t have Telstra DTV 12 months ago – I stubbornly retained my analogue STB because I wouldn’t pay for a downgrade in service (DTV was “blocky”, full of tears and jerks, and unreliable).

 
I have gone DTV now, it is an improvement over the analogue cable TV, and it seems reliable enough now to actually be called a service. I’m happy with it, I think the picture quality is about the same as Sky digital.

 
TCL are testing HD PVR’s right now to directly compete with the MySky HDI thing. I don’t know when a decision is to be made (other than “supposed to be next couple of months”), and I don’t know how long after that until TCL have a product on the shelf that they can sell. 


 The goldfish at the TCL shop was inadvertently correct – for the wrong reasons! The quality of the analogue CATV system has deteriorated noticeably over the last two years and could continue to get worse. Mostly the deterioration is a direct result of a dropping carrier-to-noise ratio, which has occurred as bulk DTV channels have been added to the system. It’s just a fact of life… more carriers = reduced carrier/noise ratio for each carrier. 3rd order distortion products also get worse as more carriers are added to the system. With analogue TV carrier systems the effects of this show up straight away on the TV screen. The DTV service however, does not notice the reduced C/N ratio and other distortion products… being digital, it hangs in there and if necessary applies error correction (FEC) until there is almost no usable signal – then it fails completely.

 
TCL don’t have Freeview content on their cable system right now because Freeview would not give it away for free. They wanted a lot of money for their content to be rebroadcast on the cable. That’s just the way it is, as far as I know. At a guess TCL might review this position some months down the track?



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  Reply # 157951 19-Aug-2008 12:25
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Well the upgrade is going in on Thrusday morning, so fingers crossed it gives me something acceptable.

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  Reply # 158266 20-Aug-2008 10:26
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If they are offering you a digital STB upgrade for nothing, go for it. SD pictures are great. I was watching CSY New York last night ex TV3 on TCL Digital via s-video - it was pretty damn good. Mind you, bitrate for those flagship shows is pushed up (Star Wars Ep3 the other night - same thing) but hey.



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  Reply # 160125 27-Aug-2008 13:11
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So Ive had the digital STB for nearly a week now and I cant say Im all that impressed if Im honest.

True enough the installer only gave me a composite cable and the picture quality was not great so I dug out an unused s-video and plugged that into my pvr-500 and have that all set up now, but like I said its still not what I expected.

Sure the picture is brighter and if Im pushed its a little better but thats about it. The installer told me it would be great and that s-video would make it much much better but they all say that dont they!

Ive seen a couple of comments on GZ saying that with the Sky STB you have to change the settings to have it output via s-video and not composite, does anyone know if its the same for the Telstra STB? I cant find anything to change other than the aspect ratio, the two menus that look like they might have it are restricted by an intaller pin number.

I still have the composite plugged in for both video and audio on the STB with only the audio into my pvr-500 along with the s-video, I wouldnt have thought it would be clever enough to know what was plugged in and send a signal accordingly would it?

I noticed during the install that the signal strength was only 50% although the quality rated at 100%

I plugged the s-video straight into the LCD last night and the quality was terrible. Very very dark completely unwatchable.

Now Ive been teased with the Olympics in HD I want a better picture, but perhaps this is all I can expect :(


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  Reply # 160135 27-Aug-2008 13:38
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Never satisfied are you martyn :)

 

I've had the TCL stb with 1xComposite and 1xS-video connection for nearly a year so does that mean i've got the digital stb/config?

 

I've got my 40" sony bravia connected via both and can't really tell any difference switching between the two so what does that mean???


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  Reply # 160138 27-Aug-2008 13:45
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How do you have your TV setup? Factory default settings?

Have you actually calibrated your TV? There are plenty of sites on the net which will step you through the process.

There are plenty of settings on modern TV's that can easily make the picture look terrible. What is your viewing position in front of the TV? LCD's don't have brilliant viewing angles so can easily look darker if you're not sitting at eye level in front of the TV.

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  Reply # 160148 27-Aug-2008 13:58
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If that was directed at me sbiddle, I run two tv's, samsung 32" and the 40" bravia, both lcd, both with very good 178 degree viewing angles that I find don't degrade if you're not level and dead in front - even though dead set front is the angle they're both viewed from.

 

Don't use any inbuilt colour correction, mpeg and noise reduction is minimum.

 

I prefer the colour of the Samsung in all honesty but the sony is full 1080p so is the main one and that took considerably longer to try to find a happy medium.




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  Reply # 160425 28-Aug-2008 12:11
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Never happy with mediocrity, you know that Carl :)

I havent bothered with setting up the lcd because Im not going to be using it with that, I just wondered after seeing that the Sky boxes needing setting up to output with s-video, that I needed to do that aswell.

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  Reply # 160444 28-Aug-2008 13:40
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sbiddle: Sorry I didn't read your message properly..

Digital has s-video, analogue only has composite. The digital quality is far superior than it used be after TCL upgraded their network and there is no way to get a better analogue picture that you are currently getting.


Well finally I got the new digital STB with svideo out as the one that we had (was a replacement, 2nd hand). Why it was replaced, is because the unit made a bit of a faint humming sound and wee bit of spark inside. So I went and turn it off at the main, and turn back on, it won't fire up. This is the second times I had the problem with...

... with the new replacement, I hope it'll be better and reliable.

Roll on new HD PVR with built in modem if possible, as the technician himself could not understand why TCL isn't choosing that option. And he also revealed that the black Motorola cab;e modems go out of stock very quickly too - so that throw the over-stock cable modem theory.




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  Reply # 160460 28-Aug-2008 14:25
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I went from TCL digital cable (in Wellington) directly to My SkyHDi, though kept TCL phone and broadband (I have an aversion to Telecom to last a lifetime).  Its great!  The TCL techie who came around to take back the STB said the earliest that TCL would have an  equivalent products was Christmas (I dared not to ask which year).  The only thing about MySkyHDi that I dont like is that the content once recorded isnt portable - frankly I feel I pay for the content and should be able to watch it on my iPhone or whatever, whenever I like.  All in all though very happy with the new MySkyHDi and happy that I now also have a dish... so might be able to in due course find a Dreambox or equivalent product that will give me some content portability.

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  Reply # 160485 28-Aug-2008 15:34
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[..] Snip!

 frankly I feel I pay for the content and should be able to watch it on my iPhone or whatever, whenever I like.  All in all though very happy with the new MySkyHDi and happy that I now also have a dish... so might be able to in due course find a Dreambox or equivalent product that will give me some content portability.


Good luck with that wish.  The issue is content rights.  Studios and Channel providers don't like copies of content floating around.  Movie studios are particuarly oppressive over such things.




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