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Prepare for digital TV

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The switch over to digital TV has been in the pipeline for nearly a decade and many viewers are still in the dark as to what they need to prepare themselves for the change. MUZI MAKHAYE, CEO of ABT Africa sheds some light on the benefits of digital TV

The switchover from analogue to digital television has been in the pipeline for nearly a decade but, as the ITU deadline draws nearer, many viewers are still unsure about why migration is happening, what they will need to do in order to receive the digital signal on their existing television sets and what the benefits of digital television will be for them as consumers.

ABT Africa, one of the providers of the set-top boxes that will be required for viewers to receive the new digital signal on their existing TV sets, is committed to providing more than just the necessary technology. It is also committed to informing viewers about the switchover process so they can enjoy uninterrupted television viewing.

Communication about the switch to digital has been patchy and, as a result, many viewers are still uncertain about how this process will affect them.

Our objective as we move closer to the switchover date is threefold. Firstly, we will provide the very best, high-quality digital terrestrial transmission or DTT set-top boxes that will be needed in order to receive digital signal for existing television sets. We will also ensure that stocks of these STBs are available at all of the necessary points during the roll-out, and will provide post-sales support for customers through a national DTT call centre. Finally, through our communications, we will keep viewers fully informed about the roll-out process.

One of the questions most frequently asked about the change to digital broadcast is why is it necessary. The answer is that the new technology will bring many benefits to viewers across all LSMs, the broadcasters and government.

To start with, the digital television signal will provide viewers with CD-quality audio and crystal-clear picture quality, which will make an immediate difference to their viewing experience. It will avail an increased number of channels, offer greater broadcasting flexibility, and enable more free-to-air operators to enter the broadcast market.

The DTT technology also has the capability to deliver information services directly to the user’s TV. For example, local government could, through an e-government services network, notify targeted households about such issues as planned water and or electricity disruptions at specific times.

While these benefits may seem clear, consumers are still uncertain about whether everyone will need a set-top box and, if so, what the cost of these STBs will be.

Everyone with an existing television set that is not digitally enabled will need an STB. This includes owners of wide-screen or plasma TV sets that aren’t enabled to receive a digital signal as in the iDTVs, for instance.

Similarly, DSTV subscribers will need a DTT set-top box (MNet) if they would like to receive the full bouquet of free-to-air television channels. This is because the satellite technology used by DSTV and the digital terrestrial technology that will be used in broadcast television are incompatible and they offer different broadcast services. More importantly, DTT will be a non-subscription service as opposed to the subscription-based DSTV service.

As for cost, government has recently announced that recipients of social grants will qualify for a 100% subsidy when acquiring an STB, although this benefit will be limited to one set-top box per household. Retail prices have not yet been set, and will depend not only on government guidelines, but also on the model of set-top box the consumer chooses.

ABT will be offering two models, an entry-level model called the ABT Zapper and a top model that offers more features and benefits, such as access to the internet, which is called the ABT Zapper Plus. Both are equipped with advanced security features which will enable them to be deactivated should they be stolen. A PVR-enabling dongle, which will be sold separately, will enable recording, rewinding and fast-forwarding applications to users of both models.

As the switchover to digital will be rolled out progressively, ABT will track the roll-out schedule once it has been announced and will ensure that STBs are available in retail stores in the designated areas.

The change to digital will offer an entirely new viewing experience, and ABT is fully prepared to make the switchover an easy and trouble-free experience for our customers.

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Future of TV in 4 letters

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Television technology has come a long way, transforming not just the way we consume our entertainment, but also the formats in which media is broadcasted or streamed. Today, TVs can do a lot more than just display our favourite shows, says DEAN DAFFUE, GTM manager at LG Electronics SA.

Today, consumers demand TVs that are not just slim, but so thin that they are like paintings on walls. TVs have become an element of décor that can seamlessly integrate into the design of a home, and render the clearest, sharpest images, with the deepest blacks and crispest whites without compromising on resolution. Home cinema is not just about the picture anymore. Consumers are eyeing TVs that would be able to learn usage patterns and automatically suggest entertainment based on individual preferences. The switch from LCD to LED transformed TV design, allowing for lighter, thinner and easily wall-mountable frames, housing even more sophisticated display tech. The picture quality also dramatically improved with new contrast ratios rendering more vivid colours, deeper blacks and crisper whites. But they were still more functional than aesthetic.

As larger segments of the population embraced internet connectivity and streaming content, the TV became smarter, integrating content-streaming apps for a more seamless viewing experience. As Internet Service Providers (ISPs) upgraded their infrastructures to accommodate the growth in streaming services, TV manufacturers also upgraded their TVs’ ability to tap into different types of content.

In the future, TVs with built in Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be able to learn usage patterns and automatically switch modes based on user preference, and even take instructions from multiple users as TVs become increasingly connected to digital home assistant systems.

Six years on, and we see the evolution that continues to lead in the OLED TV market, LG is racking up awards and accolades for its innovative OLED TVs. This pioneering effort in the design and manufacturing of OLED TVs has culminated in complete dominance of the OLED market, leaving the pinnacle challenge of innovation in display technology, redefining the TV viewing experience, and its place in your home. Great efforts have been made on OLED technology being affordable and accessible, allowing more people to enjoy a better-quality television experience than before. No TV is a greater testament to this than last year’s award-winning LG SIGNATURE W7 – also known as wallpaper.

As South Africans are continuously looking for ‘an experience that amazes’, OLED TVs are considered by industry experts to offer the most advanced display technology. As each pixel on the display can be individually switched on and off, OLED offers enhanced picture quality without image degradation. This results in the highest quality image rendering with the purest blacks. With its myriad advantages, OLED panels have become the most desired display technology today and it has become a leading force in making this technology even more ubiquitous and accessible.

With support for both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, LG OLED TV is the first of its kind to offer a premium cinema experience in the comfort of your home. It also features Active HDR technology, which optimises HDR picture quality scene-by-scene, rendering brighter scenes and greater shadow detail for a life-like viewing experience.

Despite the market dominance, the development of newer, more innovative technologies does not stop. This year a staggering number of innovative display technologies were unveiled, such as future display technology like roll-able OLED screens and large format curved displays that will become the future of wall art.

AI is also set to make an appearance. There is a unique and personalised AI services built on the deep learning-based DeepThinQ technology, in cooperation with other AI service providers such as Google, giving AI TVs the ability to automatically adjust the settings to Game Mode, or Sports Mode based on whether a user is currently playing Xbox or watching a football match. Ultimately, AI TV will provide care and comfort to users’ mind and body by learning more about its users’ viewing habits.

What does this all mean for consumers? With continued innovation and development of display technologies, as well as advanced design, AI, premium audio integration and support for the latest resolutions, colour and High Dynamic Range (HDR) standards, the TV will no longer be a display, but a complete home viewing experience. This is what new ranges of OLED TVs will bring to fruition in the coming months, making it the ideal time to upgrade your TV to the ultimate home entertainment experience.

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Game of screens

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When it comes to the ultimate home entertainment experience, what you watch is just as important as how you watch it. With streaming services like Netflix keeping people glued to their screens people are paying a lot more attention to the overall home viewing experience.

Flat panel TV screens have long been favoured as the most cost-efficient and appropriate option for everyday home entertainment. However, more and more people are investing in projectors and fully kitted-out home theatre systems to enhance the experience, as proven by the 28% global market growth of home-used projectors over the past five years. However, choosing between the myriad of options on the market today can be challenging.

Money matters

When it comes to affordability, TVs are certainly becoming more accessible than ever. Where plasma screens were once the talk of the town, and features like HD quality and larger screen size only added more zeroes to the price, today’s LED and OLED models are far more accessible and affordable for everyone – despite offering even more technologically advanced features, which is the biggest reason why people generally opt for TVs.

However, projectors have become more affordable too, and are just as easy to use. The cutting-edge models available now are a far cry from the clunky ones with poor display quality of the previous tech era. For instance, the full HD Epson TW-600 series offers everything you would expect from high-end projectors – three-times brighter, crystal clear display thanks to 3LCD technology, built-in Wi-Fi, 11 years of lamp life and a great warranty offer – at a much more attractive price point compared to other projectors on the market. Unlike TVs, however, the projectors offer an immersive, real-life experience that TVs simply can’t match.

Screen size and quality

While the cost is almost always the first factor that people consider when purchasing a home entertainment system, factors like quality and screen size are often a close second and third.

On the one hand, LED TVs are great all-rounders for sport, movies, normal TV and gaming, and offer pretty much all the average person needs in terms of a home viewing experience that ranges from adequate to impressive. There are a variety of LED TV models currently on the market that offer great resolutions and good contrast ratios, but TV screens are still limited in terms of size, which impacts the overall viewing experience.

Projectors offer all the benefits of an LED TV with the added benefit of a huge, movie-theatre like screen to enjoy in the comfort of your home. Projectors are also capable of projecting high definition content onto a surface of anywhere from 30 inches right up to 300 inches, allowing you to choose your screen size depending on your requirements.

In terms of quality, 3LCD technology, as offered by world-leading technology brand Epson, is the most popular projector technology available on the market making up more than 69% of all projectors sold worldwide. This technology offers a clearer, crisper image, showing more detail while allowing for smoother motion on-screen and more vibrant, differentiated colours.

Choosing the best screen option for your dream home theatre setup is a decision that’s best made after careful consideration of the options that are currently available. And while the average flat panel TV screen display has certainly improved over the years in terms of technology and affordability, projection technology is cutting edge, and these nifty devices are now more accessible and desirable than ever.

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