Since the introduction of the black and white cathode ray television sets [CRT], later followed by colour displays, television has progressed so much that today a variety of technologies are available such as LCD, LED, OLED, 3D, Plasma, etc.
For the past decades, the TV set has been primarily used as a receiver displaying programs of TV stations, but also for image projection and sound reproduction sourcing from other appliances [e.g. DVD, consoles, PCs]. With the adoption of new technologies however, the TV has recently gained a new property, that of a simple computer for internet use.
In Greece, the colour encoding system used for the broadcast of analogue TV programs is PAL B [Phase Alternating Line B]. To date, all TV sets purchased and used throughout the country bear this format, which has obviously evolved over the years.
For digital terrestrial television however, the format differs. The broadcasting technology is DVB-T MPEG-4 or H.264 and every TV set needs to be compatible to this in order to be able to view TV digitally.
All new TV models [bought in 2010 and onwards] enclose digital decoders bearing this technology and thus meet the requirements for an enjoyable TV experience.
Digital decoders [receivers]
Older TV sets purchased before 2010 usually support the previous technology, the MPEG-2, and therefore cannot “play” the modern digital signal without the use of an external decoder or a conditional-access module for its conversion.
For digital terrestrial television, the basic decoder types are Standard Definition [SD] and High Definition [HD]. If you own a typical lamp analogue TV set [CRT] or a flat screen TV [LCD/ Plasma] without an integrated MPEG-4 digital receiver [decoder] nor an HDMI port, then a simple decoder with SCART or RCA [3 colours - Yellow, White, Red] connectivity options will suffice.
If your flat screen TV does have an HDMI port but not no integrated MPEG-4 digital receiver, then prefer a decoder that supports HDMI connectivity for better picture and sound quality. You can also choose a decoder with additional functionalities such as program and scheduled program recording or program start notification so that you don’t miss on your favorite shows.
Moreover, for those of you who don’t want to occupy more space with cables and devices, decoders that connect directly on the TV set are available, as well as decoders for personal computers for those who enjoy TV viewing on their PCs.
Decoders supporting both terrestrial and satellite reception are not necessary for digital terrestrial TV, while devices that only support satellite reception will not do the job.
An alternative solution for TV sets of older technology is the use of an MPEG-4 Conditional-Access Module so long that your TV bears MPEG-2 digital reception and has a common interface type socket.
Common Interface [C.I.] is the communication interface used among various types of digital media processing and playing devices. The main operation of this interface is the access to encrypted or subscription services with the use of CAM [Conditional Access Modules] cards. CAMS allow the receiver [TV, computer, decoder, etc.] to decrypt the encoding system of subscription service cards [Conax, Irdeto, Viaccess etc.] even if the receiver does not have this system integrated. Similarly, these cards can allow TV sets with integrated MPEG-2 receivers to reproduce [play] MPEG-4 signals even from free, non-subscription channels, like the privately-owned nationwide and regional channels broadcasted from our company.
Attention! Before making a purchase, make sure that the card is compatible with your device’s model type.
Whatever you choose, keep in mind that the program of privately-owned stations is broadcasted in standard definition. A switch to high definition would drive a large part of the population to change their equipment, therefore free channels will continue to broadcast their programs in SD so that everyone has access. In other words, a simple standard definition decoder will do the job.
Finally, if you don’t want to hassle with multiple remote controls, a great solution is a universal remote which gathers functions and can be used for all devices.
You can find more information regarding the DVB-T MPEG-4 format in subsection "Technology".