Now analogue is going what do you need to know about digital TV?
In 100 days the analogue TV signal will be turned off, so time is running out for those who will be affected to prepare themselves for a new digital TV reality, writes CONOR POPEWHAT’S THE STORY WITH ALL THE RYAN TUBRIDY ADS ON THE TV? ARE WE NOT SUPPOSED TO GET A BREAK FROM HIM IN THE SUMMER?
It’s been hard to escape the ads for Saorview in recent weeks as those charged with making sure the 300,000 Irish homes that only have access to an analogue television signal don’t get left behind once the big turn off comes.
In 100 days from now the signals which have kept hundreds of thousands of televisions across the State flickering companionably for generations will be switched off forever as digital television muscles itself into the frame and Ryan is the voice of the “great switch off/on”. You may be surprised to learn that he has given his face and voice to the advertising campaign free of charge.
MUST WE BOTHER WITH THIS DIGITAL BUSINESS? CAN WE NOT JUST STICK WITH OUR ANALOGUE SIGNAL?
The signal is being abandoned across the EU so the Republic had no choice but to follow suit.
It will be a pain for some people but it is still a good news story. Those who have been living in an analogue-only world don’t know what they have been missing and once they get the new system they will get more channels, better sound and pictures, a fancier Aertel and an electronic programme guide (EPG).
DO I REALLY NEED TO CARE OR IS IT SOMETHING THAT IS GOING TO GO AWAY?
Well, it depends on your circumstances. If you have a Sky or UPC box then you are already watching digital TV and do not need to do anything. Unless, that is, you have more than one telly which is not hooked up to the UPC or Sky box.
According to the people at Saorview, about 250,000 households get at least a portion of their television through an aerial which relies on the old school analogue service.
If you are one of them you’re going to need a set-top box to continue to access the Irish channels on the extra televisions.
SET-TOP BOX? SOUNDS EXPENSIVE.
Ah, it’s not really. A set-top box can be yours for about €50.
Saorview can be accessed through a set-top box or with integrated digital televisions.
MY FOLKS HAVE PIPED TV VIA A CABLE. DO THEY NEED SAORVIEW AND, IF SO, WHAT BOX TYPE DO THEY NEED?
Yes. They are going to need a set-top box or a Saorview approved TV.
A SAORVIEW? WHAT NOW?
Saorview-approved equipment – either set-top boxes on televisions – will have been tested and will be guaranteed to be compatible with the new system.
DON’T TELL ME I AM GOING TO HAVE TO GET A NEW TV.
Ah no, don’t be fretting now. You don’t actually need to buy a new television, but if you are in the market for one you may as well make sure it is digitally enhanced so to speak. Saorview approved TVs have decoders built in so there is no need for a separate set-top box.
I BOUGHT MY TELLY TWO YEARS AGO. IS IT SAORVIEW READY?
Possibly. Many TVs sold in recent years have a digital decoder built in. To get the Saorview channels your TV will need an MPEG-4 decoder.
It’s not hard to check if your TV has such a decoder. There is an approved product listing on saorview.ieor you can scan the manual for the magic “MPEG-4” phrase. If you don’t have a manual, Google your TV model number and check the online manual.
THAT SOUNDS COMPLICATED.
That’s only the half of it. Another way to check the digital qualities of your TV is to go to the set-up menu and see if it allows you to choose analogue and digital tuning. If it does, select digital tuning.
If you receive TV pictures and sound you have an MPEG4 TV. If you receive sound but no pictures you have an older MPEG2 TV. Yet another way to check is to run a first-time set-up with your TV: if it finds RTÉ News Now, you’re good to go.
IF I DO NEED THE SET-TOP BOX, CAN I INSTALL IT MYSELF?
For most people switching is simple. You buy a Saorview approved set-top box, or a Saorview approved television, plug your existing aerial connection into the socket at the back, and menus then prompt you what to do next. It should take about five minutes.