Here in Munich where I live, the DVB-T countdown has started and will become alive end of this month. DVT-T (Digital Video Broadcasting Terrestrial - and in all its different classes with C for Cable, S for Satellite and T for Terrestrial) delivers virtually any digital to the home. Whether it's High Definition TV, multiple channel Standard definition TV (PAL, NTSC or SECAM) or new broadband multimedia content and interactive services, DVB delivers owing to the use of MPEG-2 packets as "data containers", and the critical DVB Service Information surrounding and identifying those packets.
DVB-T is either adopted, in trial or already launched in many European and Asian as well as Oceania countries. Following the successful expansion of the DVB-T network in Germany's capital Berlin two years ago, the next phase is now underway. Since 24 May 2004, up to 20 TV programs on five channels can be received in the Cologne / Bonn area, and up to 16 TV programs on four channels each in Hanover / Braunschweig and Bremen / Unterweser. In November 2004, additional channels started operation; the areas to be covered include the Dusseldorf area / Ruhr district, Hamburg, Lubeck, Kiel and the Rhine-Main area. The final expansion of this phase in these areas, with up to 24 programs, is scheduled for April 2005. The launch date for DVB-T in Bavaria is on 31 May 2005. In the course of 2005, the network will be further expanded in the reception areas of Rostock / Schwerin, Kassel, Erfurt / Weimar, Halle / Leipzig, Ludwigshafen / Mannheim as well as Stuttgart.
So the old analogue antenna TV is gone end of this month in Munich and as you might have recognized already - I don't have cable at home for several reasons:
- So far I've received 12 (the most important) channels in Munich via analogue antenna anyway.
- I'm not watching TV that much that a cable contract makes sense for me.
- Last but not least: a cable is a cable and not wireless/unwired. ;-)
Nevertheless, I've tested DVB-T at my parents already last Christmas when DVB-T was switched-on in Frankfurt and I was truly amazed! The picture quality is fantastic, the sound is Hi-Fi/Dolby Surround, you get extra services like EPG (Electronic Program Guide) but - and that's the downside - you need a set-top box which needs to be plugged between the antenna and the TV.
So I was out yesterday to pick-up my set-top box and I decided to chose the "Siemens Mobile Gigaset M740 AV" DVB-T set-top box which includes some fantastic features (but is available in Germany only yet) I haven't seen with any other set-top boxes:
- Twin (2) DVB-T receivers
- 7 days EPG (Electronic Program Guide)
- Picture in picture functionality
- 2 USB 2.0 ports to connect USB harddisks
- 10/100 LAN connector
- Recoding on USB HDDs or LAN connected PC!
- Time shift functionality
- Video, music, picture streaming/playback from the PC to your TV
- Support for picture and music playlists
- W-LAN support
That's cool, I can make my TV/set-top box combination part of my home network now and will be able to record TV shows either on my PC or on my external HDD (which is in this case my Apple iPod). TV is recorded in *.mpg which means you can virtually play it on any PC but also with your Pocket PC and Smartphone (if you have a MPEG player installed) and for sure you can stream it back, from your PC to your TV. Additionally you can convert your recordings to VCD/SVCD to burn it to CDs or DVDs or you convert it to WMV to play it with Portable Media Centers (anyone knows if there is a Microsoft Media Center plugin to play MPEG files with Media Center Edition PCs as well?).
While I have decided to wait with my Microsoft Media Center Edition PC until the models I'm awaiting becomes available (either the Shuttle or the latest HP) and until DVB-T is up and running here (so I don't need to buy an analogue TV-card first), for me this is a major step into the connected media home! :-)
Basically it also means for me, that I can access my recorded TV shows from anywhere in the world (thanks to Orb) while - and that's a downside of the Gigaset M740 AV - I can not access the set-top box remotely to program a recording.
Anyway - I'm really excited about the Gigaset M740 AV features and I like the way Siemens made the network and HDD integration. Now DVB-T have to start and I wonder when they will switch it on? I've tested it today but haven't received any channels yet; therefore everything is a little bit theoretic yet but streaming a sample movie from my PC to my TV already worked. ;-) It's going to become a true wireless media spring for me!
Last but not least DVB-T is interesting for another reason called "DVB-H" (Digital Video Broadcasting Handheld) which means live TV broadcasting on your mobile devices - instead of video streaming though 3G/UMTS. DVB-H is already trialing in several regions all over the world and it might be the future of mobile TV. However, the base for DVB-H is DVB-T!
Cheers ~ Arne