Look for the logo: If it’s not T2, it’s not HD!

Looking through various forums, once again it seems that there are people out there spending money in the hope of getting Freeview HD, and being disappointed. I spotted someone on Digital Spy this morning who had bought an Emtec Movie Cube S800H, which boasted an “HD Digital Tuner.”

Unfortunately, it’s not a tuner that’s compatible with the UK’s HD broadcasts, and so won’t pick up the Freeview HD channels. But it’s any easy mistake to make – a look for some of the sites that sell it and similar products reveals statements like

“this media-player hard drive boasts a digital tuner for instant access to high definition TV channels”

“just what you need to watch and record digital TV in Full HD”


“contains a HD digital tuner to access all the HD DVB-T channels”

All those quotes come from sites that price in pounds sterling and are UK-based or the UK branch of a large international company. In short, they’re selling to UK users. The casual buyer could be forgiven, then, for assuming that they’ll get the channels broadcast in HD, including BBC One HD, launching next week.

But they won’t. Only the very last of those three descriptions comes close at all to giving a hint at what’s wrong. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating – in the UK, we use a system called DVB-T2 for Freeview HD channels. Some other countries do use DVB-T (note the missing 2) for HD, but here we only use it for the standard def channels. There’s no way to upgrade a box from T to T2, and if you want HD in the UK, you must have a T2 tuner.

In my view, selling a product in the UK that doesn’t have a DVB-T2 tuner, and saying that it gives access to high definition channels is misleading. It might well give access in other countries, but who takes their set top box on holiday? I think any ordinary person seeing those descriptions would be reasonably entitled to take the view that they will receive the UK’s HD channels.

What to look for

So, how do you make sure you don’t get caught out?

There are two things to look for; first, in the specs, always look for DVB-T2, not just DVB-T. If you don’t see that, don’t even think about buying.

Second, look for the FreeviewHD logo. While I’ve previously said that just a T2 tuner is ok, I think it’s worth revisiting that advice. Now, I’d advise people to buy only a box that has the FreeviewHD logo on it.

That guarantees that it’s been tested and certified; it has to have a DVB-T2 tuner to meet the specs, and it will work properly with Freeview and Freeview HD.

Don’t pay any attention to site that use phrases like the ones quoted above – if a product doesn’t have the Freeview HD logo on it, then you should assume that it won’t work with Freeview HD.

Freeview HD logo
Freeview HD - if a box doesn't have the logo, don't buy it. Some boxes are being sold that will only work with HD in other countries, not the UK

With this one product, it took me only a few minutes to find three misleading statements, ready to trap the unwary – and I’m sure there will be plenty more out there; I don’t want to single out Emtec, as I know nothing about their product, other than that it works in other countries, but will not give you access to Freeview HD channels here; their own site has a  warning about HD coverage, which is sensible.

It’s the UK vendors who are at fault here, for not paying enough attention to the description of products they’re selling to make sure they don’t mislead about what a product priced in £ and sold via a UK-based store will offer to UK buyers.

So, if you’re looking for an HD box to watch the Christmas telly on, don’t get caught out. Look for the logo, and don’t fall for online bargains with misleading descriptions.

One Reply to “Look for the logo: If it’s not T2, it’s not HD!”

  1. I agree completely, the whole digital/hd business is just a complete mess and (IMO) deliberately designed to mislead non-technical customers.

    I know people who have bought a TV and assumed that because it says “HD Ready” on the front next to the Freeview logo, then they would get HD on it.

    Some time ago, we had a talk at a local engineering society meeting. The presenter was one of the publicity people from the outfit (whose name escapes me) tasked with raising awareness and getting people ready for the big switch off – which happened last year for those of us served by Winter Hill.

    I raised this very point with her, and the response was part of the problem. Their only remit was to make sure people could get standard Freeview – nothing more, nothing less. They didn’t care about HD, they didn’t care if people were being misled about HD, their remit started and ended with people being able to get basic Freeview and problems caused by misleading HD labelling was someone elses problem.

    I also raised the issue of allowing analogue only sets to be sold in soon-to-be-digital areas, and again they really didn’t care. We should have prohibited the sale of new analogue only TVs several years before the switch over – that way, there would have been much less need for set top boxes ! It would also have stopped vendors charging silly premiums for digital ready sets which also slowed uptake of digital in advance of the switchover.

    Of course, both Trading Standards and the OFT really ought to have done something about this – but of course, they aren’t all that much better than OfCom and the ICO in the toothless quango stakes. The outfit selling the box above really need prosecuting by Trading Standards – only some strong action will persuade people that this is actually something they should be taking any care over.

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