As we told you a few days ago, DTT as we currently know it disappears in Spain in less than a month to make way for HD DTT. Are we facing a new blackout? No, it's not that bad. But it will bring with it some important changes. And it is that, Starting February 14, the channels that currently broadcast in SD will disappear from the grid, since they will only be allowed to broadcast in HD. This, which in principle is good news since all channels will be obliged to broadcast with better quality, can become a headache for some users.
This change may not be creating as much hype as it did when the analogue switch-off took place, but Be careful because it can affect many of us if we do not have the equipment prepared. To put ourselves in situation, we currently have a mix of HD channels and SD channels on the grid. We identify them perfectly because in HD it says the name of the channel followed by HD. For example, the Mediaset group has Telecinco, Cuatro and Be Mad broadcasting in both HD and SD; but FDF, Boing, Divinity and Energy channels are only available in SD.
Starting February 14, all SD channels will stop broadcasting. Going back to the Mediaset example, does this mean I will stop watching FDF, Boing, Divinity and Energy? Yes, but not only those, also the more general ones, Telecinco and Cuatro if currently you can only see them in SD. So let's take a look at what we will need in a little less than a month to be able to continue watching DTT and what we can do if we don't have it.
How can I know if my television is compatible with HD DTT?
The first thing we need to know is if we have a television compatible with HD DTT. The easiest way to know is check if we are currently watching HD channels that are on broadcast. We will know because, as we said before, next to the logo or the name of the channel it will say HD, as you can see in the image above. According to the official website of the corresponding Ministry, more than 98% of current devices are compatible with HD broadcasts. But if you have a TV that is very old, the ideal is that you check it.
If you can watch HD channels at this time, then you don't have to worry about anything. The work already falls on the different communication groups that we have in Spain, which will have to adapt their broadcasts so that channels such as the aforementioned FDF, Boing, Divinity or Energy (among many others) do not disappear from the grid. But if you do a channel search and it doesn't show you any HD channels, then you have a problem.
If your current television is not compatible with HD DTT, you have two options. Or you will have to change television to a more modern one that is compatible with HD technology (all current models are); or you will have to purchase an external decoder or tuner with HD capability. These devices connect to the antenna cable and the television and allow you to receive the DTT signal in high definition format.
Being a little more technical, we are going to need a device that has a tuner compatible with at least the DVB-T standard working on H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. And while we're at it, if it can be a DVB-T2 type tuner compatible with the H.264 and H.265 video codecs, much better, so we will be prepared for the future. Logically, all this applies when we are watching DTT through the community antenna or our private antenna connected directly to the television. If we use a decoder from Movistar, Vodafone or any other operator we have nothing to worry about.
I don't want to buy a new television or add an external device, what other options do I have?
Is there an alternative to watching HD DTT if my current television is not compatible, I don't want to change TV and I don't want to add another “clutter” to the living room? If this is your case, The only thing you have left is to pull the Internet. Using the network you have several options available, although they will never be as “comfortable” and accessible as DTT itself, of course.
The first and perhaps easiest to assume is use an IPTV list. Be careful, we are talking about legal IPTV lists, which there are also, since all the channels broadcast over the Internet for free. To use an IPTV list of this type you will need an application compatible with IPTV, be it Kodi or any of the applications that you have on the different manufacturers' operating systems. For example, here we leave you a Github link from which you can download an IPTV list with thousands of channels from all over the world (as we said, totally legal).
But of course, if your television does not have a tuner compatible with HD DTT, it is very likely that it does not have applications either. That is, it will not be a Smart TV. So, how do we use an IPTV application on a television that does not have that possibility? Effectively, using an external device. For example, so that they do not take up too much space and not spend a lot of money, You can opt for an Amazon Fire TV or a Chromecast with Google TV from Google. Both devices have very affordable HD versions.
Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite
Chromecast with Google TV (HD)
Lastly, if setting up an IPTV list is too complicated for you, you can always opt for an application that you already have the DTT HD channels configured. For example, at AVPasión we have talked at length about two very well-known applications: TDTChannels vs Tivify. The first is free, although it has a slightly more “spartan” interface and is not available on all systems. The second is prettier but does not include the Mediaset and Atresmedia channels in its free plan, so we will have to pay a monthly fee to watch them.
And finally, if you don't like any of these options, All that remains is to use a web browser to view the channels through the official pages of each of them.. If you enter any of them you will see, generally at the top, a button to go directly to the broadcast that the channel is doing at that moment.
Am I going to stop watching any channel when they switch to HD DTT?
That as of February 14, it will be mandatory for all channels to broadcast in HD may lead to some channels that are not adapted before that date disappearing from the grid. It is something that does not depend on us as users, but on the communication groups responsible for the channels. However, it seems like everyone is doing their homework. The Mediaset group has already announced that from February 14 all its channels will be available in HD. RTVE has also done the same (the only thing missing). And although we have not seen any official announcement, we imagine that Atresmedia will not be left behind.
Perhaps those most in danger are the provincial channels and, above all, the local ones.. However, as we explained a few days ago, the fact that since February 14 it is mandatory to broadcast in HD does not mean that all broadcasts will have a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. Most likely, several channels will scale their broadcasts from the current 576 or 720 pixels to the 1080 requested in the Official State Gazette. Done the law done the snare.
And one last thing, due to the disappearance of standard definition services and their evolution to high definition, the number of channels found and their position in the channel list could change, so we may have to reorder, and in some cases retune, the channels. So once we make sure that we can watch HD DTT with our device (be it a TV or an external decoder), the ideal would be to do a new channel search starting February 14 to leave everything in order.