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Freesat Freeview Euro Tv Sky The best kit, The best programmes

ABC guide to... Step-by-step guides to understanding digital TV

jan/feb 2011

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Part 1

The logos adorning digital TV equipment can often be as confusing as they are informative. Learn to decode the dingbats with part one of our graphical guide Many satellite and terrestrial digital receivers, TVs and other AV equipment are plastered with symbols proclaiming their abilities – in the adverts, on the packaging, on removable stickers on the front panel, or printed directly on the casing as a permanent reminder. Although some manufacturers clearly believe that when it comes down to logos, more is definitely merrier, they can provide a handy specification guide once you know their mystic meaning.


Freesat Only satellite receivers and integrated TVs compatible with, and licensed by Freesat can carry the Freesat logo. It means that the receiver is able to receive all the (SD) Freesat channels (when connected to a suitable dish), receive and display the Freesat EPG, receive Freesat interactive services, automatically update its channel list of Freesat channels, and is set up and operated within the same guidelines as other Freesat receivers. Satellite receivers without the logo can usually pick up the channels but not the other services.

3D As yet, there is no universally agreed standardisation of 3D formats for broadcast TV, and so no official ‘3D-Ready’ logo for TVs or receivers. This has not stopped some manufacturers from labelling their products with a 3D logo, but you should not assume that one

product with a 3D logo will necessarily work with another with a different (or even the same) logo. Sky+ HD receivers have no 3D logo but will (of course) receive Sky 3D transmissions and can provide a 3D display with all the leading models of 3D TVs.

Audio Description The AD logo is worn by equipment such as digital receivers and recorders that is able to receive the additional soundtrack broadcast with some programmes to describe what is happening on screen for visuallyimpaired viewers. UK broadcasters are required to provide this service on many of their programmes.

Freesat HD This logo is carried by Freesat receivers that are able to receive the high-definition Freesat channels (BBC One HD, BBC HD and ITV1 HD). Apart from reception and output of the HD channels, all other aspects of the receiver are the same as standard-definition Freesat boxes.

Freesat+ The Freesat+ logo indicates that a receiver will pause and record Freesat broadcasts using a built-in hard disc drive. Freesat+ boxes have two tuners to record/watch two channels at once and can be set to automatically record subsequent programmes in a series. All Freesat+ recorders are also Freesat HD receivers, able to receive (and record) all Freesat HD and SD channels – the same does not apply to Freeview+ recorders.

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Digital Tick This certification mark is assigned by Digital UK and carried by TVs, Freeview and satellite (Freesat and Sky) receivers and recorders to show that they will work through the digital switchover. However, the lack of a Digital Tick logo does not necessarily mean that the equipment will not work after the switchover, as manufacturers and importers of foreign-made equipment, in particular,

do not usually apply for the Digital Tick certification. The Digital Tick logo is also displayed by service providers such as Sky, Freesat and Freeview to show that they broadcast digital services, and by licensed Registered Digital Installers to indicate that they are insured, safe, and qualified to install digital aerials and other equipment.

abc guide to... Ethernet/Broadband/LAN Many receivers have an Ethernet connection for accessing the internet via a local area network, which may potentially be used for downloading software upgrades, communicating payment and authorisations, or for streaming broadband catch-up TV. The logo indicating an Ethernet connection does not guarantee that any of these facilities are provided - Freesat HD receivers use broadband to access the BBC iPlayer, whereas the Ethernet

Freeview Freeview Carried by terrestrial digital receivers and integrated TVs compatible with (and licensed by) Freeview. This means that the receiver can receive all the Freeview channels available in your area when connected to a suitable aerial, receive and display the Freeview EPG, receive Freeview interactive services, and is set up and operated like other Freeview receivers.

socket on Sky+HD boxes has only just been put to use.

Freeview HD Freeview receivers that are able to receive the high-definition Freeview channels (BBC One HD, BBC HD, ITV1 HD and 4HD) display the Freeview HD logo. These receivers will also receive SD Freeview channels, and other aspects of the receiver are the same as other Freeview boxes. HD terrestrial receivers without the Freeview HD logo (e.g. overseas models) may not receive the Freeview HD channels.

DiSEqC 1.0/DiSEqC 1.1 The Digital Satellite Equipment Control (DiSEqC) standard was developed to enable satellite receivers to switch between LNBs receiving signals from different satellites. The DiSEqC 1.0 standard allows for a receiver to select between up to four LNBs while the

DiSEqC 1.2/USALS Digital Satellite Equipment Control (DiSEqC) level 1.2 allows a satellite receiver to control a motorised dish mount using only the single LNB signal cable. DiSEqC commands to the motor are sent along the co-ax cable superimposed on the supply voltage,

Dolby Digital/Dolby Digital Plus A digital TV receiver with a Dolby Digital logo is able to decode the Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround sound soundtrack (also called AC-3), which is broadcast with most HD TV. Dolby Digital sound is delivered via the digital audio (S/PDIF) socket or HDMI, which must be

DiSEqC 1.1 standard can connect to as many as 16. Receivers with these logos can produce the required DiSEqC commands, which are sent up the LNB cable to either suitable DiSEqC switches or monoblock LNBs at the dish, which perform the actual switching function.

Freeview+ The Freeview+ logo indicates that a receiver will operate as a Freeview receiver and it will record programmes and/or pause live broadcasts, using a built-in hard disc drive. Freeview+ boxes may have two tuners (to record/ watch two channels at once) but not all do. However, the timer is set from the EPG and will automatically record subsequent programmes in a series. Freeview+ recorders may be SD or HD receivers. DTT recorders without a Freeview+ logo will not necessarily have all the features (such as series recording) of Freeview+.

to a DiSEqC 1.2 motor to move the dish east, west or to a stored satellite position, store a position, set movement limits and reset itself. The USALS system, developed by Stab, extends the idea to provide automatic satellite position-finding.

connected to a Dolby Digital surround sound system. Dolby Digital Plus is an enhanced format supporting up to 13 sound channels of improved quality, designed for HD broadcast platforms, and is used in the Freeview HD system n Geoff Bains

A typical smorgasbord of compatibility logos

Jan/Feb 2011  What Satellite & Digital TV  3

Part 2

The logos adorning digital TV equipment can often be as confusing as they are informative. Learn to decode the dingbats with part one of our graphical guide The logos and symbols found on the advertisements and packaging of satellite and terrestrial TV equipment, and even on the equipment itself, can tell you a great deal about what the gear can and cannot do. So we continue our alphabetic look at the cryptic world of logos n Geoff Bains

DVB/DVB-S/DVB-T/DVB-S2/DVB-T2 The DVB logos on digital equipment show that it follows one of the suite of standards set by the Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) project – as all digital TV equipment in the UK must do. There are more than 35 DVB standards for different means of transmission and distribution, covering video and audio format, compression and modulation. The four most often seen on DTT and satellite equipment are DVB-S for satellite broadcasts in SD and some HD (e.g. BBC and ITV HD), DVB-S2 for (most) HD satellite broadcasts (including Sky HD), DVB-T for digital terrestrial broadcasts such as Freeview, and DVB-T2 for high-definition DTT such as Freeview HD. DVB compliance is only the start of successful reception and so just because a receiver sports a DVB-S2 logo, you cannot assume it can be used for Sky HD.


HD TV/HD TV 1080p Satellite and DTT receivers and integrated TVs capable of receiving high-definition broadcasts may be labelled with the HD TV logo (or the HD TV 1080p logo for those that can receive 1080p, or ‘full HD’, signals) but only some receivers actually are. Freeview, Freesat and Sky HD services broadcast in the 720p and 1080i formats and so you will not see an HD TV 1080p logo on these set top boxes (only on Blu-ray players, and so on). HD Ready/HD Ready 1080p TVs (and projectors) that can display the HD TV signals should be marked with the HD Ready logo while full HD TVs, with a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080, can use the HD Ready 1080p logo. You must use a TV with one of these logos for HD viewing from Sky, Freesat or Freeview. HD Ready 1080p TVs are not strictly necessary for these services but arguably produce better pictures from these signals than the lower resolution HD Ready sets.

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Linux The Linux logo is sported by satellite and cable receivers using Linux-based operating firmware which can be user-upgraded with enhanced versions, often produced by third parties, to add functionality, particularly for unofficial reception of pay-TV services. Linuxpowered receivers that aren’t user-upgradeable don’t usually carry the Linux logo.

SD You will find the logo for Secure Digital (SD) memory cards on receivers that accept this plug-in storage for PVR recordings, and for photographs and MP3 music files to playback on the TV.

HDMI The High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) interface is the best connection to link any digital receiver to a modern digital TV screen. One cable carries uncompressed video and multi-channel audio in an all-digital format. The HDMI standard has been upgraded since it was introduced, with support for increased video resolution, other sound formats and networking, and the versions are numbered 1.0-1.4 (the latest). The official logo is the same for all versions, but some equipment shows the version number. Sky+ HD uses version 1.1, which means that Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound is not sent via HDMI. Freesat HD and Freeview HD boxes use HDMI 1.3 and don’t suffer from this problem.

Multipicture Display/Mosaic The Mosaic logo on a receiver’s front panel shows that it can display a screen of ‘thumbnail’ images of a series of channels to aid selection of the one you want.socket on Sky+HD boxes has only just been put to use.

PCMCIA The common interface socket for plug-in CAM modules on independent satellite receivers and some DTT receivers and integrated TVs shares the same physical configuration as PCMCIA plug-in modules used in laptop computers and occasionally the PCMCIA logo is displayed on the receiver or the packaging, even though the electrical pin-out is quite different and computer PCMCIA modules cannot be used.

abc guide to... SCR/Unicable The single-cable router system allows several satellite receivers to be run from one (special) LNB and a single cable from the dish. Both the relatively few receivers that are compatible with the system, and the SCR LNBs, display the SCR logo or the proprietary Unicable equivalent.

MPEG-2/MPEG-4/DIVX A receiver with the MPEG-4 logo can decode the MPEG-4 compression used for HD broadcasts. You may also see the MPEG-2 label (SD transmissions) on some receivers and even the DivX logo if the receiver can decode DivX files from hard disc or memory sticks.

PVR/PVR Ready While there is no ‘official’ logo for personal video recorders (PVRs) that can ‘pause’ a live programme and record broadcasts to a hard disc drive for later playback, many independent receivers brandish a generic PVR logo. Those that have the operating software for PVR functions but require storage memory to be added externally (a plug-in memory card or stick, or a portable hard drive) are termed PVR Ready.

Wi-Fi The Wi-Fi logo shows that the equipment can connect to a local area network or broadband modem with a wireless connection. Most digital receivers or recorders use only a wired broadband connection but TV equipment such as media players more commonly connect wirelessly. A wireless connection may be convenient, but a cabled connection (via an RJ-45 Ethernet socket) is often better as it reliably feeds the high data speeds required for multiple or HD live video transmission.

Time Shift This unofficial logo (or another variant) is used by some receiver makers to show that a PVR can be used to record a programme to watch later, at different times, repeatedly, and skipping through unwanted section. However, this probably applies to every PVR available so it doesn’t materially help, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can, say, start to watch a recording before recording has finished – a feature not found on all PVRs.


Sky The Sky logo on a satellite receiver shows that it contains the Videoguard CAM required to view encrypted channels included in the Sky Digital network, which is not available in any other receiver. Such an official Sky receiver will also receive and display the Sky EPG and Sky’s interactive services, and automatically update its channel list of Sky channels. Receivers with Sky logos all use the same family of remote control handsets and onscreen menus. Sky+ The first satellite PVR receiver to be sold in the UK was Sky’s Sky+ box and all subsequent PVRs from Sky have the same name and logo to signify that they operate in the same way, the only functional difference being the storage capacity for recordings. The Sky+ logo also shows that the receiver is a Sky receiver and has all the features and facilities of a non-recording Sky box. Sky+HD The only receivers that will receive Sky’s HD channels are HD versions of the Sky+ box, and so they sport a Sky+HD logo. Functionally, a Sky+HD receiver is otherwise identical to a standard-definition Sky+ machine.

MP3 PVR receivers with plug-in storage (memory cards, sticks, etc) that can play MP3 music files may display an MP3 logo.

USB/USB 2.0 Satellite and terrestrial receivers may carry the USB logo if they have one or more computer Universal Serial Bus (USB) connectors for connecting storage devices or other equipment. A few receivers use USB only to download upgraded operating software from either a computer, another receiver or a storage device (memory stick or portable hard drive) but most additionally allow storage devices to connect via USB to provide PVR storage (as well as or instead of an internal hard drive). In some cases this also allows for easy transfer of video recording files between the receiver and a PC. The USB 2.0 standard provides for faster transfer of data through the connection (for playback of HD recordings) than the original USB standard but this requires USB 2.0-compliant devices to be connected. Jan/Feb 2011  What Satellite & Digital TV  5

ABC guide to Digital TV Logos  
ABC guide to Digital TV Logos  

The logos adorning digital TV equipment can often be as confusing as they are informative. Learn to decode the dingbats with our graphical g...