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The Pace DTVA is a fantastic piece of kit which will ensure that digital terrestrial TV succeeds. It's really well designed; it's small enough to genuinely be called a set top box, and it's incredibly easy to set up. The remote control is pretty nice too. Assuming you have pretty good digital TV coverage (check out http://www.dtg.org.uk/retailer/coverage.html) you'll get a really good quality picture. The best thing of all is that if you happen to have a widescreen TV, you get genuine widescreen transmissions, with no stretch marks! A recent software upgrade (downloaded through your TV aerial) had added digital text services, which are very fast indeed. The only problem I've seen so far is some pixelation on some complex images (particularly the swimming at the Commonwealth games), but overall I've been very impressed.
I recently bought a Pace DTVA - they were supposed to have been widely available in the shops by now, but many Currys, Dixons and Comet branches still don't have any stock (I bought over the internet). The box was simple to install, and doesn't require a large amount of space (smaller than your VCR). However, I was unable to recieve any channels initially. There is a website that you can use to confirm that you are in a reception area for digital television - I used this to confirm I was in an area suitable for reception. I was unsure if my DTVA was at fault, or my aerial was not of suffuicient quality (being indoor), so I was able to try the box at a local branch of Curry's - and confirmed it worked correctly. On reconnecting the box at home I was able to receive 19 channels - but the signal strength was only averaging 50%. (sometimes loose picture). Having improved my aerial, the reception strength is now about 70%, and we get less drop-out.
so you are an average TV viewer who can access 5 channels (or 4 if you are lucky enough not to receive C5) and are looking to go to digital with all its bells and whistles. You might not be that but a current Sky digital viewer who cusses because you miss all your programs because you are out or they clash with something on another channel. Fear not, both situations are common and they can be helped with SKy +, a premium package from Sky which not only gives you access to all digital channels but will allow you to pause live tv......Pause Live TV? impossible! Nope. all you have to do is press the pause button on the remote and the box will record the program for up to 3o minutes. just think, not more missed F1 or Fottie because your mother phones you at the wrong time! so how do I get this I hear you cry?! well, you need to phone up sky or go to any number of shops, Either the high street con merchants or your local friendly satellite dealer and plonk £300 onto the counter. thats the first hurdle. the box is not subsidised like the normal sky boxes are. You can phone sky and get it on interest free via you monthly bill however. Once you kissed goodbye to the money, you will then get a contract for you to sign and then in a matter of days or weeks an engineer will vbisit your house with a massive box. inside this box is the set top box and all the gubbins to make it work. If you are a previous sky viewer the engineer will need to change the block on your dish as this box uses 2 signal feeds (2 wires going into the house too) if you are not a sky viewer, he will put one of those cute little black dishes up on the wall. Once all that is complete and you get your card through the post and activated, you will have the ultimate TV experience. NOt only the pause live telly situation I told you about before but also: Watch a programme on one side while recording another (so no more arguements about y
ou watching Star Trek when the wife wants to watch EastEnders) Record a whole series of a program - No more scenes where you think, Damn! I missed a bit of this! and no more remembering to set the video or finding a tape. Watch box office movies EXACTLY when you want, but if its not within 245 hours it gets deleted and you won't get charged! Now, how easy is it to use? well, if you used SKy before, you are sorted! use the EPG to find a program you want to record and press select. If you haven;t used sky before then you have a very easy to use system there. you will pick it up within minutes. "but what happens when I run out of space?" well the box is clever like that, It will delete the stuff you have already watched. That is unless you ask it not to delete a certain program. but you shouldn;t have any problems there, you get 20 hours of space available to you to play with. One last thing I want to mention is that Sky Digital is now starting to broadcast in Dolby Digital 5.1 across its widescreen movie chanels. and guess what the only box capeable of decoding the signals is? thats right! Sky +. It has optical out connection which you plug into your surround amp and you can enjoy the films exactly how the director intended. now, would I buy one of these? you bet! but (and this is a big but!) don;t think that the £300 is the end of the matter, oh no! you also need to fork out a tenner a month ON TOP of your regular sub (£47pm for top whack sub and sky+) not only that but the install costs £50. even after the cost, I would still buy one, especially if I had a surround sound setup and wanted to make the most of my TV viewing! a resounding thumbs up!
Choosing a satellite system can be a very difficult choice, especially with the large range of products that exist in the market. Since the dilemma between an analog or a digital system doesn't exist any more (since analog television is bound to be vanished in the end of the decade),the most serious question is whether somebody should be connected to a Digital TV provider (and choose a "bouquet" of channels) or buy a "free to air" (FTA) system. FTA SYSTEMS A main difference between the two choices is that "Free to Air" systems and tend to be more expensive. However, after installation, no contract is required and owners are able to view all the "Free to Air" channels that can be received: For Astra satellite, these are the BBC (1-2-Prime-Choice-World), ITV (1 and 2), Channel 4 (and E4),Sky News and Eurosport as well as a large range of Italian and German channels.With such systems, there is also the possibility to subscribe to a "bouquet" and receive the channels of your choice.The advantage of that option is that you are not obliged to sign for a min.contract period and hence you can terminate it without further obligation. Additionally the FTA receivers are in most of the case more "advanced" technologically and can be used everywhere in the world, something not always possible with the ones you get from the Digital TV providers. Standard receivers (without the dish) cost from 150-300 pounds, depending on the model and make of the box. SUBSCRIPTION-BASED DIGITAL TV As far as the prepaid systems that are available in the market, these are divided into two categories: a) Those provided by Sky Digital and b) The ones provided by ITV Digital. Satellite channels can also be received by Cable TV providers, which are Ntl and Telewest (these are not covered in this review). The advantage of those systems is that in most of the cases you pay only for the installation (which is around 40
-50 pounds) but you are obliged to sign a 12 month contract.This is not so bad since you have a wide range of packages to choose from, depending on your tastes and likes.In addition the amount of English-speaking channel is far greater but bear in mind that the number you receive is proportional to the amount you pay-so obviously the more money you pay the greater the number you get.In addition (and for most of the cases) you will have to connect your digibox to a phone socket for a minimum period of time. A big advantage with this option is that the receiver is yours to keep after the 12 months and hence you have use it to watch up to 50 free to air channels from any satellite you like. This is true for Sky decoders- however, reception won't be as good with the standard dish and you might have to buy a bigger one. ITV digital doesn't use an dish so you won't be able to have something additional to the British FTA channels, as the system stands. CONCLUSIONS In overall FTA systems are better, especially if you enjoy watching programs in other languages. You can rotate your dish to the satellite you want and watch as many FTA channels as you are able to receive. However if you want to watch a lot of sports and movies it is better to buy a system from one of the two major providers (SKY and ITV), both of which have their advantages and disadvantages. This can be costly though, especially if you are not going to be around for the whole year. Hence, If you don't want to be tied up with a 12 month contract, have a look in the 2nd hand market-there are many bargains available. And a final advice: If you decide to subscribe to SkyDigital,you should be able to choose the digibox you get. Also the prices of the boxes of the same generation should be the same. Don't let them fool you...
I have recently (about 4 months ago) purchased a pre-paid Ondigital (now ITV digital) package. For £99.99 you get 6 primary channels (your choice) and the 'free' channels (the 5 terrestrial channels, ITV2, BBC News 24, BBC Choice, BBC Knowledge etc...). The picture and sound quality is outstanding, the occasional freeze occurs, but at least BBC 2 is not fuzzy anymore and you can actually watch channel 5 (if you want to!). The choice of primary channels however is disappointing. Many channels we would have like are not available, most of these 'big name' channels such as 'The History Channel' and 'The Discovery Channel'. Also some channels are only available at certain times (eg BBC Knowledge which is only available until 12 noon at the weekends) which can be annoying when you want to watch something particular. The ITV digital package was the only one we could use (we rent so sky and cable were out!) and we do use it a lot. It could be argued though that Sky offer better value packages if you can have (or want) a dish on your house. When we got out package they offered about 60 primary channels for about £5 a month more!
The two current digital TV options avaliable to me are ondigital and sky - cable hasnt been laid in my street (and isnt due for some time) so its waves all the way for me. The cost of sky subscription has put me off for a long time plus all the hassle of having the dish mounted on the back of my house and wired round to the front for connection to my telly, I'm a fairly houseproud kinda guy and was worried about where the cable might be placed and how it would look (not an easy route). Recently i found a special offer on OnDigital's pre-pay system. OnDigital run two payment systems - either you can sign up for a monthly payment (minimum £6.99 month for a single primary channel like Sky1 up to £30+ for all the movies and sport) and you are given the decoder, or you can buy a box for around £100 including subscription to 6 of the primary channels (£9.99 month on the subcription package). The special offer I stumbled over was £50 for the 6 channel pre-pay, with an offer like that i couldnt hold off trying digital tv any longer. The system sets up very easily, just connect the aerial into the ondigital box before it enters the tv, press the autotune button and all the available channels in your area are displayed (after a few minutes). Not all areas have 100% coverage, the search engine on ondigital's website couldnt guarantee that i'd recieve all the channels but when i found that a neightbouring post-code could recieve them all i decided to plump for it anyway. As it happens i found that i couldnt recieve all of the channels because my aerial was slightly off line, a quick re-align and all 50 or so channels are now listed as avaliable on my box. Quality wise ... well i'm glad i paid £50 instead of £100. Maybe i need a still better aerial (ondigital do amazing quality aerial upgrades/replacements for a fixed £40 installation fee) but i get a couple of pauses of the picture every night together with a few pops from
the audio. The image quality is pretty good - not dvd but then its not quite dvd technology. Im not convinced that its as good as sky digital but not having sat and watched a sky box for a long period of time i cant be sure. If you want to try digital tv then I'd recommend ondigital - the £100 pre-pay gives all the free stations (all the bbc's, tv, ch5) plus your choice of 6 premiums channels without the need for any installation past unpacking and plugging in the decoder.
Sky digital offers a vast selection of channels, ranging from the disney channel to sky sports. It is well owrth the money if you can afford it, as it provides great entertainment for all the family. The basic Sky digital package is £7.99 a month for the 50 basic channels, but goes all the way up to £32 a month for the movie channels, and the legendary sky sports channels. You pay about £40 for the dish to be installed , and then pay monthly for the channels. ONdigital uses a normal TV aerial, to transmit its channels, so you dont need to get it installed. ONdigital is more expensive, and has less channels than sky, but with its prepaid package, it is far more convinient, and easy to use.