High Definition Television


We are only in February, but already it is looking like High Definition television will finally catch the appeal of the masses and really establish itself in the UK this year.

Sky was first out of the starting blocks when it announced last month that it was reducing the price of the Sky HD set top box to just £49 as we reported last week and in the process creating about 1,000 new jobs to cope with the anticipated demand.

As a result of this give away from Sky, I have finally decide to take the plunge and go 'HD'. The order process was very simple but there is currently about a eight week wait for the set top boxes, so you can expect a review in early April.

Given the launch of the BBC/ITV Freesat service at the end of 2008 offering some high definition content including the BBC HD channel and the exclusive ITV HD channel via the red button, Sky has obviously decided to make a big push to increase its HD subscriber numbers which currently stand around 800,000. Sky currently offer 31 HD channels via a £10 per month premium subscription (although the BBC HD channel and Channel 4 HD are available free) but there there is no ITV HD channel as the service uses h.222 encoded content which only Freesat boxes can decode, although I cannot see it being long before this changes or Sky update its boxes/firmware as it is ludicrous that HD content is not available across all platforms be it satellite, cable or Freeview.

Interestingly although high definition content is not available via Freeview yet (although BBC engineers have already carried out tests), it is hoped that HD content can be broadcast in large UK conurbations before the official digital switch over dates. A good case in question is London where people are wondering whether they will be able to receive the 2012 London Olympics in high definition before the switch off date which is scheduled for after the games. More likely is the fact that places like Cumbria where the switch off has already taken place will be the first to receive HD broadcasts as they will carry the strongest signals of the new multiplex services. Either way people with existing set top televisions and boxes will need to upgrade to cope with the different h264/MPEG4 encoding standard in order to receive high definition broadcasts.

This entry was posted on Saturday February 7th, 2009 at 10:00 AM and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response.

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