Our walking holiday in Mallorca was quite nice. The weather was just right for walking and we clocked up about 50km on the guided walks. Now we're looking forward to a holiday in Crete in July!
This review is a little later than I intended but I assumed you'd all be away during the Bank Holiday anyway!
Pay TV on Freeview
Some Freeview channels may become paid-for services following a change of policy by broadcasting regulator Ofcom.
Until now, a certain amount of space on the digital terrestrial platform has been guaranteed for free-to-air TV.
Now this rule has been relaxed, offering broadcasters the opportunity to launch new paid-for channels, or to begin charging for existing networks.
However public service channels run by BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five will remain free.
Full story here:
Your legal right to watch TV
It's a common misconception that we have a legal right to watch TV in the UK and that anything which prevents us from doing so must be illegal. In fact it's not the case and you could have a big fight on your hands if a neighbour is degrading your TV signal with interference or by planting a tall tree.
If you are suffering from electrical interference you can apply to The Ofcom interference investigation service for help.
"Ofcom is responsible for managing all the airwaves used for non-military purposes - from TV and radio to mobile phones and radar. Our field engineers can visit your premises to investigate interference to your TV or radio.
If the interference is caused by something outside your control and outside your premises (for example, from a nearby communications base station) then we will give you advice and take action to minimise the interference, if possible. We will do this free of charge as part of our responsibility to manage the airwaves.
However, if we find that the interference or reception problems are caused by something within your control (for example, a faulty aerial, receiver, cable or plugs) or within your premises (for example, a central heating thermostat), we may charge you £50 including VAT for our investigation. Please note that if your household qualifies for a free TV Licence we will not charge you this fee.
We cannot investigate terrestrial TV or radio interference if:
1. You do not have a rooftop aerial. Set-top or loft aerials are much less effective than a properly-fitted rooftop aerial and are the most common cause of reception problems. Please contact an aerial installer for details. Or
2. You live in a building (for example, a block of flats) with a shared aerial system. Please ask the landlord to contact us.
Both analogue terrestrial TV sets (BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and five only) and digital terrestrial TV receivers (Freeview) need a good aerial to guarantee the best picture quality. If you're using an indoor aerial, trying moving it to a new location in the room to get a better signal. Loft aerials can be better than set-top aerials; however your best option is always to get a qualified installer to fit a rooftop aerial.
If you already have a rooftop aerial but are still having problems, you might want to consider getting advice from a qualified aerial installer. The Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI) keeps a list of accredited installers".
If the interference is affecting your satellite TV pictures, Ofcom gives the following advice:
"Please contact your satellite TV provider for advice on interference or problems with reception.
Satellite TV does not rely on an aerial, so if you're having problems watching TV, possible causes include:
Very heavy rain or snow. This can sometimes affect satellite TV systems but should end when the weather clears.
A fault in the satellite company's equipment.
A faulty connection between your satellite set-top box and the wall socket, or between the set-top box and your TV set.
A problem within your TV set itself.
Interference to your TV from another electronic device in your house.
Try turning off your set-top box at the mains, waiting for 30 seconds, then turning it back on again. This will often fix problems such as loss of sound or picture. If that doesn't work, try unplugging all connections, then plugging them back in again. If the problems continue, speak to your satellite TV company."
If you are certain that the problem is not caused by some problem with your installation or equpment on your premises, you can ask Ofcom to investigate: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/complain/inter/
Note: if the interference turns out to be your own fault, you'll be charged £50 for the investigation so it's worthwhile doing all you can to make sure that it's not. Take a look at our web page for more information:
If you have a reception problem caused by an individual tree or deciduous trees you have no recourse in law. All you can do is to reposition your antenna (dish or aerial) or ask the tree owner to remove the offending branches. Most people don't realise it but you need only a gap as wide as the dish in the exact direction of the satellite.
If the obstruction comprises a number of evergreen trees (e.g. Leylandii) then there is legislation that forces the local council to take action on request (and on payment by you of a rather large fee!)
You'll find information about this on the following web sites:
And a discussion forum:
I need your help in compiling a library of Sky Remote Control Handsets that will allow people to identify what they have. Please see
I need photos like those on the page in oder to show a front view and a rear view with the cover removed. Also a legible image of any labels. Please email me if you can help.
We have Pace DS810 remotes in stock. (Note: these are NOT for Sky HD as I originally suggested!)
We are now stocking a range of modular outlet plates and sockets that look good and are easy to install.
And an extension telephone socket with screw terminals for those people who don't like "Insulation Displacement Terminals".
We've also added the Maxview Omnisat Crank-up dish for caravans to our range.
CRACKDOWN ON SILENT CALLS
Companies will face fines of up to £50,000 if they plague customers with silent calls, under a package of new measures designed to crack down on call centres whose automated calling systems generate more calls than their staff can handle. The resulting silence concerns 635/a of adults, revealed a recent Ofcom survey, and 80,000 complaints a week are made to RI. The increased fine will come into effect later this year.
The new measures include a requirement for all abandoned calls to carry a short recorded information message identifying the source of the call and calling line identification (1471) must be included on all outbound calls generated by automated calling systems. Abandoned calls must also account for less than 3% of all calls made within any 24 hour period.
'Statement of policy on the persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or service' is available at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/misuse/misuse_state.pdf (Ofcom Enquiries; tel: 0845 456 3000).
OFCOM APPROACH ON VoIP SERVICES
Proposals for a code that will ensure Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers give customers important information about service capability have been published by Ofcom.
VoIP services, which deliver telephone calls over broadband connections, have developed significantly in the choice of providers, the services offered and customer equipment since Ofcom published interim guidance in 2004 and there are now an active 500,000 VoIP users in the UK. Ofcom is also updating its guidance to encourage providers to offer access to ggg services and to help them comply with existing voice service regulations.
The proposals are set out in a consultation paper, 'Regulation of VoIP Services', available at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consuIt/condocs/voipregulation/voipregulation.pdf (Ofcom Enquiries; tel: 0845 456 3000). Responses by 3 May.
Sky High Definition
Sky HD, due out this month, will deliver vastly superior picture quality compared with what is currently available. It has all the functionality and features of Sky+ but Sky HD has extra hardware, functionality & connectivity options for future development.
BskyB hopes that 25% of customers will have Multiroom by 2010 and 30% will have Sky+ by 2010.
HDTV (High Definition Television) brings enhanced pictures to the domestic TV market by increasing the resolution dramatically compared with traditional formats like PAL. HD uses digital signals to transfer the picture information when connected to suitable equipment using the correct leads. Greater depth and tone of colours and texture are possible, as well as improved clarity.
Sky HD is wide screen as standard, giving the full "cinematic experience" on all images, and incorporates Dolby digital 5.1 audio.
The actual picture quality is decided by the broadcaster - not Sky. Broadcasters will be able to choose the format that is most appropriate to their individual requirements.
The UK PAL analogue system currently in use actually transmits 625 lines.
Only 576 of these lines are actually visible. On the current PAL 625/I system the picture is 720 pixels wide by 576 high. 720 x 576 = 414,720 pixels (415k).
Artefacts such as feathering (jaggies) may occur where there is motion in an image. For example when an image moves from left to right. Because the fields are interlaced, jagged vertical edges appear. HD interlaced pictures do not show these effects.
There are two HD standards used by Sky: One is not necessarily better than the other; 1080i has more lines and pixels but 720p is a progressive-scan format that should deliver a slightly smoother image that stays sharper during motion.
1080/i/25 = 1080 lines interlaced scanning 25 times a second.
The whole picture is transmitted 25 times per second, but the lines are scanned in an interlaced pattern. First the scan works its way down the screen drawing the odd lines. This takes 1/50th of a second. Then the scan goes back to the top of the picture and works its way through the even lines. This also takes 1/50th of a second. Persistence of vision means that when the odd and even lines are seen together they provide all the picture pattern information of one complete frame of TV signal. Interlacing means that, although the whole picture is only refreshed once every 25th of a second, each locality is visited every 50th of a second. This helps to reduce visible flicker effects.
The display is 1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels high. This equals 2,073,600 pixels. (2,074K)
720/p/50 = 720 lines progressively scanned 50 times a second.
Progressive scanning refreshes the entire picture in one go, taking 1/50th of a second to scan all the lines in one single pass. Refreshing all at once virtually eliminates image flickering and distortion.
The display is 1280 pixels wide by 720 high. (922K)
To truly experience HD picture quality, customers will need an "HD Ready" display.
Sky has signed up to and will support the European HD Ready standard.
All products that fulfil the European standard may use the HD Ready logo and will work with Sky HD. HD Ready devices will be fitted with either an HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) or DVI (Digital Visual Interface) connector.
The Sky HD Box is fitted with an HDMI connector & supplied with an HDMI lead as the primary connection method. Televisions fitted with a DVI connection will require a suitable HDMI to DVI adaptor. Displays that do not carry the HD Ready logo could have HDMI or DVI connectors, but may only have component connections. These displays MAY be HD compatible and will work just as an HD Ready display but this can not be guaranteed.
Some display resolutions on the TV may NOT be compatible with Sky HD. The Sky installer will ascertain the supported resolution best suited for displaying Sky HD.
The following channels will be available at launch:
- Sky One HD
- Artsworld HD
- Sky Movies 9 HD
- Sky Movies 10 HD
- Sky Box Office HD
- National Geographical HD
- Sky Sports HD
Further channels to be announced.
This list is subject to change.
The Sky HD box has been designed to incorporate sound baffle techniques to reduce the audible noise during use. It will be capable of receiving and recording all of the new HD channels, as well as all the existing SD channels, and uses MPEG4 compression technology. In addition it will have all of the functionality of a standard Sky+ receiver (subject to a Sky+ Subscription). Fast Forward; Rewind; Record Message Indicator; Online Indicator; Remote Command; Standby Indicator; Interactive Card Slot; Viewing Card Slot (hidden); TV Guide; Standby; Navigation & Select Backup. RJ45 Ethernet, Component Video, RF Out 2, RS-232, RF Out 1, RJ11 Modem, S-Video, Aerial In, Tuner 2, Tuner 1, Digital Optical Output, Phono Out, VCR Scart, TV Scart, Power Input, USB Port. Only the DSi8215 has component outputs. Later "Sky+HD" models do not.
Thomson will initially manufacture the Sky HD Box, with a Pace version available some time afterwards. It has a new design of Slim line remote control. The Default code pre-programmed into the RCU is now for Phillips and is (0)065. The Sky HD RCU is programmed in the usual manner using either the instructions in the Digital Installation Manual or via the Sky Customer Service option in the Interactive on-screen menu. The RCU uses Rev 8 Direct set codes. The Sky HD RCU can also be programmed to operate Sky+ boxes. Read more about the Sky-HD RCU here:
It is expected that as consumers upgrade to Digital Displays the next generation of receivers will not require analogue connectors as they become redundant.
In an effort to protect the high definition digital content from being copied and illegally distributed, a method of secure encryption has been developed. The system is called High bandwidth Digital Content Protection or HDCP. HDCP works by adding circuitry within the Digital Display connection on both transmitter (Sky HD box, etc.) and the receiver (projector, LCD TV, etc.) that encrypts video content. The source players and the display device will be responsible for the encryption/decryption. IF the TV is not HDCP compliant, use Component video, if available, as HD resolution Analogue pictures are also be available via this connection.
If there is no Component video option on the TV, connect using RGB Scart. This will only show SD quality pictures. Some TVs may not be compliant and will display a warning message.
The Sky HD box has additional connection methods designed for HD signal delivery. HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) is a descendant of DVI (Digital Visual Interface). It is a digital cable and connection that supports digital data transmission. HDMI supports both high definition video and audio, carrying picture AND sound signals to a suitable HD television HDMI connector. The HDMI connection is the Primary Sky HD connector. You are unlikely to find HDMI on Displays built pre-2005.
However, as a result of the HD market moving forward, a number of manufacturers choose to expedite HDMI as a replacement connection for non HD ready TV. This means that there is product out there (predominantly plasma) that does not fulfil all the criteria of HD ready, i.e. Does not have the ability to show 720/p or 1080/i but has an HDMI connection. An HDMI connection does not guarantee the TV is HD Ready!
HDMI to DVI converters
Sky customers who have already purchased an HD Ready TV with a DVI connector will need to supply a suitable HDMI to DVI adaptor/HDMI to DVI cable that supports HDCP.
The DVI (Digital Visual Interface) is a standard for high-speed, high-resolution digital displays. A DVI-I connector is a Digital and Analogue connector DVI connector. A DVI-D connector is a Digital only connector that looks the same but without the 4 analogue pins. DVI-I is the more common connector. As DVI is purely a video transmission interface, separate audio connections will need to be made (i.e. Phono leads or Digital Optical Lead).
The 3 RCA socket connector is for analogue Component Video output also known as Y Pb Pr. Component video outputs should not be confused with RGB. RCA output sockets are marked R, G, B. The RGB connection can only support Standard Definition (SD) resolutions. The three leads are used to transfer Luma (Y) information on the Green wire, and two colour difference signals, Pb and Pr on the blue and red wires. Component Video signals can handle High Resolutions and both Interlaced & Progressive scanning formats. Component only carries video signals. Separate audio connections will need to be made.
SATA interface (Serial ATA). Serial bus technology is used for transfer of data to and from a hard disk. It is the successor to the Advanced Technology Attachment standard (ATA, also known as IDE). This is reserved for future use.
RJ45/Ethernet socket is also reserved for future use.
RF Output 2 "TV link" can be used as normal but the RF output will only be able to provide SD (Standard Definition) pictures to the secondary TV (even if it is also HD Ready).
DLP is a technology used in front and rear projection televisions. The image is created by microscopically small mirrors laid out in a matrix on a semiconductor chip, known as a Digital Micromirror Device (DMD). The number of mirrors corresponds to the resolution of the projected image. Liquid Crystal Display technology is one of the methods used to create flat-panel TVs. LCD technology is used in direct-view, rear-projection, and front-projection TVs. Light isn't created by the liquid crystals; a light source (bulb) behind the panel shines light through the display.
LCoS is a relatively new display format. It is a projection TV display technology that sandwiches a layer of liquid crystal between a cover glass and a highly reflective, mirror-like surface patterned with pixels that sit on top of a silicon chip.
These layers form a microdisplay that can be used in rear-projection and front-projection TVs. The display consists of two transparent glass panels with a thin layer of pixels sandwiched in between. This ionized gas (plasma) emits high-frequency UV rays that stimulate the cells' phosphors, causing them to glow, which creates the TV image. Each pixel comprises three gas-filled cells. A grid of tiny electrodes applies an electric current to the individual cells, causing the gas to ionize.
ALiS (Alternate Lighting of Surfaces) is a relatively recent type of high-definition plasma panel. It is designed for optimum performance when displaying 1080i material. ALiS panels offer bright, clear picture quality, reduced power consumption, and extended panel life.
Use a larger dish than normal. The Thomson HD Digibox seems to like a strong signal. In most of the UK, a "zone 2 minidish" will be ideal. You'll also need twin WF100 coaxial cable.
Ensure good airflow around the Sky HD box to allow Ventilation of the Hard Drive when powered. Insufficient ventilation WILL result in disk failure whether in standby OR powered.
Ensure the Sky HD box is connected to a fully working phone line.
The HMDI video input may need to be manually activated using the TV RCU if the Sky HD RCU cannot be programmed to control this function. The DVI socket on the TV is only capable of transferring video data between two devices.
Provision will need to be made to transfer audio signals between the Sky HD box and the TV.
Sky supply an HDMI lead even if you don't currently have a compatible TV screen.
If using an HDMI to DVI Converter use the Sky Supplied HDMI lead.
If you have an HD Ready TV with a DVI socket, a suitable converter will be required. The DVI converter/lead will NOT be supplied by Sky. If you have a TV that does not have either HDMI or DVI connectors, it is possible it may have Component Video Outputs. The Analogue Component outputs will supply higher resolutions and better quality pictures than a Scart lead although the final picture quality will not be as good as the Digital HDMI or DVI methods. A suitable Component Video lead will be needed (not supplied by Sky). A separate method of delivering audio signals to the TV will also be required (not supplied by Sky) as the Component outputs do not carry audio information. The Component input will need to be selected on the TV.
The TV may not be able to display either 720p or 1080i when using component video.
It is apparently up to the Sky installer to establish which formats the TV can support and to set the Sky HD box accordingly to ensure that you have the best quality picture possible.
Supported resolutions can be checked using the HD Resolution Output option in the Picture Settings menu. Scart should only be used as a last resort when connecting to a TV. The established connection protocols should be followed for RF & Scart connections.
Check the picture quality and tuning of the existing set up.
Connect RF leads, tune to TV & VCR then re-check picture quality (rectify issues if apparent).
Connect Scart leads, adjust menu settings and check for correct operation.
TV Scart VCR/DVD (Recorder) VCR Scart.
When using HDMI, DVI or Component remember to connect the VCR/DVD to the TV with a Scart to allow best viewing of that particular device.
The Sky HD box should be connected to the VCR/DVD to allow SD recordings/copies from the Sky HD box.
The Sky HD box must NOT be connected to the TV via Scart if HDMI, DVI or Component connections are are used.
tvLink installation is carried out as usual (if required). It is the responsibility of the Sky installer to determine if you have a Home Cinema System and what type of sound it is capable of delivering.
If you have the required leads the installer should ALWAYS offer to connect Sky equipment to your equipment and set the Sky Digibox menus accordingly.
Sky is (allegedly) very keen to give a good impression. This means that the installer should make all necessary connections and go through the setup to ensure that all equipment works correctly AND demonstrate everything. He/she will ensure that the Digibox software is up to date. He/she should also leave your home and garden as clean and tidy as it was on arrival. He/she should also discuss with you the routing of all cables. Note that Sky prefers to use twin (shotgun) LNB cable.
On installations where the output from a quad LNB is exceeded, there is a new Octo LNB available from August for installing Sky HD that will also give more flexibility. For example in Multiroom scenarios. The Octo LNB will only be used when a Quad LNB will not be sufficient. It will NOT be installed as standard.
The Sky HD subscription must be activated via a voice call to Engineer Enquiries (with Sky+ functions if required). The Sky+ functions (Live Pause, Record etc) will not operate unless this additional subscription is in operation. The Sky HD & Sky+ subscriptions can only be activated via a call to Engineer Enquiries.
Note: High Definition Resolution Output & Resolution change timeout.
Some Digital displays show some delay and/or glitching as the Display changes formats
This will probably remain the case till late 2006 when newer models have been designed to deal with this issue.
Regarding Customer receipt (Keep-me): SAT008882
The first part of my order arrived just as I was reading your email to say I would get it today.
Andrew D. W
The Relkit33e Actually WORKS..... Thanks!
My Dad's Grundig GDS3000 digibox was getting the dreaded "No Satellite signal is being received" error message on some channels (Ch 5 being one of them). Intermittent at first, then permanent.
After re-assurance from Martin that the relkit will actually work (as I had my concerns), I orded the capacitors and fitted them.
Well, I am pleased to say that the digibox now works again!
My family think that I am really clever. I will continue to allow them to believe that. However, the praise really needs to be directed to Martin and the rest of the Satcure team.
Great website, great information, great advice, and great service!
I currently have a sony VTX-D800U set-top-box which receives freeview just fine where I live in milton keynes (apart from the very occasional picture break-up).
However, I have just bought a windows media centre PC and I am having trouble receiving freeview consistantly on it. BBC channels work OK, but channel 4 and 5 are patchy, breaking up or disappearing altogether. I believe this is because the two tuners the PC houses are not sensitive enough to work with my aerial. The technical information displayed by one of the PC tuners says that I am getting 75% signal strength and 23db signal to noise.
If you unplug the aerial coax from your Sony box and plug it directly into your PC tuner then it should work. If your PC tuner now works OK then the way you were previously connecting it is the problem. If it doesn't work OK, then your PC tuner is crap and you should buy a better one. Unfortunately, a lot of the cheap ones give poor performance like this and you have to pay a premium to get one that works.
As your aerial system works OK with your Sony box the aerial is clearly OK. Trying to "improve" it beyond OK probably isn't going to be possible (although you should ensure that all cable is double-screened and any "splitter" is the correct type -
I recommend "FireDTV DigitalTV Tuner":
This is almost identical to the ElGato "EyeTV 410 for Digital Terrestrial TV" which I use with my Apple Macs. (I originally tried their "TERRATEC EyeTV for DTT" and it was totally useless).
Just wanted to say thanks for the useful advice you've given. Much appreciated! I will try what you've suggested.
Regarding Customer receipt (Keep-me): SAT008094
It sounds cheesy, but I just wanted to say thank you for your service & products.
I fitted your "Relkit33b" (a set of capacitors) to my Grundig Sky Digibox at the weekend because I'd had this "spreading disease" over the last year where less & less channels where accessible/viewable/had clean audio. I had lost at least half my Sky channels (I have the full package) with broken up pictures or "No Satellite Signal Being Received".
A few hours work (going slowly & methodically!) fitting your kit & all my channels were restored to full health. Even my wife & kids were impressed!
Thanks again & keep up the service!
From Sky Digi Online ( http://www.media247.co.uk ):
April 30, 2006
Piping TV Around the House
(Page added to show how one or two Sky Digiboxes can be installed in a loft).
- All eBooks have been moved to a more reliable secure server which requires a username and password. If you can't access it, please contact Me with your original Order number and ask for the new download information, stating exactly which eBook(s) you purchased and the EBK number(s).