Digital TV brings many benefits: extra free channels, potentially better reception, HD broadcasts, and an electronic program guide. But it also has its own nuisances. Here's five things about digital TV that continue to annoy Lifehacker readers.
5. Unpredictable scheduling
Admittedly, this isn't just a problem for the digital-only extra channels: even on the "main" network channels, the general attitude towards scheduling is one where viewers are treated with contempt, with programs pulled at the last minute, starting 15 minutes after the scheduled time, and withdrawn halfway through a crucial storyline. It's arguably even more pronounced on the commercial digital channels though. Reader Clint summed it up nicely:
If the new channels mean up to date good TV shows shown on time, in order, without a sudden repeat thrown in, or a sporting event etc, everyone should be happy. I don't understand why this is so hard in Australia.
4. Delayed broadcasting
A classic trick to avoid mind-numbing sports commentary is to watch the TV broadcast with the sound turned down, while listening to a radio stream from the ABC (or another international broadcaster if you go online). However, this often doesn't work with digital broadcasts, which appear to be delayed by a few seconds — just enough to ruin the sync between the commentary and what's on screen.
3. Multiple channels that are anything but
With three channels from every free-to-air network on offer (once 11 kicks off next year), there should be a wide range of options on offer, right? Not necessarily. Mumbrella highlighted one particularly embarrassing recent example: on a recent Saturday, both of Nine's secondary channels, Go! and GEM, were scheduled to show a repeat episode of The Nanny. Nine managed to fix that particular snafu, but it emphasises how having extra channels often just means a sea of repeats.
Even that sea of repeats can take a while to spread. While regional areas have been amongst the first to switch solely to digital, they haven't always benefitted from the full range of options. It was only last month that the government announced funding to ensure that all areas in Australia could receive a full set of digital channels.
2. All or nothing reception
We've all been there: wiggling around an external antenna on an older TV set to try and get the best picture on a particular channel. That's not an option with digital, at least in our experience: either there's a signal there or you've got absolutely nothing at all. That usually means paying an antenna installer to crawl all over your roof, and even then the results can be variable.
1. Restricted HD options
Each commercial network has HD spectrum in its digital channels, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they've been deployed in a way that all viewers like. Many Lifehacker readers clearly preferred it when the networks ran "simulcast" channels including HD content rather than separate channels which just happen to be in HD. An ongoing complaint is the lack of HD sports broadcasts — something which probably won't change until the networks go all-digital in 2013. As reader C-Mac put it recently:
A few years ago, 7 and 9 were both sprouting on about HD sports and how wonderful everything will look, and now they don’t even use the HD channels for anything worthwhile. I don’t need to see Ellen in HD, but the cricket would be nice!
What are your biggest bugbears with digital TV? Share your pain in the comments.
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