Jumping on the HD bandwagon

Originally published on the PCW blog

Jumping on the HD bandwagon

HD is getting a lot of press at the moment, especially with the launch of the new Freeview HD service, which I’ve written about elsewhere.

So, it’s a perfect opportunity for canny marketing folk to spread their own unique blend of confusion and misinformation, slapping logos like “Full HD” on everything. Today’s pile of press releases included one announcing a new indoor TV aerial from OneForAll.

But it’s not just any indoor TV aerial. Oh no, it’s a “powerful new Full HD indoor aerial” which rather seems to imply that somehow you need a Full HD aerial to receive an HD picture, “Full HD” often referring to the 1080p resolution, rather than a 720p picture.

Leaving aside the fact that no one has plans to broadcast in 1080p in the UK, let’s be absolutely 100% clear – the aerial has nothing to do whatsoever with the resolution of the picture. It picks up the signal, or it doesn’t pick up the signal. And not having a “Full HD” label on the box the aerial comes in doesn’t mean that you’ll see fewer pixels.

There’s a nod to the launch of Freeview HD, with a claim that the SV9380 is “offering crystal clear pictures to those who can already receive HDTV via Freeview.” That would be no one, then. The launch on 2nd December was a technical launch, and there aren’t any receivers available to consumers, with none expected until next year.

Never mind; you might still need one of these, perhaps. After all it gives “perfect reception of Full HD television, DVB-T television and DAB radio.” And here we were, thinking that perfect reception depends rather on the strength of the signal in a particular area. Yes, FreeviewHD uses something other than DVB-T, but it’s not called “Full HD” it’s called DVB-T2. And if your aerial can receive one, it can receive the other.

In the “technically minded” section, OneForAll’s press release explains that the aerial “ensures maximum reception for higher density information streams such as the DVB-T2 and HD MPEG4 transmission.”

It’s enough to make you weep, if you understand how these things work. An aerial isn’t like a fishing net, requiring a finer mesh to capture the more detailed bits of information for HD. There’s nothing special, in radio terms – which is all the aerial cares about – about Freeview HD’s radio waves, compared to those for SD services.

Please, OneForAll – and other companies – stop the pseudo-science. It’s meaningless mumbo jumbo. When you slap terms like “Full HD” that were designed for display resolutions, on devices like aerials, or make ridiculous claims that aren’t backed up by the science, you make it easier for the sharks and chancers out there to persuade the less technical to spend money on things they don’t really need.

It’s this simple: if you have a TV aerial that will receive Freeview, it will also receive Freeview HD. It doesn’t need badges, or stickers.

There’s no such thing as a “digital aerial” either – but perhaps that’s another post, another day.

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