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.
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.