What is digital television?

Digital transmissions do for television what the CD did for audio - an end to noisy pictures and reflections. It also brings more channels, new text services, and now extra functionality too by way of interactive services. Add to this better sound and picture quality with many programmes in widescreen format, and the result is literally a televisual revolution. Furthermore, digital transmissions are definitely the broadcasting standard of the long term future, the Government having confirmed that they will switch off the current system of analogue transmitters possibly as early as 2006. This means that by then all television viewers in the UK will have to have some form of digital receiving equipment.

Do you need a new television?

No. "Digital television" is a generic term. A set top box converts the digital signal into a signal that your present television can understand and handle. However, you will get better performance if your television has scart connections at the back - most televisions in recent years have incorporated such a connection. Of course, wide screen televisions will show wide screen broadcasts in their full glory - as if you are at the cinema! In future years you may see some televisions on the market that have the "set top box" built in. Whilst compact, the disadvantage of such televisions is that they are not intended to relay the digital channels to a second location in the house or, as often is required, to all the televisions in the house. Non built in set top boxes will allow channels to be relayed.

How you can receive Sky's Digital satellite service.

New satellites have been placed into position at 28.2 East and these are now beaming digital channels to the UK. A small satellite dish (60cm) externally installed is cabled to a set top box which will convert the signal and input it into your present vcr and television. Connection of the set top box to your existing telephone line allows interactive or Pay-Per-View services to be used. Programme subscription packages start from 7.00 per month. All BBC Digital channels as well as Channel 4 and Channel 5 are available on the SkyDigital service. ITV is not yet available on SkyDigital, but indications are that it will be "by 2002" if not earlier. However, as the SkyDigital signal will be tuned to a spare channel on your television, it is simply a matter of pressing  "TV" and "3" on your SkyDigital remote control to watch ITV in the usual analogue way.

What if you have an analogue satellite system now?

Sky have confirmed they will switch off their analogue satellite service in June 2001. Indeed, Sky have already started switching off selected channels on a phased basis. If you want to switch over to SkyDigital, you can easily do so at any time. The dish will usually need to be replaced and slightly re-aligned to face 28.2 East, and a digital set top box installed. Ask us about upgrading whilst keeping your current analogue system at the same time. See below for further information relating to existing Sky subscribers.

Who and what is ONdigital?

ONdigital is owned by Carlton Television and the Granada Group. Their service started in November 1998 and uses even more revolutionary technology! Their digital channels can be received via your existing rooftop aerial - provided it is suitable and has sufficient power. Subscribe to your selected channel package, connect up the set top box, and you are watching digital television! ONdigital offer up to 30-35 channels which include all the present terrestrial channels as well as the new BBC Digital channels. ONdigital channel subscription packages start at 6.99 per month. Any initial problems setting up the set top box (which is sold to you "over the counter") will be speedily dealt with via a dedicated help line run by ONdigital. 
Will ONdigital work with my existing aerial?

Before we sell you an ONdigital set top box, we will check your postcode with transmission data provided to us by ONdigital. This will tell us whether or not your home or business is capable of receiving terrestrial digital broadcasts at this time. If the answer is positive but your ONdigital system fails to work when you install it, then modifications to your existing aerial (or even replacement) are required.

Are there other digital satellite channels than those offered by SKY?

Yes, hundreds are broadcasting now - mainly foreign language channels but some are in English. Customers with motorised satellite dishes will know the enjoyment they can have receiving analogue channels from the many satellites now broadcasting to European countries and beyond.

What about non Sky and foreign language channels?

Multi satellite and motorised systems have never been so popular. We can advise you on the equipment and how best to receive these many additional digital channels. If you have a special language requirement, we'll help you track down track down the appropriate channels (if they exist!) and design an appropriate system just for your needs. As a start, see details of our "Special Equipment Packages" below.

What are interactive services?

Interactive services literally transform your television from being simply a box you watch into a powerful multi-function tool that can be used to do anything from shopping to learning and communicating with others worldwide. Interactive services also allow you to have greater control over how you watch television, for example, by allowing you, the viewer, to decide from which camera angle you watch a sporting event. Both SkyDigital and ONdigital have the ability to offer interactive services. In most cases, all you need do to fully utilise these services is have the set-top box connected to your phone line. 

Interactive services are distinct from internet services in that they and their content are controlled and regulated "walled gardens", purpose designed to be easy to use and much more secure. There is also no interface between the two.

What interactive services are on offer?

Although Sky offer their own interactive services, the main provider of such services on SkyDigital is Open..., a separate company jointly owned and operated by BSkyB and BT. Open... offers shopping services from a large number of major High Street "names", banking, information services, e-mail, and games - you're even able to order a take away pizza with near immediate delivery so you can eat it whilst watching TV! Educational services will be added in due course as part of what is a continually evolving service.  All transactions made via Open... are protected by a secure link supplied and maintained for them by HSBC. Other companies will start offering their own separate interactive services via SkyDigital soon.  

ONdigital now offer an e-mail service as well as a small range of interactive shopping services and games.  A free dedicated infa-red keyboard and add-on module is required for your set-top box before you can use the email service.

But what about the Internet?

In November, Sky will launch Sky Net, a limited internet service that uses the SkyDigital set-top box to allow viewing of selected web sites via your television. Full, high speed internet access will possibly become available via SkyDigital sometime in the future.

ONdigital have launched ONnet offering full internet access via your television. A second free add-on module is required for your set-top box before you can use the service. The service has a subscription charge of 5 per month, with usage calls being charged at local rate. Higher speed internet access will possibly become available sometime in the future.


So how much does the equipment cost?

SkyDigital systems are now FREE of charge for new or existing (analogue) subscribers. This is subject to taking a SkyDigital subscription, and agreeing to have your system connected to your phone line. You only have to pay for installation. Your subscription also entitles you to qualify for 40% off your BT call charges.

ONdigital set-top boxes are also now FREE - provided you take an ONdigital subscription, subject to their terms and conditions. As part of your subscription, you are also able to get up to 40% off your BT call charges. After sign up and registration, we give you the box to take home and install. If you require us to install it, we can do so for a small fee. We will also be happy to quote for any aerial work if required.  If you wish to take full advantage of pay per view, e-mail, or forthcoming interactive services, your set-top box will need to be connected to a telephone line (see below).

Our Special Equipment Packages (please come in-store for prices).

SkyDigital 28.2 / Astra 19.2 Analogue Package - This caters for reception of SkyDigital PLUS Astra's analogue channels. This is especially useful if either different family members want to watch two channels at the same time, or you still want to watch any of the European foreign language channels that broadcast on Astra 19.2 but are not available on SkyDigital. The System comprises of a 60cm mesh dish, 2 universal LNBs, multi-LNB bracket, fixing brackets, and dual cabling from dish to both a SkyDigital set-top box and a BT SVS260 analogue receiver. The SkyDigital box must be linked to a telephone socket.

SkyDigital 28.2 / "Hotbird" 13.2 Analogue Package - This caters for reception of SkyDigital PLUS the many foreign language channels now available throughout Europe via the Eutelsat "Hotbird" satellites. The System comprises of an 80cm mesh dish, 2 universal LNBs, multi-LNB bracket, fixing brackets, and dual cabling from dish to both a SkyDigital set-top box and a BT SVS260 analogue receiver. The SkyDigital box must be linked to a telephone socket.

Available optional extras and accessories (for either system, unless stated).

New link to a second television
New link to a distribution system
Existing link to a distribution system
Infa-red "eye" for remote channel changing
Additional (SkyDigital) handset
Powermid+ radio handset

The Open... interactive service has been designed so that it can be used entirely via the standard SkyDigital remote control. However, as a probably more preferable alternative - particularly with regard to e-mail which from our personal experience is very laborious to write otherwise - we also sell specially dedicated infa-red lap-top keypads. These cost 34.99.

To use the e-mail service of ONdigital, an infa-red keypad and telephone connection kit costing 30 must be purchased with your system. This will be sent to you by post by ONdigital within 28 days of your purchase from us. Connecting your set-top box up to a telephone line also allows you to order pay per view movies or events at a discounted price using the ONdigital remote control.

If you want to go SkyDigital what should you do now?

A visit to our Northwood showroom is essential. There, we will demonstrate the system to you and complete the formalities.

If you want to go ONdigital what should you do now?

You must come into the showroom for registration purposes. Orders cannot be placed over the telephone or internet.


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