You will get plenty of notice before services in your area are affected and plenty of advice on what to do through various media - but you could start thinking about your digital TV options today.
How much will it cost?
Going digital can be simple and inexpensive. Most households have a choice of options and can weigh up the services they want against what they want to spend.
Most existing TV sets can be adapted with a digital box, with basic digital boxes starting at around £40. Contact your local electrical goods shop or TV rental company for more information on products available and how to connect them. Alternatively you can replace your old TV with one that has a decoder built into it, known as an integrated digital TV set or iDTV.
Between two and ten per cent of households are likely to need a new aerial. Again, there are a large variety of available options.
Will switching to digital affect TV licences?
If you need a TV licence today, you will still need one after digital switchover. The cost is the same and you don't need a separate licence to watch digital television.
More questions answered
What happens to old television sets?
Contact your local council or Recyclenow to find out about recycling any television sets you don't want, or think about other places where it might be needed, like a local schools technology department. You could give working sets that are suitable for digital conversion to charity. If your television doesn't work any more and you want it to be disposed of by your local council, contact them to pick it up from your door as part of their bulky waste collection service.
Will video recorders still work with digital TV signals?
You will be able to use your current video recorder unless you want to watch one programme while recording another. Then you will need to get a digital recorder.
The range of digital recorders (often called 'Personal Video Recorders' or PVRs) is expanding all the time ask you local retailer for more information.
If you have more than one TV in the house will they all need to be converted for digital?
Every TV set in your home that you want to use to watch TV broadcasts can receive digital TV. Any TV set that you use only to play back videotapes or DVDs, or with a games console, will not need to be converted.
Okay, so there’s nothing especially new about Video On Demand (VOD) but the big players in TV are certain that 2011 will be the year it becomes big news.
Both Sky and Virgin Media have just realised new boxes that place a greater emphasis on Video On Demand than ever before. First off is a subtle change of name. Less often referred to as Video On Demand, these days the service providers prefer to talk about, ‘connected TV’. Either way, what’s on offer isn’t really new in any respect. Connected TV means watching internet TV channels on your TV - with the BBC iPlayer proving exceptionally popular - and watching a wider range of paid for movies on demand than before. In short, it’s not so much about new technology as bringing everything together in one, thus edging out the need for us to watch Internet TV on a home PC or renting films on DVD or Blu-ray.
As mentioned, Sky and Virgin Media are going to be big on Connected TV in 2011 but it won’t come cheap. Virgin require around £200 for the hardware and a further £26.50 per month for its, admittedly impressive, TiVo powered XL service. Sky Anytime + doesn’t cost any extra per month but downloading films does come off Sky Broadband monthly allowance meaning that, in effect, Sky Broadband Unlimited is essential at an additional £7.50 per month; plus, of course, your usual Sky TV costs.
If you like the idea of connected TV but don’t fancy paying a monthly tariff and aren’t bothered about paying for video on demand (which most of us aren’t) then it’s well worth investigating what Humax will have to offer. Already market leaders in both freesat HD, Freeview HD receivers and PVRs, Humax reckon to be launching connected TV systems in January 2011. This will allow some of their existing and new set-top boxes to stream catch-up services such as iPlayer, Sky TV, YouTube and more. Later in the year they hope to add further applications such as Twitter and Facebook, meaning that you can stay connected without having to switch between TV and PC or mobile. Furthermore, some of their boxes will be also be able to stream, via DLNA, content from your home PC or NAS drive - using your home network.
Whether you choose Virgin Media, Sky or free access TV from Humax, one thing’s for sure: the chances are that your PC will spend more time switched off in 2011!