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Thursday, 30 July 2009

Digital Switchover or switched off?

Here in our Cumbrian village, there are growing rumblings from many about the switchover. We are the first region to go.... Are there some glitches? Could it be that it hasn't worked as planned?....

I've only played on a few of the 'smitten' digiboxes to date, but it does rather seem there may be a problem....We have 2 digiboxes in our house and since the official switchover, we seem to be having problems getting them to tune in. And stay tuned in. I've seen, and heard about this, in other houses in the village now.

It is a fairly normal occurrence now on the upstairs TV to have to retune the digibox if you want to watch anything on BBC1 or BBC2. Which requires a little forethought as that is not an instant procedure and can take up to 10 minutes. And then it never works as planned, giving us untold iterations of BBC1 and BBC2, none of which work....Try another channel to see if your program on C4 has started and you won't get BBC1 back without retuning.

Both digiboxes in our house now have channels in random order, which makes finding the channel you want to watch a frustrating experience as it could be anywhere on the guide.

We got used to the 'splodge' sound and on hold jerkiness in the run up to switchover, but now it is normal. And frustrating. Imagine watching a program on TV where all of a sudden the picture freezes, for anything up to 10 or more seconds. The audio often continues, but, without an animated picture, it does make the story line difficult to follow. Frequently, the sound goes 'splodge', the whole lot freezes for a second or so, and then we continue watching our program. That is disconcerting too, and not quite what we expected from digital. The analogue stuff worked fine, and didn't suffer from that issue..... but we can no longer pick up our 4 analogue channels.

Teletext is a desperately frustrating process now - it takes long, long minutes to load anything, so no longer do you wake up, switch on Ceefax and Teletext (or whatever they are now called), check out news headlines, tech news and local news in bed before getting up. You just have to get up and google that info, or not (it is just too hard to find online. So easy on the remote - 100, 164, 300 etc). Which has actually left us out of the loop on much that we previously discovered and enjoyed about our interests and community through the TV. Dunno how you would cope if you don't have broadband or a computer...

Retune your digibox to get BBC1 again (yawn) and you often find yourself with 20, 30 or even 50 duplicate BBC1 channels, none of which work. I hate to say it but no BBC1 is one helluva loss, and it is one of the few channels I am willing to pay the license fee for.

The worst bit is "No information available". We see that for multiple channels now, day in and day out. There is just no signal and there have been days where we are down to one working channel out of 80+ on Freeview. And that's often a shopping, chat or holiday sales channel. UGH!

And it's not just us....there are less than 400 people here. You get to hear the complaints from the neighbours quite quickly. It seems to be widespread. Yet, none of us have seen anything on the News yet....probably because we can't actually get the news half the time.

Has the digital switchover worked or not? Or is it some problem with all of our digiboxes? We can find plenty of evidence online that digiboxes suffer hardware etc failure, and that some are better than others, so is that the problem? And what caused it? Yet, from what I can discover, the digiboxes in the village have been bought from many different outlets, are different makes etc....

If all of us are facing replacing our digiboxes, then in an area where the average wage is 63% of the national average wage, this switchover could actually find us switched off. I cannot afford to replace a digibox once a decade, let alone once a year.

I have to admit that since the switchover I have watched considerably less TV because I just can't face the hassle of trying to find a channel that works.

Is there a widespread problem in the first digital switchover region?? If so, what does that mean for you lot who are about to get switched over? Switched on or off? Right now, from our experience here in the Borders and Cumbria, I'd say: be prepared for the latter....

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