Recently I read in the news that freeview television has just overtaken Sky when it comes to the number of subscribers in the UK. Although this news isn’t exactly shocking when you consider that many new TV’s now come with freeview boxes ready installed, but it did get me thinking about where things were heading.
Personally, I’m pleased to have a reminder that the masses are finally moving away from the traditional four or five channel analogue system by investing in freeview boxes. I am still shocked,however, by the number of people actively complaining about the analogue switch off that will be occurring gradually across the UK from next year until 2012.
Their main argument is the issue of price; they are claiming that as they can’t afford to get a freeview box that the government should keep analogue TV switched on online. This,in my mind, is pretty short-sighted especially when you consider the relatively large allocation of frequency bandwidth analogue TV consumes which could be used for better things. Also many freeview boxes are available on EBay for approximately ten pounds, and with the amount of pre-warning we have been given it would not take a lot of effort to put aside a pound a month so you will be ready in time.
I don’t think that the pace of technology should be held up by people who are frightened of change. The additional channels being broadcast completely free on freeview alone would make the change from analogue worthwhile.
Anyway, now that rant is out the way I think it’s time to look towards the future of TV broadcasting by looking at another technology known as HDTV which is likely to rapidly gain in popularity over the coming years.
High Definition Television (HDTV) offers the consumer a fantastic improvement in the picture quality as HD ready TVs have much higher resolutions than their older counterparts. A High Definition television can typically display up to four times the number of pixels than a regular TV which results in a much finer picture being produced. The greater resolution coupled with better colour reproduction and a completely different way of drawing the pictures on to the screen results in a much better picture quality which eliminates the flicker present on many older CRT televisions.
Fortunately, like the switch from analogue to digital, the switch from regular to HD transmissions is unlikely to be costly in the future. The majority of new LCD and Plasma screens sold in the last few years are HD ready which means that those who have recently purchased a new TV won’t have change again when HD becomes big in the UK.
Another advantage of many HDTV’s is that in many cases you will be able to plug your computer straight into the TV turning it into a large monitor. Before HD I used to try using my laptop with my old CRT television and the picture quality was absolutely terrible, so bad that I found it impossible to make out any of the text due to the poor resolution. Using a computer or laptop with a High Definition TV however is a completely different story due to them having comparable resolutions to many monitors on the market.
Owning a HD television isn’t enough to start benefiting from improved transmission clarity as a HD decoder of some description is required. At present these can be costly due to there being no Freeview HD option which leaves you with a choice of either Virgin Media or Sky. These services are a fair bit costlier than their lower resolution equivalents and the amount of high definition programming presently available is limited. Unfortunately those who adopt early usually get a poor deal but the cost will come down and the programming will increase over the coming months making HDTV a technology to watch for the future.
Chris Holgate writes a weekly article of all things tech related. He is a director and copyrighter of the online computer consumables business Refresh Cartridges who sell cheap ink cartridges ,toner cartridges, computer hardware and other computer consumables online. An archive of his work can be found at www.computerarticles.co.uk.