Around-Oz: Living the Dream!


Digital Set Top Boxes
Full Explanation With Pictures!
Yes - You DOOOOO Need One!

Before you get bogged down in detail, here is the answer to the most asked question - "Will a digital set top box give me better reception travelling around Australia if I buy one now?" ABSOLUTELY YES! In fact it will give you DVD quality wherever digital reception is available. And furthermore, once you have it on one set you will want it on all other receivers you own! Another popular question is "Can I receive the analogue channels as well as the digital ones when in places where all stations aren't yet digital?" Again, another yes - the aerial goes into the set top box and extra leads take the analogue. With some boxes you can use a mixture of RF and AV connections. Yet another question is "What is the difference between High Definition and Standard definition"? The short answer is you really only need standard definition as it will just give perfect analogue pictures from you existing TV. Another big question answered - On coverage, the ABC Website states that 96% of the Australian population will be able to receive digital TV by the end of 2005. It started in the USA and Britain way back in 1998! Digital television signals can transmit up to four times the information as the currently operating analogue system. This extra capacity provides TV broadcasters with the opportunity to entertain and inform us on a number of new levels through "free to air" television as we will explain fully below.

What is a Set Top Box?
So what is a set top box? Well it is a very small black box device that converts the new digital signals back into analogue to suit existing TVs. Eventually in 2008 the existing analogue TV will cease we are told everything will be pure digital. By this time you may not need one as the newer TVs will have it built in! If you have a TV capable of receiving the new 16 x 9 aspect ratio (widescreen) then this is the way to go. If your TV is called an "integrated digital TV" then you don't need a box. (please don't confuse this with the term "digital ready" - this is simply advertising hype as just about every TV made is digital ready even the 10 year old models). So for RV use you WILL need a set top box if you intend to keep your existing analogue TV, as this will be the only way to receive TV. So you may as well buy it now and reap the benefits. Obviously if you are already on satellite then you needn't worry either as all satellite signals are already digital.

High Definition TV - (HD - STB)
For RV use in our view you really don't need High Definition (HD) as the set top box gives you a picture of superb quality - don't buy one unless you intend matching it with a HD set. If you run through a surround sound system then you will also get some programs in surround sound on the HD service, but how many of us have a surround sound in the RV?

More About Standard Definition TV (Digital)
Another plus for HD and SD is built in closed captioning (sub titles) if you are a little on the deaf side. So here is all the info. When we first got interested in this new technology, we logically turned to the Internet for research and background. Sadly there is just about zilch in the actual "real life lets look at the picture actual format" we have presented here - just in case you are wondering why we have given you so much detail on such a mundane topic as TV.

What is Available?
There's currently around forty units on the market - initially you could only get the American Thompson, and these were very expensive indeed. We went with the Dick Smith Standard Definition G7659. This cost $148.00. (see Update below) It draws only 14 watts and comes in at just under 1 kg for those watching the weight of their vehicles (there are much lighter units). The DSE box is the same as the Trio and the XMS007. It will also output in 16:9 if you have a wide screen TV. There are quite a few fairly nasty el-cheapos around from the bits and pieces discounters. These could save you money, but end up giving you headaches if it fails in Broome etc. We went with Trickie Dickie simply because they are Australia wide and have a cash back, or complete swap if you have a problem in the first 12 months - i.e. a no worries/argument transaction wherever you are travelling in Oz! This is great if you have no idea where you will be on the road! Just remember to always have your docket in your motorhome. Another good thing about buying from Dick Smith, is that you get 2 weeks to test it out in the field, and if you're not happy with it, then they will give you a full refund. Now if you like living dangerously we believe you can pick el-cheapos up for as little as $75.00, but please be aware of possible warranty hiccups. If you must have a dedicated 12 volt, then Saturn have one around $350.00 - Media Star 12 Volt digital set top box. Please note that there are several boxes supplied with a plug pack so they may work OK on 12 volt.



Why You Need a Set Top Box
Now this is not a story about how to set up the Dick Smith box, but more on why you need a set top box!
The photos above show just what a typical set top box looks like - only about 10" long. The shot of the rear shows the 4 coax connections. These are needed whilst you wish to receive both analogue and digital during the transition stage. The computer connection is for software upgrades (should never be needed as Australia has entered this field very late and most problems have been solved - nice to have though just in case). The small round connection is for S video. Use this to get better picture if your TV supports it. The RCA sockets are AV (audio visual) and the fourth one (where fitted) for digital output if you have a really modern TV. This is called a SPDIF socket. It is a special output found on many Phillips and Sony products to give better sound. Please note that it doesn't give picture output. Some boxes have a Scart connector as well to replace most of the above. Don't worry too much about all this complication as most sets work fine on just the three RCA connections. If you buy the Dick Smith be aware that you DON'T get the two AAA batteries needed for the remote control. You will NOT be able to set up without the remote. So best to buy a couple of AAA's at time of purchase. Many other boxes come with batteries.


Tuning a Dick Smith Digital Set Top Box
First up a little bit about tuning. We feel it is ESSENTIAL to pick a unit that is easy to tune as you need to do this quite often when travelling. Dick Smiths doesn't do this completely automatically when you switch on, but you must dig down through the menus until you find the INSTALLATION menu. (this becomes second nature very quickly though) It will auto search and auto tune once you go into this page - you don't have to do anything and it is at least 10 times faster than tuning a good TV and totally frustration free. Getting information on signal strength is handy. Interestingly the channels get the SAME channel number wherever you travel. This is a huge time saver and you really don't have to sort them into order. The two screen photos above show the completion of this process. A very important point with this particular unit is the settings DON'T GET SAVED unless you press the OK button. The result of this is when tuning you see all these stations with a lovely strong signal, then when you exit it says "nothing in database" so you get zilch! Please note that all digital boxes wont look like this - all we doing here is trying to give you the general idea that it's not hard! A giant problem we initially had with the Dick Smith, is we assumed it was on when the red LED lit up. Not true!!!! Of course they don't bother to tell you this in the book. A bit like Windows - press start to stop! The "red" light actually means the thing is in "standby mode". Once you have tuned the box the orange and green lights will come on. This can be a bit confusing. On the first switch on, if your wiring is correct you should get either the map of the world screen for radio or a TV station. On wiring up, we suggest that you initially just try to get it working with only the TV, if you have video/DVD as well in your system. If possible use the AV connections (technically called a composite input - the little RCA sockets - one less headache as it is far easier to understand!) On older TVs you will only find two RCA sockets. These will NOT be to the same modern colour coding of yellow for video, red for right sound and white for left sound. Most will just have a red and white system. Usually the new yellow plug will go into the red socket. Put the new red plug into the white socket. An AV cable was included despite the box saying it wasn't. For all the technical RV'ers - the DSE gives absolutely zero "artifacts" using AV, which in our book means it is a very good design. Now some other boxes give much "prettier" on screen information boxes and the colour choice for "oldies" on some of the Dick Smith ones is not crash hot for older eyes. Like black printing on dark green back grounds! However, please don't be put off by this as the thing that really matters is the top quality picture and sound. One handy feature for RV'ers is last channel memory and of course the 120 minute sleep timer!


Photo Courtesy of - http://www.bluejeanscable.com/store/svideo/index.htm

What to Expect Picture Wise
We are actually writing this beside the Manning River in Taree - when we get home we will connect it up using an "S video" cable. We believe this gives the best possible picture (only about 5-10% better though). The photo above shows just what an S Video plug looks like together with the socket found on your gear. The shots below were all taken on the fringe outskirts of Sydney at Engadine using a bog standard Winegard aerial. Interestingly the signal was 77% to 98% and the household aerials around us were all reaching almost up to the moon! Rather amazing stuff, and if we still needed convincing this demo certainly clinched it! We tried it again on the road to Colo on the far northern outskirts of Sydney and it still worked brilliantly. (dreadful analogue reception area due to hills). It also worked brilliantly in Casino, Lismore and on the Gold Coast (Chinderah outside the best fish and chips in Australia!). Now Brisbane does NOT have all the bells and whistles channels that Sydney has, but it does have all the commercial channels as do all other capitols. Interestingly we tried it on an old Sony CRT with just "rabbits ears" in an extremely poor reception area near Beenleigh in Queensland. Would you believe a perfect picture with an amazing 86% signal (zero drop outs). This makes one wonder about all the advertising hype about needing a "digital ready" aerial. Quite frankly the thing will probably work with a coat hanger and no booster! So far as we can see, if you are in a "snowy" area at home it would be a brilliant move to try a box BEFORE upgrading your antenna. We will certainly be going down that path as our picture on the south side of Brisbane needs a booster, BUT with the box it needs nothing. On the road though our bog standard Winegard seems to work far better on digital than analogue and you really don't need to rotate it at all. Unlike analogue where the picture progressively gets worse the greater the distance, digital performs flawlessly until it reaches what is called the Digital Cliff technically called the Threshold. When this point is reached it completely drops out. If the signal is above the threshold, then the picture wont be affected by the antenna moving in the wind, rain or foliage moving etc. You also need to be aware that too much boost will also kill the signal. If you have problems we suggest that you try switching the booster off if you have one. We think it's safe to say that Winegards work OK with the booster on as we have tried it in so many locations now in actual on the road conditions (bush and city). You will however get into trouble with Winegards in vertical polarisation areas. You will get a very clear picture which then "freezes" for a few seconds. In these sitiations you can sometimes get near perfect results simply by using "rabbits ears". These can be picked up for under $10.00 and don't take up much space in the RV.

Where to Find More Technical Information
If you would like more info on this you might like to plough through this technical page. Another good spot to get more knowledge is the digital TV forum however all you need for RV use is really on this page, unless you need to know everything there is! One other important point is you also get radio channels. ABC has jazz and middle of the road (continuous music same as used on the Internet) , whilst SBS has a mixture of foreign language news and music. Simply pressing a button on the remote goes from TV to radio. There is a fairly comprehensive list of STB's currently on sale in Australia on this page - has manufacturers links. Rather oddly the page does not list the top selling Dick Smith boxes????? However there is a glowing review on this page with similar findings to us. It should be noted that the Dick Smith box will work with older TVs with no AV connections as it has a dedicated RF output. All you do is do a search (manual tune) or run through all the channels. On our LG for instance the RF channel for viewing digital is 11.



What Do You Get That's Better Than Analogue
Obviously you get all the normal channels where available. But, as Tim from Demtel says "wait .... but there's more"! First up it is very much like teletext, but without the long wait, as it's almost instant. We should mention that this particular box also gives you normal teletext as well. So on to the extra "goodies"! Pressing "4" gives you the shot above left. This tells you what is on air at present on all channels that are digital. (applies to Sydney) It alternates with a similar page on what's on after these programs finish. This is wonderful for RVers without a TV guide! (accidentally lit the fire with it last night etc.!) Channel 44 is the Expo Channel. An interesting one, as it is a gateway to completely new to Oz services. When it is sitting you can hear Parliament live. At other times you get to hear what is happening in the four committee rooms - fascinating stuff and not available from any other source! Another interesting feature on STB's is the ability to freeze any frame straight off air. This is also called "pause" on some brands. Why you would want to this we haven't a clue, but it is mentioned here in case your box just shows the same picture! If it does, look for the switch on your remote.



Then we have the individual channels program information pages. Pressing "9" twice brings up all of channel 9 programming for the day. This also has a "PIG" (picture in graphic) of the current program showing. See the photo above right. Now if you look back up to the top of this page you'll notice that we had 41 TV channels and 13 radio channels available (Sydney). Well it was true, as we checked them all out folks! Lots of stuff you would rarely use though, but it could come in handy! NSW Government has 45. You can actually look at traffic jams! Great in emergency times, as it gives terrific flood/cyclone/bushfire data etc. We were staying with a lass from Red Cross and she explained that it helps them enormously to distribute their volunteers in times of crisis. If you are into investments, then the Macquarie Bank has channel 47 and it gives loads of share market and real estate current commentary. We could go on for ages here, but by now, hopefully you will have got the message that there is more to set top boxes than 2/7/9/10/SBS!!! It just hasn't been explained to people properly. Rather odd as the TV channels themselves should be blitzing us with this info don't you think? The only ads you ever come across are odd ones on SBS and even these only tell you about clearer sound and pictures.

Electronic Program Guide
Not all boxes have this feature, particularly the really cheap ones, but it is great for "channel surfers". On the Dick Smith it is called EPG on the remote. Pressing it whilst in TV mode brings up a picture similar to below left. As you scroll down the channels using the remote, you get a preview of what is currently showing and if you're lucky the program that's on next. The photo below right shows the radio stations available. Both these photos were taken in Casino where like many country towns only SBS and the ABC are broadcasting so far. These screens will vary a lot on other brands - they are only here to demonstrate the principle.



Coverage Currently Available
One question we get asked a lot is" will I get coverage outside the capital cities"? Absolutely yes - eventually by 2006 it will be total coverage. We have mentioned some of the East coast towns in this article. Initially the ABC/SBS lead the way. Just be prepared to use both systems for a while. Most boxes allow the use of both systems without fiddling with cables - this is why there are so many leads. You may need to buy an extra fly lead. Just on leads - the Digital Broadcasting Australia Website insists that you only use "hex crimp sat leads". This just isn't true as we have now tested this box on different TVs and only the Winegard has used "hex crimp". We suggest you save your money! This link has a map of Australia and you can find out if a town has, or when it is expected to get, digital. Sadly this area of this otherwise great site is absolutely pathetic to use. You click on a state, then select a region. Lets say we are trying to check Shepparton. Well it's not listed is it! What you need to do is click on Goulburn Valley then you find Shepparton. This is great if you know the general names for all areas in Oz, but lets face it, most of us haven't a clue and using Hema etc. doesn't help one little bit. Why not list one state to a page, then give an alphabetical list of towns? Easy to understand and printable. You CANNOT print the existing method unless you do each entry separately. This is a nightmare if you are trying to access the site by mobile phone at say 19.2 Kbs! Another problem is it is out of date in many areas as they have service, but it is not shown. Now before we start getting besieged with emails from aerial technicians our comments on aerials apply to perfect weather days. A good aerial can come into its own on rainy/stormy days and can stop drop outs.


Excellent ABC Digital Pages
The screen shot above was taken from the ABC Online page and this page shows frequency, polarisation, and most importantly signal coverage. Orange means strong signal and medium blue indicates acceptable picture. This is great if you are an ABC fan, but be aware that not all regional areas have maps as the ABC issues licenses to rebroadcast in some areas known as the Self Help Broadcasting Reception Scheme (SBRS). There is a very good explanation of digital TV (very new!!) on this ABC page. These pages are beautifully presented and very The ABC leads the way in providing extra services. Take a quick look at this beautifully laid out page. It shows what's on ABC analogue and the new ABC 2 Digital would you believe for a whole month (try doing this for say Channel 7 - it's a disaster!). ABC2 is the ABC's new digital-only, free-to-air TV channel. ABC2 features a broad range of new and time-shifted ABC programming - children's, regional, arts, public policy, social commentary, international news, music and information. It’s a complementary service offering another chance to see the program you missed on the main channel, or would like to watch again. For instance on Sundays they screen the Stateline programme for each state in turn. This is excellent for RVers on the road outside their home state as it lets them see what the main issues are at "home". This starts around 4.00PM and goes through till 8.00PM. Childrens programs are aired from 10.00AM until 3.00PM. It is on air from 6.00AM til a bit after midnight.



On Screen and Extra Information
The photo above left shows the Radio Screen. Currently playing was SBS Radio 2. Note the signal strength at 98%. In the bush at Shepparton it was only 52%, yet the radio was crystal clear as were the TV pictures. Yes, we did get the occasional drop out caused by foliage movement in high winds, but this was very acceptable considering the deep forest location. The photo above right shows all the TV stations currently available in Taree NSW. Note that two are High Definition. As you scroll through the channels using the cursor keys on the remote you get the current and next program brief descriptions. Now this gets expanded even further. Another wonderful idea is you can press the "info" button and it tells you the station you are watching and gives you a fairly detailed description of the current program. Another very useful feature on this same page is the "next" button. This gives info on the next program coming up. You also get signal strength info. We can see TV guides eventually disappearing off the face of the earth saving zillions of trees!



The photo shown down below a bit of channel 2 using a Winegard, at EXACTLY the same location as the left photo taken in a forest campsite outside Shepparton in Victoria, graphically illustrates exactly what a set top box can achieve in real world motorhoming conditions. This picture is absolutely putrid, and only total devotees of The Bill could stand to watch it! Digital NEVER gives ghosting - it either works or you get zilch! Lots of exact info on where you can receive digital and tons of other background info is on this excellent page. We are totally stoked on this technology and can only wonder why we didn't go down this path sooner, as it will be compulsory by 2006, which is not that far away either! The photo above right of Big Bird on ABC 2, was taken IN THE VERY HILLY BUSH at Hannan Vale NSW - like zero CDMA phone reception, yet we got 98% signal strength for digital TV. Amazing stuff! The photo to the left of it shows the "Info" screen for the same channel. Notice that the description given is far more detailed than any TV guide. Handy if you are trying to filter out "nasties" that kiddies best not watch. The photo of the lass in the photo below is to illustrate that you DON'T even need to rotate the aerial anymore.

Do You Need a Special Aerial?
Vertical polarisation doesn't seem to have any effect in very strong signal areas. (Winegard owners all know that these are a disaster case on vertical polarisation). The picture "freezes" in low signal areas (under 60%). Yes, we have tried the radio on the move and it does work (aerial down of course). You do get digital "clipping", but it is acceptable. Now in super fringe areas you do get pixilation particularly in rain (hard to photograph as it only happens for milliseconds). Overall though, there is absolutely no comparison with analogue - it is truly light years ahead in picture and sound quality. You see the quality is always the same - a perfect picture. This of course can cause lots of discontent in your household when you can only receive a putrid analogue picture - you know those lovely pure snow pictures with zero colour! When you scan the channels available, if digital is there, generally high definition is also available. Please remember that you need a special TV for this. We have had a look at it, but can't see the advantages for motorhomers just yet because of the huge cost and of course extra "knock-off-ability" of such a gadget at this point in time.

Which is the Best Picture - Left or Right?????



Please note that high definition boxes cost about $300 extra, but you do get more and in many you can record to a hard drive. You CANNOT use a HD box with a normal TV. The take up of HD has been very slow in Australia. Also note that the "extra" service channels such as Expo, Macquarrie Bank etc. are NOT available in most country areas just yet. Similarly the SBS and ABC radio channels are all available, but things like the Parliamentary channels aren't just yet. We used an NEC and an LG standard LCD TV for all the shots here. They are all ordinary digital photos, so you can believe what you see as we don't retouch in anyway whatsoever. We also tried the "box" on a Toshiba CRT normal TV (courtesy of Ronnie Penfold). It worked fine, but you cannot photograph CRT tubes. Now look folks - the first time you try to use one you could get totally stressed, particularly when you look at the diagram for doing a DVD/VCR as well - more wires than an octopus has legs! Please persevere, and we suggest that you write down and laminate your own set of tuning instructions. The "box" needs to be mounted where the remote control can see it. In our case we watch from right down the back and right up the front. We found that the Dick Smith remote signals bounced around enough to work OK. This meant that the box could be mounted simply facing the front. (it really is quite small as well - TEAC have an even smaller model, but we don't trust the brand).

Wiring Up the Dick Smith With Video/DVD
We teamed ours up with a Samsung DVD/Video - fairly run of the mill. Now the sketch in the Dick Smith manual on page 12 is an absolute "octupus"! We found that all you have to do to be able to watch TV through the tele (analogue or digital), record analogue or digital on the VCR is to buy one extra fly lead and one AV lead (3 RCA plugs each end). Leave your AV leads going to the TV from the VCR. Run the new AV leads from the set top box to Audio/Video in on your VCR (often called line input). So from your aerial you put your existing fly lead into the left most TV port on the DSE (TV/Aerial). Run a fly lead from the second from the left port (TV/VCR) to the RF input on your VCR. This setup has one tiny drawback (ONLY in areas where it is still a mix of analogue and digital) in that you cannot record digital and watch digital on another channel on the TV simultaneously. In places where all stations are digital this problem doesn't exist if you have a digital recorder (PDV). These problems are the reason for the new PDR's. (Personal Digital Recorders with built in STB) These often have two tuners and a hard drive. Best to wait a little while purchasing wise though, until this market sorts itself out.

Using Analogue and Digital at the Same Place
Until at least the end of 2006 RV'ers will often be faced with the problem of having some digital and some analogue stations in some towns. In these cases there are several solutions. Just watch digital or just watch analogue. If you wish to watch both please note that the digital box DOES NOT tune analogue stations. When you tune the STB it only tunes the digital radio/TV (a very common misconception). To tune analogue simply tune your TV as normal. If you have a VCR you will have to tune it also if you want to watch one channel and record another.



The Next Step Up - One With a Hard Drive - DigiCrystal PDR
There is an Australian Company - DigiCrystal making a set top box with an 80 gigabyte hard drive built in. These have a Phillips tuner and are assembled in Australia. They have time shift. You can start watching a movie from the beginning whilst it records the end! This gadget definitely fits in with the RV lifestyle as you can record up to 28 hours with no disks or cassette tapes needed. There are so good user reviews on these pages. The only thing we can't find out is just how the hard drives will stand up to corrugated roads. The street price hoovers around $299.00 with one chap finding one on Ebay for $200.00. The manual is "difficult"!!!! There are other choices from the majors such as Panasonic, but these are around the $600.00 mark.

Summing Up!
So do you really need it? Well, we sincerely hope that this article has convinced you that it really fits in well with the roving RV lifestyle, as it ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY gives you a much better quality picture at very little extra expense. You may as well buy it sooner rather than later!


UPDATE 16/5/05

Peter, the antenna tech used by Dryden Trailers rang us to advise that for those requiring 12 volt digital set top boxes, Clive Peters currently have the RCA brand at $129.00. This unit uses a 240 volt plug pak into 12 volt for those without an inverter. Best of both worlds - use it at home or in your caravan/motorhome.


UPDATE 17/5/05

We have been advised that yes YOU DO need to be able to upgrade the software inside the box. Recently some Thomson units were "freezing" on channel 9. A dowloadable software upgrade fixed the problem. Since release Thomson have had two software upgrades. (DTI 500 AU - a lovely half moon shaped device!) We believe though, that this is pretty rare. You can by the way "freeze" any picture on any channel. Why on earth you would need this escapes us! Sports freaks maybe??


UPDATE 18/5/05

We have had two emails about a basic unit sold by Woolies/Safeways - the Kross - $79.00. (TSK - 530STB) This could be ideal for kid's bedrooms etc. A very small unit around the size of an ADSL modem. S video and composite output. Has three inbuilt games! Uses a 12 volt plug pack and draws 20 watts and 5 watts on standby. Oddly it only goes to UHF 67. Coles sell a similar unit called the Muller. NOTE: These units could be headache producing, as a quick scan of the boards throws up a heck of a lot of moans, with the biggest one being no auto channel allocation - you get what you pay for! (but sometimes you can pay extra for something you don't need!) Now you wont find Kross in Google, but they are imported by an Australian company called Tin Shed.


UPDATE 23/5/05

Humax SD-STB Model F2-1010T
Helped a guy today with a Humus digital set set box - having lots of problems - mainly tuning. Gives a lovely picture and goes up to channel 69, BUT it is an absolute pig to tune. It does not sort the channels into say 2, 7, 9 etc. but uses the frequency slots - channel 2 is 391 with ABC2 being 392. There is the option to store these as "favourites", but again this is another non-intuitive nightmare using a mixture of alpha/numerical. You access this via the "green" button! The work around is to press the electronic programme guide - this shows the actual slot each channel is located in. Our suggestion unless you love learning complicated devices, is to cross this one off your shopping list regardless of the tempting price - retails from $173.00 to $192.00. When tuning the clock indicating progress never goes away even when finished. The remote only works when pointed straight at the unit - hopeless for normal RV use if you watch from the front and the back of the RV as the infra red just wont bounce.



The website claims it has logical channel numbering? You can download the hard to read/understand manual. It will work from 12 volt DC. It does have a couple of Pacman style games to amuse younger grand children! With checked out eight Australian suppliers and none carried reviews on this product. A very irritating feature is it requires a 4 digit pin number each time you switch on. Of course the problem mentioned here could be addressed in future software upgrades, so it pays to check the website every now and again. We couldn't find the download page. We fiddled with this unit for a couple of hours without a lot of joy. You would definitely have to bury yourself in the manual! Not really "geriatric" territory. Rather oddly a couple of users liked the funny list of channels? Humax also have a low cost PVR (personal video recorder) SDPVRA 8000. This allows time shifting and gives 40 hours of recording time.



UPDATE 26/5/05

Graphic Example of the Power of Digital
This is truly fascinating stuff. The photo below left of ABC Kids program, was taken at Casino Village (May 2005) using a Winegard aerial, using the DSE digital set top box WITH WINEGARD BOOSTER OFF. The photo below right taken 30 seconds later of the same TV/same station using its analogue tuner, again with the booster off. We feel it is an amazing demonstration of just what can be achieved using digital. Of course with the booster on you get a good picture on the analogue. These pictures have not been retouched in any way, other than reducing the size for faster web use. (to reduce download time)


Analogue signal with ZERO booster

UPDATE 11/6/05

Strong Set Top Box - Vertical Polarisation
At the volunteers weekend for the CMCA Maryborough Rally we came across a Strong STB. ($215.00) This just would not work with a Winegard aerial. Maryborough Queensland is a vertical polarisation area. The Dick Smith was only marginal in this location, but it did work.


UPDATE 27/6/05

Price Reduced on Dick Smith G7659
Well it had to happen due to huge demand. This most popular box will sell at $118.00 from 1/7/06. We still feel that this is the best STB for caravan and motorhome use.

UPDATE 28/6/05

Dick Smith G1955
These are now back on the shelves at a new low price effective 1/7/06 of $92.00. We have tested one extensively and have concluded, that whilst they will work satisfactorily in the home environment with a VERY strong signal, they are just not sensitive enough for the rigours of RV use - even rain slows it right down. The software looks very nice onscreen. The unit is a re-badged TEAC - not one of our favourite brands by a long shot. We DO NOT RECOMMEND this product for mobile use.

UPDATE 29/6/05

Dick Smith G7659
These now come with batteries for the remote and a three lead RCA cable is included. Some readers have reported that this isn't supplied. Best to have a look whilst still in the shop.



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