You need to ask yourself a series of questions if you want to be sure you are taking advantage of the free HD TV channels.
Given that, in the current week, ITV 1 HD gets only 2.6% of total viewing, compared to 36.5% to the channel in standard definition, and that BBC HD gets 1.2% of total viewing compares 26% for comparable channel BBC TWO, it seems that many people are not taking advantage of the improved pictures and sound that can easily be enjoyed.
So, you have to ask yourself five questions:
Q1 Do you have a high definition television set?
You need to check that your television is actually high definition. Almost all HDTVs are flat screen, but it does not follow that all flat screen televisions are high definition.
The best two clues to look for are the "HD Ready" or "Full HD Ready" logos, and also that the television set has HDMI connectors.
If you have the manual for your television set, it may describe HD as "720 line" or "1080 line". If these are not mentioned, you don't have HD and you will need a new television set.
If your TV set has the Freeview HD logo, it can receive what are known as "DVB-T2" transmissions, which means you get HD direct from the TV aerial connection. If this is the case, see Q4. If the set is "HD Ready with Freeview" it means you can't.
Some high end sets have Freesat HD built in, where you can watch the free high definition channels from satellite. For this to work you will have to use the satellite connection on the set. Remember that set will also have standard definition Freeview, so pictures from the normal TV aerial will not be in high definition.
Q3 If your HDTV doesn't have built-in reception - do you have a Freeview HD or Freesat HD box and the correct cables?
If you have an HD Ready television, you can connect it to an external set-top box to receive either Freeview HD or Freesat HD.
You must make sure that you connect the box to the television set using an HDMI cable. If you use a SCART lead you won't have HD.
Q4 Do you remember to switch to the HD versions of BBC One, ITV 1 or Channel 4
You must select the special channel numbers for these services, as the usual channel numbers (1, 3, 4 and 8 on Freeview, 101, 103, 104 on satellite) will only show in standard definition.
On Freeview HD, 50 must be selected for BBC One HD, 51 for ITV1 HD (or STV HD), 52 for Channel 4 HD (not in Wales), 53 for S4C HD (Wales only) and 54 for BBC HD.
On Freesat HD, you must choose 108 for BBC One HD, 109 for BBC HD, 119 for ITV 1 HD (or STV HD), 126 for Channel 4 HD and NHK World HD is on 209.
On Sky HD, you have to choose 140 for Channel 4 HD, 143 for BBC One HD, 169 for BBC HD, 178 for ITV 1 HD.
Q5 Is the HD channel actually showing an HD programme?
Only the BBC HD channel has a HD-only schedule. On BBC One HD, ITV 1 HD and Channel 4 HD non-HD programmes are shown "upscaled" to HD resolutions and look better than the pictures on the SD version of the channel.
Check in the EPG (usually the INFO or GUIDE button on the remote) to see if the programme that is being shown has an HD marker in the listings.
Your comments are always welcome. Please use the form below to add your thoughts or questions to this page. We will get back to you as soon as we can.
Mark Agius Tuesday 28 February 2012 7:50AM Haywards Heath
I have been watching High-Definition TV since 1969 when I switched from 405 line black and white VHF to 625 line colour UHF TV.
But as 625 line TV ends this year and is being replaced with 576 line digital, I will be going low-definition.
The pictures on the 625-line analogue terrestrialchannels (BBC2 1964, BBC1 and ITV1 1969, C4 / S4C 1982, C5 1997) weren't actually 625 lines anyway. Circa 25 lines were not used for the picture, which is why some of those spare lines were used to carry teletext data. 1970s black and white TVs tended to have height controls (whereas colour sets tend to lack them); if you mis-adjusted the height to display all 625 lines you'd have got dotted lines at the top; those were the non-picture lines. A correctly adjusted TV would have had the height set such that those non-picture lines would be omitted and only the picture lines would show top to bottom; i.e. not all 625 lines would be visible.
HDMI connectors aren't an *absolute* requirement. HD Ready TVs were permitted to have a DVI connector rather than HDMI. They are also supposed to have analogue component inputs (five connectors: Y, Pb, Pr, left and right audio). You won't find any Freeview HD or FreesatHD equipment with either set of connectors, though.
If the TV does only have DVI, it must still support HDCP, the content-protection protocol, on that connector. Since, for video, HDMI is just a more compact DVI connector - it's electrically identical - you can get an adapter. You will also have to figure out how to connect up the audio, because unlike HDMI, DVI doesn't carry sound data. My TV appears to require a 3.5mm stereo jack connection while most set-top boxes or PVRs have a pair of phono jacks - these cables are readily available.
The thing you should *not* do is also connect the SCARTcable. That just confuses things, mainly because the SCART connector has a SELECT signal. When the box is turned on, it puts a voltage on the SELECT pin; the TV switches to that connection automatically. HDMI also has a 'select' feature, so whether the TV selects the HDMI or SCART input will be down to how it prioritises the two functions. To eliminate this problem, so that it always uses HDMI, simply don't connect the SCART cable.
Briantist: The additional 25 lines per field are not exactly unused, even in the original definition. They allow time for the raster beam to return to the top of the screen, and contain synchronizing pulses so that the TV can synchronize itself to the transmissions - so that the picture display starts at the right point and each subsequent picture displays at the same position, it doesn't 'roll' or slide.
One field on the 625-line system actually contains 287.5 lines. For the first field, the top line is only a half-line, starting half-way across the picture, and for the second field, the half-line is at the bottom, ending half-way across. The digital system extends these half-lines to a full line, making 576 lines.
Since the mid-70s, the field and frame blanking intervals have carried, primarily, teletext data, encoded so they don't disturb the legacy sync pulses. Some lines have been used to carry other signalling data like Programme Delivery Control.
The first half of line 23, the second half of which is the first visible half-line of the first field, can carry PALplus data, used to signal widescreen pictures. Channel 4 still use this system but it didn't catch on with the other broadcasters. Some digital TVs or digital transmissions that weren't set up properly might display these dots in the first half of the first line.
The DVB specifications do offer ways to carry the data that would have been carried as legacy teletext or in the Vertical Blanking Interval, and for the set-top box to reconstruct them for an analogue TV. As I recall, they are used on satellite, but not on Freeview. One of the differences between the Irish Saorview system and Freeview is that Saorview boxes are supposed to support DVB-TEXT (EN 300 472) as well as MHEG-5 programs targeting the 'UK Profile' object model.
Tony Hill Tuesday 28 February 2012 2:42PM Dorchester
Vis-a-vis HD and improved sound, etc I have two comments/questions:
- my Freesatbox indicated BBC HD broadcasting in 5.1 sound all the time but my amplifier (and my ears) tell me that is usually 2.0 Why is this? Incidentally, BBC HD preview ALWAYS has 5.1 sound even though the programme when actually broadcast has 2.0!
- I cannot get sub-titles on ITV1 HD; is this so? Because of this I only watch football in HD on ITV1 - perhaps others similarly (I have to use sub-titles on ALL drama on all channels and absolutely ALL American programs)
Tony Hill: Is your box connected to the amplifier you use for your 5.1 sound with either fibre-optic or single-coaxial SPDIF?
If not, you won't get anything other than 2.0 sound.
I can confirm that I was watching BBC HD last night for several hours and the DD 5.1 light was on my amp and the dialogue came from the central dialogue speaker and there was music and effects behind me...
There has been a number of free-to-air HD feeds on the Eurobird 1 satellite these past few weekends showing Winter sports. Cross Country, Super G, ski jumping, biathalon and a couple of weeks ago speed skating from Moscow for the Netherland broadcaster NOS. To watch them though you needed a 4:2:2 satellite receiver. The quality of a 4:2:2 HD satellite feed is very impressive.
I currently use an August DVB-T USB receiver to watch Freeview on my PC, with a Hanns G 22" LCD widescreen monitor. That gives a superb high-resolution TV picture, as it does showing HD video. So I am considering upgrading to an HD DVB-T2 USB receiver. The Hanns G is not labelled as HD, but the model is available with an HDMI input.
Therefore, would you say that to all intents and purposes the monitor would display HD TV as well as an HD television?
Re 5.1 sound. Yes Freesatbox to amp is by digital connection. I didn't mean that I NEVER get 5.1 sound - I do, but the number of programmes broadcasting in 5.1 seems to be limited. The Yamaha amp clearly shows (by icon) when it is receiving 5.1 v 2.0. And, as I said, the BBC HD preview is always in 5.1 - as are some of the "fill-ins" between programmes. The Freesat box and amp are quite new - the amp to replace a higher spec Yamaha amp (replaced because it had no HDMI connections) and I tested using that amp and found the same results - only 5.1 sometimes.
Your site has a useful listing of programmes we can expect to receive in 6 categories: 1,2,A,B,C,D. How do they relate to the DigUK site where 6 categories are BBC A, D3&4,BBC B, SDN, Arq A, Arq B?
Also, I have no HD signal at all. My aerial receives presently from Lark Stoke where I get 42 SD programmes, whereas the much nearer Wrekin gives me only 18. I've just spent a lot on a LG Freeview HD tv, so I'm disappointed so far.
Colin Hooper: At switchover, the transmission mode for all the multiplexes changes. To distinguish between 'before' and 'after' modes, two different sets of names are used: before, we use 1, 2, A, B, C and D; after, we use either PSB1/2/3, COM4/5/6 or the company names BBC A, D3&4, BBC B, SDN, ArqA and ArqB. Legally, in the licences, they actually remain 1/2/A/B/C/D.
The changes are
1 => PSB1/BBC A
2 => PSB2/D3&4
B => PSB3/BBC B
A => COM4/SDN
C => COM5/ArqA
D => COM6/ArqB
Digital UK show Mux B closing and BBC B starting at switchover step 2. This is to accommodate the advance HD network, where a post-DSO-configuration BBC B launched at a limited number of sites (Black Hill, Lichfield, Emley Moor, Pontop Pike, Crystal Palace) in 2009, before those sites switched over. At these sites, 'Mux B' and 'BBC B' are or were in operation at the same time.
The channel line-up is often different for post-switchover configuration due to the increased capacity of, originally, three of the muxes (1, C and D). Mux B is completely cleared to carry HD services. That Mux B change means that the BBC's SD services carried on it before switchover have to move to Mux 1 (PSB1/BBC A), and Sky Sports 1 & 2 move to ArqB, their permanent home.
The commercial muxes have now decided to change to an even higher-capacity mode, which means the line-up on SDN might now be different from Mux A. The process is complete in Wales, allowing identical services in Wales and outside Wales for the first time. (S4C dislodges E4 from D3&4 in Wales, meaning it has to be carried on SDN instead - previously there wasn't enough capacity for E4 and everything else, so CITV and The Zone had to be dropped in Wales to make room.) Once the process is complete everywhere, it's likely some new services will launch outside Wales.
The transmitter pages here should show the correct current configuration for each multiplex. Some sites do show a mix of PSB/COM and company names, and old names - this is where the transmitter is in the middle of switching, or where for technical reasons the new mode has not yet been adopted. If you think there's an error please let us know.
Do make sure that the TV actually carries the Freeview HD logo, not just HD Ready. If you're sure that it does, we really need a full postcode to figure out the problem.
5.1 Sound - my point is that the BBC tout 5.1 sound as a benefit of going HD (and make sure all their previews ARE in 5.1) but rarely deliver it, even though the programme is available in 5.1 as demonstrated when excerpts are shown in HD Preview. Are we being short-changed?
I personally would rather stay with standard definition logo free channels that my standard hard drive can record (using fewer bits) and therefore fit more programmes on my hard drive before I need to delete any.
You are correct the BBC has a poor record with 5.1 sound. The Carling Cup Final was broadcast in low definition and stereo on BBC. Sky transmitted it in 3D and with Dolby Surround sound.
Infact I understand Sky has spent alot of money to get the best 5.1. They have installed Soundfield microphones at many football stadiums. This has certainly paid of as it adds considerably to the atmosphere.
Also the BBC surround sound has been very poor. They tend to use the front speakers as a stereo pair for the commentry instead of panning it as you should for 5.1.
BBC broadcast testCard "X" during CH54 Preview to help HDTV set-up which is mostly as always. 5 "Bandwidth" boxes to the right of the little girl are for HDTV - corresponding from the top to resolutions: 1080 X 370, 740, 1057, 1482, 1852 & 2225 lines. 1080p/i HDTVs should reproduce equally "clean" vertical lines for boxes 1 to 4 (25MHz) but CANNOT reproduce the 5th (30 MHz) which is beyond the system spec. To demonstrate the absolute limit of the system, the last box should perhaps have been nearer 1920 lines (26.92 MHz) - but it isn't & legends alongside would have been helpful.
I'm new to the HD TV scene, having just upgraded to a new Panasonic TV with both Freeview HD and Freesat HD built-in. Why is there no teletext on the BBC HD channels? I have also noticed a slight problem with ITV HD, in that the audio is out of sync with the visiion - it seems to trail it by about half a second. Both BC HD channels and C4 HD don't seem to suffer this problem.
PS ADRIAN: There's no TELETEXT on BBC anyway, as this was an ITV / C4 / C5 service which essentially closed down in DEC 2009 just after the Granada swichover. A limited TELETEXT service still exists for the gee gees and I think a few holidays but this is not a patch on the old analogue TELETEXT service. BBC has still has CEEFAX on what's left of analogue and Digital RED BUTTON text which is poor and some pages are still corrupted after two and a half years e.g. Page 2510 of the Savings pages for the 4th and 5th catagories of savings, despite 22 separate complaints from me alone !!
The point I was trying to make is that the 'Text' service available on the Digital BBC SD channels is not available on the Digital BBC HD channels. I've never noticed any significant 'corruption' problems with the BBC text service, but you are right about that 'Savings' page.
Tony Hill Thursday 15 March 2012 2:11PM Dorchester
I use BBC HD teletext (mainly on freesat but sometimes Freeview) every day with no difficulty - other than the frequent non-updating of info, especially on a Friday! I'm not sure why you don't receive it.
Although I know that I can use teletext on HD channels on the BBC, I have just checked against non-HD BBC1 and the results are identical. Pressing "Text" (or the red button) on my remote brings-up the teletext. The link you provided about "Interactive Services" I think refers to the additional programming which is carried via the red-button (alternative matches at Wimbledon, for example) and not to ordinary teletext. I can only conclude that there must be a fault with your equipment somewhere or other.
Can you definitely confirm that the "Text" button on your RC works when watching the BBC HD channels via FREEVIEW (not FREESAT) ?
If this is the case, can you let me know the make and model of the digibox or TV you are using to receive Freeview HD. I am using a Panasonic TV, model TX-L32DT30B.
brian Wednesday 21 March 2012 9:38AM Waterlooville
Retuned this morning and get HD fine, however like some other comments on this thread no teletext on BBC HD by pressing the text button or the red button, also does anybody know when BBC south is going HD, instead of showing a red page saying change to ch 1 .....
brian Wednesday 21 March 2012 5:35PM Waterlooville
Been waiting for HD to arrive as i have a tele with HD tuner built in, must say somewhat underwhelmed, there is a difference, but certainly not enough to make me get an hd box or tele if i didnt already have one......
Some of the programs transmitted on the HD channels are SD upscaled to HD - this is partcularly true for BBC 1 HD, as not all programs transmitted on BBC 1 SD are HD. However, the BBC HD channel is meant to show only true HD programs only i.e no upscaled SD programs. My experience of HD over the last 3 weeks or so is that some programs benefit far more from HD than others e.g wildlife/nature programs and sports coverage, compared to Eastenders (do you really need HD to watch someone scream 'Leave it!!' at someome else??).
I think "Homeland" was in 5.1 sound and the surround volume is always lower than the "standard" sound carried by the SD broadcasts.
I assume, because there are more channels to carry on 5.1. Can you receive 5.1 audio?
brian: Thanks for that Tony, no only use the tv sound, no 5.1, the problem was the adverts blasted you out of the room when the volume was set to hear homeland,so just went back to std ch4, no problem them.....