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The Digital TV Changeover Sucks.

April 4, 2012

No, I’m not hanging about on this one. Say what I mean from the off. And I do mean it. This changeover sucks.

Why? For a kick off, nobody asked for it, and it’s only being done to make money for everybody who could do with earning a lot less.

Second, the picture quality isn’t half as stable – it freezes, pixillates (posh word for goes little squares) or doesn’t happen. It’s not down to ariel or equipment, just that the technology is (in my opinion), rubbish to start with.

Third, and most important, it ignores a huge number of people like myself who just are not that into technology in the first place, but do believe that we don’t need to change our TV set until the old one has worn out. Within that group are a vast number of elderly folk who not only know that wasting perfectly good electrical items is a crime (and it’s noticeable the greenies and government have remained silent on the waste there) but don’t understand much or cope well the change despite the pretty good helpline available.

My TV set was purchased in 1984, and still works fine. I’ve hooked an expensive digital box to it, one I bought many years back for some other reason, and it still works fine. But I’m annoyed I had to fork out for the box in the first place. Don’t need it, don’t want it.

Worse is the dilemma for relatives. 3 ancient sets, what do they do? 3 boxes at £30 each, or new sets, or a combination. Even with just a month before the change, they still didn’t know. A visit to a TV shop found four other customers all with the same question… and (VERY unusually for John Lewis) a staff member who couldn’t really help them decide either.

Do they stick with perfectly good TV sets, and put a rubbishy little digital box (they all are, unless you spend £100 or more on them, more in a bit) to get rubbishy freezing / skipping pictures, and – in one case of something I happily returned – a temperamental hard drive that had the habit comic Jack Dee once observed of only recording what it felt like, if it felt like it.

Or do they junk perfectly good TVs and buy new – at a cost of £300 or so for a main set. And, come to that, why are there no 14 inch screens any more? It’s actually cheaper (in one catalogue I looked at) to buy a 32 inch set than a 26 inch one in the same model range.

They opted for 3 £30 boxes… and returned them as soon as I tried to fit it for them. I don’t know what John Lewis electrical buyers think they are playing at, but selling such shoddy rubbish does their reputation no good at all.

For overseas readers, “John Lewis” is a synonym in the UK for quality at reasonable prices. They sell to the sort of person who is only interested in “good value and well made to last” and have staff who are “partners” in the company – getting a share of the profit each year. When almost all other UK retailers are in trouble, John Lewis keep going using this formula, and have indeed served me and my family well for many years… until now…

Yes, not only did they sell my relatives 3 pieces of trash that even an illegal street trader might baulk at, a particular idiot on the sales team thought it clever to sell a portable ariel too, to people who told him they lived in a poor signal area and relied on a decent roof ariel. Either JL can’t get the staff these days, or are simply ‘going to the dogs’ like everybody else, I fear.

So, my relatives are back to looking at TV sets. Worse dilemma: it’s going to cost you plenty and you want it to last a good while (they are at the point where the manufacturers’ guarantee is pretty much the same as an extended ‘lifetime’ one), so what do you buy?

Who, aside from gadget geeks and those with the sort of kid destined for ‘special’ things needs 3D? Do you really want to see Jeremy Kyle stars in HD? If so, then you need an HD recording device too so you can play them back when you can’t believe them the first time.

And I forgot that extra expense too – junking perfectly good VHS recorder and having to buy one of those. Damn Digital.

Back on track, what about “Internet TV.” Works off “Apps” apparently. And you need either a phone socket near the set or WiFi. Got neither? Doesn’t matter really, as the next generation of sets, due here next year will work without needing Apps at all, so you suckers who buy now are going to be out of date, as per usual.

Oh, and you can bet that DVB2 (no, John Lewis person didn’t know what that was, ha ha!) will become DVB6 by Thursday – or one second after the till operator has debited your card, whichever is the sooner.

I can remember being happy with 3 channels broadcasting from lunchtime (“Rainbow” and “Pipkins” onwards). Channel 4 was a big event – some great stuff (for a man alone in a room, moving on, moving on) though I admit I’ve not found Channel 5 up to much.

I occasionally watch E4 now, and the shopping channel can be fun – wondering who is buying that rubbish at that price (a weird stone globe was on sale last time I looked – from £199 to £17.49, plus £10 for call and packing; nearly phoned until I realised they wanted ME to pay THEM) and there’s the odd other channel reminds me of Channel 4’s early days (see earlier about man in room). Really, though, I don’t want or need the 300 or so options on offer.

It isn’t the progress I object to, it’s being forced to pay and choose how much – not “opt in” but “how far you opt in.” Just wrong, I think, but I feel better now for talking about it. Nothing like a good analogue moan, is there.

Why don’t they just…

 P.S. I started work almost 20 minutes late because of having to re-tune today… and will have to do it again in a couple of weeks. It just gets even better, doesn’t it…

I’m taking a break for a couple of weeks, but will return, analogue as ever, some time around the 18th April, I hope.

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