Thanks @person, appreciate you sharing your thoughts.
We have one TV that misses a few channels, and another connected to the same aerial that gets them. Sometimes tuners will ignore signals that are too weak or choppy for them to display what they define as a ‘decent’ image.
On the MPEG-2/MPEG-4 question, unfortunately a lot of TVs are SD. Additionally, even if your set top box/PVR or whatever is able to decode MPEG-4, unless it has down-sampling capability it won’t be able to deliver the signal to your TV.
Look on the bright side: the DisplayPort 2.0 standard was released last week and can deliver 16K definition with high dynamic range (HDR)! /sarcasm
Finally, if you’re not sure which channels are HD vs. SD it appears that some nut(s) keep track of them on a Wikipedia page. It appears from the edit history that SBS had been SD “some areas” but that was removed from the page on 30 June. That said, Viceland HD on channel 31 appears to have been there for quite a while - but 32 went from Viceland SD to World Movies SD on 1 July. That particular edit was made on 19 June.
As a result of this situation, I checked the Choice site for PVRs. Only 6 devices tested but thankfully recent reviews.
A couple of thoughts about these in relation to the issue here.
The test doesn’t say if these have a set top box function, and as we see here that seems to be a limitation of what you get now, and might be an issue in the future, need Choice Guidance on that.
Another is the importance of storage, but more so, its copying/movement to other devices. My current Panasonic supposedly has storage facilities to DVD and some solid state, but the process is so long it is pointless, ie, it takes hours to copy a single SD program, and you need dozens of discs to copy a HDD. So, how do I upgrade from one PVR to the next generation, how can I move, copy or use the material already recorded? How is that achieved on the new PVRs, ie, when they pass their use-by-date?
In the test there is a Choice small print comment that some PVRs will record to an external device, but it can only be read by the recording device! As you only tested 4 brands, of which only 2 had external device ability, I’m surprised you didn’t say exactly what this means!
The price difference between the 2019 PVRs is huge, why recommend a $1k machine that seems to have bugger all additional features to another PVR at $400 of the same brand, it doesn’t even have external device storage facility! In light of the current situation why buy a PVR with physical longevity, but the risk of minimal long term functionality?
Regarding the MPEG 4, the Panasonic specs makes no mention of MPEG ‘Streaming’, it does say that SD Video it has MPEG2, and for HD Video MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 -but I’ve mentioned that here before, and it is apparenty meaningless? What does MPEG-4 AVC.H.264 mean? All I know is, It doesn’t pick up the SBS HD channels, when I do a manual channel search.
Is MPEG 4 Advanced Video Coding or H.264 (technically both are the same just different naming convention) which is different to MPEG 4 without the AVC (H.263). They are not the same and AVC/H.264 produces smaller file sizes, & better video quality for playback of captured video. If a device is AVC compliant it may not also be standard MPEG 4 compliant unless it is stated so.
H.265 is the next version and is sometimes called MPEG H Part 2 or HEVC and devices that support this can play back the standard MPEG 4 (H.263) streams/files.
I hope that helps decipher the naming for you. The highlighted links take you to the wikipedia articles on those standards.
Thanks for the follow up, we’re happy to assist.
Good question. A PVR has more functionality than a set-top box or standard Blu-ray player, and all the PVRs tested (and to my knowledge, all standard PVRs on the market?) have TV tuning ability. We’ll take this on as feedback, perhaps we can make this clearer. The purpose of the device is to view and record TV, and if it is not fit for that purpose, you are protected by law for any current device. As for issues in the future, we provide some guidance on the reasonable expected lifetime of appliances.
In the review, you’ll see that we score units on their Electronic Program Guide (EPG) functionality (This is how the device handles TV channels) and we also indicate which models have Freeview compatibility, which may be of interest for a number of reasons.
When you view the details of each device, you’ll notice whether the PVR allows you to transfer files by viewing the ’ Recordings can be copied for viewing elsewhere’ field. This means you can transfer the files and watch it on any device. However, some devices, especially Freeview compatible ones, will apply Digital Rights Management in an effort to protect copyright, so be aware of that in the future. We understand consumers are often frustrated with copyright issues, and in the past CHOICE campaigned on these issues. I understand you’re still frustrated with your PVR and we’re attempting to assist you with information you can use. You might also wish to take up your complaint with the device manufacturer.
To save you some time, I’ve also looked for info on your current device. There’s no clear indication online of whether you can copy to a USB easily on your existing device, it might require intervention from a tech expert to avoid the rigmarole of slowly copying to disc. Most TVs have multiple inputs, another alternative would be to retain your original device and utilise multiple inputs to access your content.
It’s correct this info is contained in the test, and we’re sorry this wasn’t clear enough for you. We explain this as follows, “Programs can be recorded directly to an external hard drive. However due to copyright protection the PVR may format the drive in such a way as you can only use it on that PVR and not connect it to any other device.”
We’ve attempted to cover devices that are readily available on the market, but we can’t always include every single device available. If there are other PVR recorders you’d like to see tested, please let me know and I’ll be sure to pass it on to the product testing team for inclusion in future tests.
We recommend a number of devices at different price points. The more expensive machines also have Blu-ray players, so it’s up to each individual to decide whether this is worth the cost or whether it is worthwhile to purchase a PVR at all, considering the personal needs you have expressed. I hope that the info we’ve provided helps with that decision, please let me know if you have follow up questions.
I believe that what is happening here is that the program is being played at normal speed and converted from one video format to another, after which it will actually be written to the DVD.
If writing to DVD then, I believe, you cannot avoid this. Modern video formats are way beyond your basic DVD and so it has to convert backwards (and devices of this class are not capable of converting more quickly or converting on the fly as they write to optical media).
If writing to BluRay (I didn’t check your model to see whether it can even do that) then you can do “high speed copy” and that is much much faster than writing to DVD and much much faster than playing at normal speed (assuming e.g. 6x speed blank BluRay disks and a burner that can support that). There is no video conversion and the actual recording step is much much quicker than normal playing speed.
None of the above comments cover the scenario of writing to an external disk (e.g. USB attached), where, as a previous comment said, additional mechanisms may be in place to prevent you reading the content off the external disk on any other device.
Thank you, very helpful.
What I am being told by Panasonic is that SBS are the only Australian broadcaster to use MPEG4 for their HD transmissions. Apparently, the other broadcasters use MPEG2 for both their SD and HD broadcasts. I don’t know if that is correct. As others have said here, how does anyone know which of the multitude of channels is SD or HD. I assumed channels 2 and 21 were the SD and HD ABC 1, and likewise all the other free to air duplicates provided their SD and HD equivalents.
What does seem to differentiate SBS is that unlike all the other broadcasters, the other broadcasters supply their customers with SD for all their channels and additional HD channels for those with the equipment to use them, even though most broadcasts are still not HD!
By not supplying all their channels in SD, I question whether SBS is fulfilling it remit as a national broadcaster, with particular emphasis on multinational news and programming.
No this is not correct, see…
Maybe SBS have recently moved to mpeg 4 to allow more content to be transmitted within the bandwith they have for broadcasting. Their comoression could also be different (different codec used to other mpeg 4 stations).
I don’t think would be the case otherwise the same could be said for those who didn’t have a digitial receiver at the time the analogue signal was turned off.
Furthermore, the HD signals transmitted in mpeg 4 are free to air. It is not SBS fault that one may have old hardware that does not receive such content.
In addition to this, the ABC broadcasts many more digitial radio stations than they do on FM/AM…one for example is ABC grandstand. At times local analogue radio stations broadcast different content to their digitial counterparts…especially when there is a major sporting event which is often broadcast on local analogue radio but not on local digital as the sporting event is broadcast on digital Grandstand. One can’t say that ABC is not meeting its broadcast charter because someone only has an analogue radio and can’t listen to local radio content when a major sporting event is on.
While is is a real nuisance that modern technology does not remain modern for long…and is superceeded by something which is better or ‘shinier’, the easiest fix for you would be to buy a cheap set top box which can convert the SBS HD mpeg 4 signal.
phb Consumer Defender - oh yes! This seems like a defence of the supplier.
Are you saying that regarding TV, that the other free to air broadcasters don’t supply all their channels in SD?
From memory not all the time. I think that on ocassion I have seen different broadcast on some of the commercial SD and HD channels, especially when they are covering a sporting event like tennis or Olympics. The HD is used as and additional channel to broac0dcast different content for the duration of the sporting event. I might be wrong though, but there is notihing to compel a broadcaster (TV or radio) to have all channels in the same broadcast format.
When we bought our first set top box, it was SD and we often thought that we needed HD (when sporting events were on) but didn’t migrate to. HD receiver until the old cathod ray TV packed it in. Even with potentially additional content on separate HD channels, there was still often nothing more worth watching.
EDIT: also just remembered that ABC news 24 channel originally was only available in HD. …then with TV channel signal changes, it moved to SD and believe that it is still now only SD.
I don’t think your memory is correct. If you check the channel listing, you will see that my assertion matches the listing, ie, that all the other broadcasters supply all their channels in SD. Only a subset of those are also available in HD. Several HD channels also supply simulcasts, ie, the standard program replaced is available on SD. I couldn’t find any reference to ABC 24 being only HD, but if so, it was probably MPEG2, so generally available, but having the potential to display as HD.
I think this page will answer your question: http://eng-au.faq.panasonic.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/34853/~/australian-free-to-air-networks-adding-mpeg4-tv-channels
Summary: Panasonic TVs and recorders released on or after 2011 have tuners that are capable of dealing with MPEG-4 TV channels. Before that, you are stuffed.
Your model is not listed as being on or after 2011, so I would assume that your model is “pre-2011” and hence basically stuffed.
You would be missing a mass of channels. You will be missing all the HD channels but you would also be missing some SD channels i.e. those which happen to be using MPEG-4 encoding.
However it is a little more complicated than that because it depends on where you live. There may be some HD channels that are encoded in MPEG-2 and there may be inconsistencies between regions as to what encoding is used for what channel.
I believe that you are misinterpreting that. It is talking only about recording and not about decoding of TV channels.
The commercial ‘broadcasters’ often show the same drivel an all of their services at the same time. We are so lucky to have so many choices of service, and if we make a slight error in service selection we still see what they are showing on HD, SD1, SD2, and SD3, all being the same
What I see @longinthetooth promoting is a restriction whereby no advances or improvements are allowed, and the broadcasters will remain tied to the lowest common denominators at any given time.
A related war story is that when I joined the public service, government mandated the agency provide the same services at the same quality across the continent. The services fell behind world standards partly because of that mandate. Nothing could be enhanced in the cities because it was technologically impossible and financially difficult to provide the same in the cities, regions, and bush. After I left that mandate was dropped and the improvements started to roll out; 10 years later the regions and bush still do not have the same service as the metro areas, but all have an improved service since the mandate was lifted.
With the understanding that it depends on where you live, it is more complex than that.
SD = 576 … the resolution of the image, specifically the number of scanlines i.e. the resolution in the vertical direction
anything > 576 can be called “high definition” and “full high definition” is 1080 (and ultra high definition 4K is twice that i.e. 2160).
That says nothing about the encoding, which may be MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 (or various other options, theoretically but not in Australia in practice as far as I know).
All five networks have their primary channel at SD and encoded in MPEG-2. All five networks simulcast their primary channel at FHD with MPEG-4 encoding.
However, again depending on where you live, SBS is not the only network to deprive you of content by broadcasting one or channels in a manner that you cannot decode. In my area 7 and 10 are also doing so i.e. I only get all of 2 and 9.
Your memory matches the ABC web site: https://about.abc.net.au/press-releases/abc-is-changing-to-hd/
However, again, resolution and encoding are somewhat independent. When ABC News 24 was HD, it was using MPEG-2, which was OK with devices that lacked MPEG-4 support (such as longinthetooth’s), but not OK with devices that lacked HD support. I recall (perhaps incorrectly) that the real kerfuffle with the original ABC News 24 channel was about the lack of HD support in people’s TVs. Early adopters of digital TVs had TVs that only supported 576i.
It’s a question of finding a balance - the waste of chucking out working electronic equipment, in addition to the dollars spent on the equipment, v. progress.
Since broadcast frequency is a scarce shared resource, that neither you nor I nor the government can make any more of, in some sense TV networks have an obligation to use that resource efficiently - and that means moving to better encoding (like MPEG-4). (The alternative solution to this problem is not to broadcast TV at all but instead to use copper or fibre, where bandwidth can be added essentially without limit.)
TV networks also have a commercial motivation to use the resource efficiently i.e. better encoding means more channels.
All that said, there still isn’t much on that is worth watching.
No my memory is correct and this link outlines the changes to ABC News 24…
I particularly remeber this one as our SD set top box was unable to pick up the channel (as it was only broadcast in HD when it originally went to air)…and often wonderednif it was worth ‘throwing out’ a perfectly good nd working SD set top box to get one which coukd decode HD signals. (Un)fortunately I onky had to wait about 5-10 years before our old cathode tube TV died, allowing us to upgrade to. HDTV.
That is only today and does not follow historical channel use by the public or commercial stations. I expect that like in the past, when there is a lot of sportihg content that a station has the broadcast rights to, they may chose to broadcast as much as they can by providing different content on the same sporting even over different channels (including HD being different to the SD channels).
As I indicated above, unfortunately technology changes always have an impact on older technology, and the easiest and cheapest option would be to get a HD set top box (which also will decode SD), and use this to receive and watch SBS HD channels and other HD channels when the content differs from the SD channels. While I haven’t looked, I expect that there could be some good quality ones cheap on second hand selling websites…or even a friend or family may have one sitting in a cupboard somewhere unused.
Yes, seeing it is HD doesn’t make drivel any better than it being seen in SD.
Your insult wasn’t called for, neither was its premise correct, I am not promoting restrictions, rather a more responsible transitional behaviour of SBS.
The move from Analogue to Digital was well planned, with a long lead time, so users knew they would need to upgrade their equipment and the retail industry geared up for it and there was competition to get the business, all good for the Consumer, ie, what this site is all about, the information useful and constantly updated as questions were raised.
In this case, and maybe there have been others, if so I haven’t got personal experience of them, the move by SBS has not involved preparing the national audience to a forthcoming change, the information provided has been weak, ie, just saying MPEG4 isn’t sufficient, the lead time was just a few weeks; there was no period of transition for the existing channels. Further unlike the other broadcasters, who have retained all SD channels during the period as HD has developed, and none of the SD channels have been replaced, rather additional channels have been created to cater for the extra channels needed to support both SD and HD. I mentioned insufficient info - in my case my PVR specs mentions support for HD and SD and MPEG 2 and 4 standards. That’s why I bought it.
In the recommended PVRs in Choices 2019 reviews, the top rated model,($1000) doesn’t reference MPEG at all in its specs, I haven’t checked the others. I can’t imagine that such a modern and top of the range won’t support the SBS changes, but, without reference to MPEG4 who knows? Not that reviews of these machines on other sites think highly of the machines Choice recommends, far from it, the constraints seem unreasonable.
No insult was intended. I made a statement of fact regarding how I perceived what you were asking for in a practical sense. Your subsequent post clarified it, so thanks for that.