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DVB-T in New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Feb-2008 16:52

Sometime later this year New Zealanders will be able to receive high definition digital TV broadcast thanks to Freeview.

Currently Freeview offers DVB-S services - the "S" means satellite - and while the service is digital it is not high definition TV.

On the other hand the upcoming DVB-T service - where "T" means terrestrial - will broadcast high definition content, but not until later in the year.

If you have the appropriate hardware you are able to get the trial signals for now with standard TV but digital quality.

Since the DVB-T services are on trial now and we have a new Media Center PC in the lounge I decided to try it. Thanks to Fossie's very good "Ultimate New Zealand DTT (DVB-T) Summary/Guide" I managed to configure DVBViewer to use the Hauppage WinTV-HVR 900 USB receiver and capture the signal.

It helped that we have almost line of sight to Mt Kaukau and its Kordia transmitter.

I have the HVR 900 USB stick plugged to my Apple Mac mini running Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (for its Media Center capabilities). The Apple Mac mini hardware supports the DVBViewer running in full screen, decoding H.264 content and using between 40% and 50% CPU - great performance.

The only problem is that Windows Vista Media Center does not support DVB-T in its native mode - at least in New Zealand. If I start a scan it comes empty, while DVBViewer shows fifteen channels.

Microsoft, are you going to have this fixed before launch? I raise my hand to test it!
 
I don't know why, because the TV setup in Media Center lists Terrrestrial but I guess it doesn't "know" the New Zealand frequencies.

Anyway, you can't simply use the standard software decoders on your system to watch these channel as they are all encoded with the H.264 standard. A good suggestion is to use the Cyberlink H.264 codec - the one built-in their excellent PowerDVD Ultra software for high definition DVD playback. 

Of course when this goes mainstream we should expect to see easy-to-use receivers that won't require things such as" viewers", "codecs", "streamers". But if you are a tech person, a geek - then go ahead and by all means try it. Very good indeed.

Currently the trials have the free to air TV channels in New Zealand, plus the special Kidzone channel. The content is not high definition yet, but the codec is the same, TV One expects to start transmission of high definition content with the Olympic games later this year.

For more good read check "What is Freeview?" by Tony Hughes.

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Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

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