So here we are in June 2016 and past the big shift to HD in French broadcasting. BIS, Fransat and TNT now have a full line up of all the main channels , in HD quality.
There was a lot of on screen messages shown to warn viewers , but still many didn’t get the importance of it all, until the big “switch off” was upon us, on 25th May and they were left with blank screens. Some HD receivers ran out of stock but not many, all in all a pretty smooth operation. BIS were the last to go through these changes, giving their subscribers time to buy CAMS capable of the new “viaccess secure” encryption. At least it was done in stages, with just a couple of channels going for the new standard first, then everyone could see whether the change would affect them ( with the older receivers and cams ) and then changing all BIS channels over to the new system.
The prices for Fransat HD receivers in particular had come down to very manageable amounts by the time the changeover was about to happen. Strong in particular, a very popular brand, making both TNT and Fransat HD models were available at a good price. All new HD receivers for TNT and Fransat from me are supplied with a new card by the way, don’t try to use your old card! Similarly avoid buying on Amazon . fr unless you know for sure that it comes with a card, some don’t and you will quickly find that Fransat cards are not available for sale anywhere.
One major advantage of the HD mpeg4 format is the ease of making recordings, all products now have the USB socket, almost all PC type USB powered “ portable” style drives can be used to make recordings, by nothing more than plugging in a USB drive. Some TNT boxes I have noted, require that the format is changed, the old FAT32 format is still the de facto standard, with all French boxes, so if your drive came with a more recent file structure on it, like NTFS, be prepared to have to reformat. On most receivers however this is now trivial, there will be a formatting procedure somewhere in the menu. On older boxes, you had to first use a PC, to change this to FAT and that was not easy as PCs have long since abandoned this option. I still have a download available for anyone wanting it, on the main website. ( http://satellitetveurope.co.uk/HDD.html ) download the GUIFormat.exe file.
As new receivers have come onto the market, the number which are net capable is increasing. Be certain that it is set up correctly though, for example the Aston Maya Fransat model will continually try to search and put up on screen any WiFi network it sees, unless it is set up from scratch ( first installation ) . This can be very annoying as it prevents you watching anything. If you do not want any of the online services, then skip this step when first setting up the box.
Overall the most noticeable thing about the latest French receivers , is the much better reliability, far fewer returns than with the older SD (standard definition) boxes. The driving force behind this is probably the Korean and Taiwanese giants who produce the major part of the entertainment electronics segment , available today. Their complete dominance of the market has driven standards up. A look at worldwide patents in electronics will quickly show how these once poor quality copycat product manufacturers have now turned the tables with innovation and top design. Have you got a Samsung phone in your pocket or an LG tv on your wall? South Korea many years ago made a mad dash for the top, by introducing a country wide 100Mbs internet system, when at the time we in England were only just seeing the change from dial up! Hey if anyone from Virgin is reading this, why is my so called 50mbs internet only capable of 1.7mbs after 4pm?
For those just receiving the free to air channels on the Atlantic bird 3 ( new name Eutelsat 5W ) satellite, there was a surprise in store. For many years, mirroring the old channel line up on the analogue transmissions, France 2,3 and 5 were free. Now, with the new HD channels, it is France 2,3 and 4 that are available free , plus one or two freebies like BFM , Dici tv, TV5 Monde , GrandLille tv, TV8Mont Blanc , KTO and Vosges and France Ô with its Caribbean programming is still there too. Why there was this changeover is not clear. France5 is available only with TNT, Fransat or Canal Plus but not with the FTA receivers. If you need to check the frequencies here is a useful link:
I have had a couple of phone calls about this. The user already has a proper HD TNT or Fransat receiver and card, but is receiving the onscreen message ” please update your receiver to an HD model, to continue viewing after the 25th April ”
This is possibly because the new receiver was installed with the SD Fransat or SD TNT bouquet of channels. If you have ever installed one, it is the very last option to choose, before it starts working properly. It is easy to overlook and there is no way to tell which bouquet has been used, after the installation is complete, as up to the 25th April, the channels worked as normal.
The solution is fairly simple, to reinstall completely. Choose “factory reset” or ” first time install” option in the SYSTEM menu ( these are fairly similar on both TNT and Fransat , throughout the different makes and models that are available. It will then show the first time installation menu, where you can choose install language, tuning……….. right through to the bouquet choice.
It looks like the software now takes care of the correct choice, I installed a Fransat box yesterday 29th April and this last choice no longer has to be made, the box automatically chose HD without any input from me
In April 2016 all TNT and Fransat broadcasts will be in MPEG4 standard . Completion date is set to 25th April, so make sure you are up to date before then.
This means you will need an HD receiver to carry on watching your TNT or Fransat channels. Those of you with my Free channel packages using the Multi lnb dishes will be unaffected.
I don’t know if my box is HD?
- If there is no HDMI tv socket on the back, it will be SD and you need a new box
- Turn to TF1 – If the TF1 logo is on the RIGHT side of the screen , it is already in HD. If not, you need to purchase a new HD box.
Will the dish need changing?
No the dish needs no attention, as long as you have a good signal ,it will work with the new HD Mpeg4 boxes.
My TV is the old “standard definition” will I be able to watch after the change over?
YES all of the HD boxes I supply have the SD scart socket as well as the new HDMI socket for the televisions
Which Channels are Affected?
All 25 National channels will change to Mpeg4 / HD
How can I order a new box?
Use the contact me form – tell me if you require TNT or Fransat and i’ll send you a list of the current best receivers and prices including postage. You can pay online. Your box will be sent out directly.
I’m not technical – How will I set up my new box?
Don’t worry, in 99% of cases, you simply switch it on and follow the on-screen prompts. For most viewers the default answer will get you back up and viewing perfectly. I will provide any help you need by email or phone.
Over the last few years , there have been a number of small but annoying little problems, easily sorted out, but when it happens, it looks like disaster.
This particular problem has come up several times: TNT box ( mainly the older standard definition types ) loses all channels and will not retune. Keeps going round the loop, apparently tuning but getting no results. There is no indication of signal, so these faults are sometimes reported as “no signal” or “dish faulty”. A quick check with a meter showed the signal was fine.
All that is required is to do a factory reset:
Remove the card
Go to main menu
Choose factory ( Usine) reset ALL
Afterwards, the box will perform its initialisation and look for software update. Ensure it completes this without any interruption, I cannot emphasise this enough, there is a risk of complete memory corruption if the update process is not completed. A box in that condition is useless, you can send it back to France for repair, but so far the procedure and the download is not available online and the cost to send away is high.
Once complete the box will tune in again and work as normal.
Tnt viewer using the Humax TN5000 box, who already have the Uk Humax Freesat box will find that both boxes are responding to the remote controls, which makes life very difficult.
Fortunately the remote control , which is exactly the same part for either box, has a trick up its sleeve! You can select different sets of codes for each box, eliminating the clash.
Heres the full procedure:
To use more than one Humax receiver in the same room you can change the remote control codes so that they don’t conflict.
Switch on your TV set and the Humax product that you want to change the remote code.
Make sure that the other Humax receiver is powered off at the plug
Press and hold the 0 and OK buttons simultaneously for about 5 seconds until the PVR button on the remote stays red.
A message will appear on the TV screen:
“You can change the remote control mode.
Press a Numeric Key (<1> ~ <6>) to select the mode
Current mode: Mode 1.”
6. Press a NUMERIC button (from 1 to 6) to select a different mode.
7. A message confirming the change of Mode will appear on screen.
Following the recent new HD additions on Fransat ( see new-fransat-channels ) TNT is adding most of the same channels RMC ,23, Cherie 25 and L’equipe 21; but the other two will be missing.
At least for the time being the channels owned by M6 and TF1 ( 6Ter and HD1) will not be joining the TNT line up. The TF1_M6 versus CanalSat fight continues…..
I will of course report when the dust settles !
Such is the march of progress…. TNT box manufacturers have decided to stop production of the SD ( Standard Definition ) TNT receivers, to concentrate on HD only.
I have noticed that all orders for the last year have been for HD boxes , in both TNT and Fransat. The trend is also towards recording boxes, or ones which have the ability to connect a recording device directly. USB discs ( the same as can be used on a PC ) , providing they are formatted correctly for the box, can be used to record programmes. Hd channels do take up quite a few hundreds of Mb for a one hour show, so make sure you have a large drive, 500Gb seems to be ideal. The SD french boxes, with one exception did not have this option fitted.
Also , new tvs of course have a multitude of HDMI inputs and very few , usually only one now, scart connections. Scart leads give the older analogue signals, but for top quality, a HDMI lead will give the best performance, being digital, it is not so easily interfered with, can transfer data at high speed and there is no compromise, as there is with composite video , this is the normal standard for video , which has been with us for the last 30+ years, since video recorders!
The only downside, in the demise of the SD box, is that many of my customers ask if the pictures can be taken to a second room , perhaps a bedroom. Unfortunately this means via aerial cable, which requires a modulator, virtually none of the HD equipment have modulators now, so there is now more expense , for an external modulator , if watching on a second set is essential. Another possibility is of course a second HD TNT box, but that will double up the price . No doubt the manufacturers have already thought of that !
I recently installed a couple of multisatellite systems, both in Peterborough within a few weeks of each other , one done with a Technomate TM5402HD receiver and the other with a Humax TN5000HD TNT Sat receiver, here is a comparison of the results and problems, which might be of help to anyone deciding which way to go.
My customers were interested in slightly different priorities of channels one Spanish and the other French, but the comparison is useful for anyone wanting French Channels.
95% of French Channels are available free, but they are spead over different satellites, so needing quite a complex array of LNBs on the dish to get the maximum range of available channels. France4 is the only major channel missing from the free range of channels. The TNT box of course will get all the major channels from the Astra satellite alone, so how good is it when setting up for German, Spanish, Italian, Greek etc as well as its native French channels?
Firstly the Humax is designed to auto set up TNT channels from Astra1 and order them in the usual TF1, France2, France3 ,…… order, but has options for many other satellites to be included in the antenna setup menu. Our installation included Thor5, Eutelsat W3, Hotbird and Astra 1 with a 4 way diseqc switch. This was very easily accommodated on the Humax menu, simply entering the appropriate number associated with the 4 LNBs.
On exit from the Humax menus, you are prompted to Confirm, this doesnt default to ‘Yes’ so be careful when finished any sorting, or tuning, that the operation is saved. The remote keys are a little quick to repeat if held down, you can easily dismiss this dialogue when hitting the exit key.
Tuning was reasonably quick on the Humax, although much slower than the Technomate HD receiver. Turning the Network search off, helped to speed up the operation. Searches could be done on the TNT channels, A single transponder or Automatically all transponders on a satellite. Strangely the TNT search was very ponderous, taking a long time and not showing any results until the very end.
As with most of my installations, I will put the main channels from each country into a different favourite group, for ease of use. The Technomate has a really easy to use grouping method, grouping can be done in any order, the lists can be shown in number or alphabetical order or CAS or transponder order. By comparison, although not too bad by many standards, the method on the Humax was a little awkward. First you create a new group and name it. Then once in list mode, you can mark required channels using the pause key, then press ‘OPT’ to save channels to your new group . Make sure you confirm on exit from this procedure.
One disappointment is that the Humax will not group channels from different satellites, so for example the Turkish channels of which one is on Astra, the rest of Eutelsat, couldnt all be put into the same group. The Technomate achieved this easily.
The Technomate 5402HD is a great value HD receiver, popular with satellite enthusiasts because of its price and facilities. Its menu system allows all the usual tuning, grouping of channels and other communications setups like the USB memory stick/HDD etc. Once you have the receiver set up as you like, the settings can be stored simply and quickly on a USB memory stick. Go to Menu/system/USB/data transfer and the channels and favourite groups are stored by pressing (red) on the remote. The opposite function, restoring channels etc. is achieved by highlighting the saved .chdf file and pressing ‘OK’ to restore it. After rebooting the operation is complete. The Technomate Software website is full of useful addons which enable more functions on the 54o2 and other models to do streaming to tv and more.
The transponders listed on several satellites on the Humax were unfortunately out of date, although the options were there to enter details and scan for channels on new transponders, this process was tedious and slow. On the Technomate, there is ‘BLIND Search’ which will tune any new transponders quickly and automatically. I wish manufacturers would include the facilities to save settings via USB, use a channel editor to include quickly any missing / changed transponders and create a backup file, which can be quickly restored , should the worse happen! Speaking of which… during the installation, I made the mistake of entering the ‘first time’ setup menu, during tuning and ordering of channels, which wiped out all my work! So beware, there is no confirm dialogue on this menu.
The installation for French channels done on the 5402 had to include the satellites Eutelsat 5w, Hotbird, Astra1 and Eutelsat 9a, to get all the channels which are enabled simply with the viewing card on the Humax TNT box. So the Humax scores well here as the other 3 LNbs can be set up on a range of different satellites. But at nearly twice the price of the Technomate, is it really a better deal? Certainly the pictures are good on both receivers, no complaints there, each one will tune in most of the same channels , from France and elsewhere, both handling the HD channels well. My experience of the Technomates shows that the tuners are the best on the current market, several times when installing weak satellites ( Czech channels on Astra 3, Nilesat and BADR4) other receivers have shown picture break up or in one case no channels at all, the TM displaying perfect rock steady pictures. I know if I had to choose when installing for French AND say Nilesat, it would have to be the Technomate receiver.
Adding a HDD ( Hard Drive) for recording. Both receivers have USB connections for use with portable PC drives to record programmes. As long as you use the drives recommended by TM technical, no problems with recordings have ever come up. In the case of the Humax TNT box, I used my usual Western Digital HDD, a 500Gb size drive. Recordings were good, very smooth in playback. Pressing the play key, brought up the list of recordings on screen. Titles, dates and channel were all stored making selection and sorting of recordings very easy. Setting up the drive was easy and automatic, once it was prepared correctly. As with the Technomate receivers , the best method is to use my GUI software, download it here http://www.satellitetveurope.co.uk/HDD.html it certainly worked with both the installations above. Plug in your new drive to the pc or laptop USB, note the drive letter assigned to it, Download Gui software, and run it to properly prepare the HDD for the use with a satellite receiver. I found out recently that 500Gb is realistically the largest size that will work properly in the TM receivers, as the 1 TB size drives slow down the operations too much to work correctly, so best to stick to this size with the Humax as well. With the 5402 receiver dont expect to be able to record from a Guide menu, not all foreign broadcasters have the same format, or even any Guide! ( Spain ) . Germany at least on their main channels has a fully implemented 7 day Guide broadcast.
For my customers, purchasing a replacement TNT card after its 4 year period has expired just became a whole lot easier. I can now supply the replacements, at £ 25 incl all charges and postage, simply quote the serial number when emailing me to purchase it.
The new arrangement makes updating simple for customers in the Uk, previously only customers having a French address, could update online, on the TNT website.
Viewing the set top box suppliers websites it is not immediately clear how long the encryption cards supplied with TNT and FranSat boxes will last. So I took a look at the TNTsat and FranSat websites to get to the facts:
The FranSat cards do not have a limit. Simple!
The TNT cards are initially guaranteed for 4 years. The broadcaster will turn on a reminder screen about 3 months before the card expires. French residents can update their cards for 15Euro on the TNTsat.tv website , for Uk residents I can provide the update or new card for £25. Email with your current card number – firstname.lastname@example.org The new cards will be valid for a further 4 years.
The reason given for the approach that TNT have taken is that the programmes broadcasters only have rights within French territory , wheras the satellites used to broadcast the programmes, can be received throughout Europe.
At present there are free programmes on Canal +, which is normally scrambled. You can receive this with a TNT receiver
Canal Plus programs are broadcasted ‘en clair’ in the clear at the following times (GMT+1)
06:55 – 08:45.
12:30 – 13:45
18:10 – 20:50
New VisioSat TNT 7600 model
For those whose main interest is French, but would also like to view other broadcasts from continental Europe. The 7600 from Visiosat is multi satellite capable and can tune in free channels from Germany, Italy, Spain as well as France
With a dish installed with 2 LNBs , viewers in most of the Uk can now use this box for the main TNT channels. It has a standard Eutelsat DISEQC system, that we can use to make the receiver choose the correct satellite automatically when changing channel.
As well as Italian, German, Spanish, and even Russian and Polish free channels!
The TNT 7600 has a very simple to program Favourite group system, one easy way to separate channels using this , is to save by Language. There are sufficient groups to save Italian, German, Spanish, Russian, Polish and Uk channels in separate groups.
With a 2 LNB dish, you can expect over 800 free to watch channels in total, from all the countries broadcasting in Europe and the Middle East.