05.Digital or analogue
What about digital broadcasting?
Analogue TV is slated to be phased out between 2012 and 2014, so buying one of these analogue models now would give roughly four to six years of use as is. The relatively cheap and easy addition of a set-top box later on means you’ll be able to receive digital TV when analogue is a thing of the past. However, it could be something to consider right now if you want to watch ABC2, the action from Parliament House and other digital treats.
Digital standard definition (SD) DVD/HDD recorders currently cost about $650, so it might be time to decide whether buying one of these models is really good value in the long term.
All models in our test were able to receive and record digital transmission via a set-top box.
What's the difference?
An analogue television holds onto a signal even when reception deteriorates, attracting more and more ‘noise’ until it becomes unwatchable. We’ve all seen the ghosting that can occur on a TV picture in a poor reception area.
A digital transmission remains clear even when reception begins to deteriorate, until pictures suffer a dramatic drop in quality, before failing altogether. This point is known as the digital cliff, or threshold.
Your existing aerial, cabling and physical surroundings will make a difference (unless you’re simply in an area with no digital reception) but essentially it won’t be a matter of whether you get good digital TV reception or bad, but whether you get good digital TV reception or nothing at all.
Digital TV in apartments
Many apartment owners/renters will be aware of the hassles involved in getting access to a pay TV service such as Foxtel or Optus TV in their units. Meetings with the body corporate or fellow apartment occupants to work out what’s needed seem to quickly escalate into a major operation, and a similar tortuous path may be part of your move to digital TV.
While some antenna systems will escape with just a small adjustment, many installations will require significant refurbishment, depending on the quality of the existing cabling and antenna.
If your apartment block hasn’t moved over to digital TV, you may want to avoid a model without an analogue tuner or an SD tuner. Such a model would be unable to receive the old analogue TV signal while you wait for your block of units to upgrade their antenna system.