I’ve been looking at Topfield PVRs. Looks like one can get a dual-tuner standard definition (SD) model for about $300-350 (retail), whereas it’s about $750 for a high definition (HD) one. You can also get a single-tuner HD model for about $399, but sometimes I want to be able to record multiple programmes at once. I also want the ability to transfer recordings onto the computer, which rules out some of the cheaper Topfield models.
Given I’m feeling a little impoverished at the moment, and I don’t have a TV which is HD (and am unlikely to upgrade in the near future; and even if I did it’s not likely to be big enough that the difference is noticeable), I’ve been pondering why people spend the extra money for HD.
- All the existing analogue channels (except community Channel 31): ABC1, 7, 9, 10, SBS1
- ABC2 (only on SD)
- SBS2 (on SD or HD)
- Channel 10’s ONE sports channel (on SD or HD)
- Channel 9’s Go entertainment channel, which launches next week
- ABC3 kids’ channel starting in December
- Channel 7’s second channel, starting later in the year
- Future SBS3 and SBS4 are expected to be SD
What’s only available on HD:
- ABC1 HD, which shows things such as the News and Stateline from Sydney, and other NSW programming such as Saturday afternoon rugby and very occasionally state elections
- 9 HD, which with the introduction of Go on SD has ceased having anything different to 9 SD.
- 7 HD, which has a teensy bit of alternative programming, mostly during the daytime, and late at night, which I’m betting will go the way of 9 HD when they launch their second channel.
There is talk of future ABC channels: ABC4 (news and current affairs), ABC5 (education) and ABC6 (“best of overseas” — eg repeats!). It’s not yet clear if they would be SD or HD, but I’m sensing a pattern here, and I bet they’ll all be SD.
So unless you have a big screen (and most of those come with HD tuners anyway), where is the incentive to buy an HD PVR or STB?
One other factor in choice: Freeview certification. Apparently at some stage in the future they may switch from MPEG2 to MPEG4. I’m betting this won’t happen for years (they’d be crazy to do it with so few digital receivers supporting it). To get Freeview certification (phase one) a device has to support MPEG4 (fair enough) and not have ad skip (in Topfield terms this is called “Trick Play”).
(Looking back at some of the old posts on this topic, I’ll happily await people with Topfields leaving comments praising them, and expect Nathan to tell me to build an HTPC! Honestly Nathan, I love the idea, but I don’t have the time to do it properly.)