Freeview HD - A quick review for the average Joe.

By tonyhughes Hughes, in , posted: 2-Feb-2009 14:11

Here is my experience with FreeviewHD (DVB-T or terrestrial digital TV) in New Zealand.

I acquired a Zinwell Freeview certified terrestrial reciever (this one) for free (swapped for a mobile phone prize I had won).

I had an older UHF aerial + a really old VHF aerial, and really crappy cabling which came into the wrong side of my lounge anyway.

I called a local aerial guy, who came and did some testing, and was unable to get a good signal with the existing UHF - I have lots of large trees directly in my line of sight.

A new aerial (combined UHF/VHF) in the same spot yielded excellent results. (This was no con, I already had poor analogue reception, and zero digital reception on the old setup.

He supplied the aerial, fitted it, and ran decent grade cable under the house and up through the floor behind my TV, AND supplied me an HDMI cable, all for $200, which I thought was pretty good.

Did a scan with the Freeview box, and everything tuned in within about 1 minute. Excellent!

The box is currently plugged into my 720p 50" Panasonic Plasma via component cable, so I am only getting SD - I dont think this reciever can output HD over component, only over HD.

Even with this SD setup, the picture quality simply kicks ass 8 ways from Sunday compared to Sky Digital / MySKY (SD) on the same TV.

The EPG is nice to use, and reasonably well thought out, with a picture+sound preview while using the guide (Which MySKY lacks).

The Zinwell remote is a hideous bitch-monster of a thing. Its nice and small, but the button layout is average at best, and the remote seems to be underpowered, very directional and lacking in range and angle, and often non-responisive. A quick session to add the Zinwell box to my Logitech Harmony 525, and things are much better, the Harmony remote works really well with it, range is improved, the harmony is much more responsive with the STB than the original remote is too, and angle is now not an issue.

I have included some screen shots for your viewing pleasure (all SD via component to a 50" 720p panel with bad reflections from the windows....)

Preview of current channel (TVNZ Sport Extra) while looking at todays guide form TVNZ 7.

The banner that comes up when you change channel (or request via remote). Note blue bar is progress meter for how far through the current program you are.

A second press of the info button reveals synopsis information, for which there is none for this program (didnt notice when I took the photo, or I would have changed channels for you - where it says "No Event" is typically a paragraph about the current program).

Whats on now & next - very handy! Would prefer a video preview of current channel here too though...

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Comment by Yatey, on 2-Feb-2009 19:36

I hate the remote too. I feel like I am going to break the remote trying to change the channel!

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