What is MPEG-4 for?


Our new 232-ATSC 4, our 4th generation HDTV Tuner, can now tune MPEG-4 channels as well standard MPEG-2 channels. Interesting, but what does that really mean?

The programs carried by off-air and cable TV channels are based on MPEG-2 format video streams. All U.S. TV and HD tuners have compatible MPEG-2 decoders that can display the programs.

Several years ago, DirecTV and Dish switched to MPEG-4. As MPEG-4 is more efficient, this allowed the satellite providers to carry more HD channels. This is fine for the satellite recievers, as they were upgraded to decode MPEG-4.

Both DirecTV and Dish have technology that can re-broadcast the channels as HD cable channels. The drawback is that the system does not convert the MPEG-4 programs to MPEG-2, so most TVs and tuners can’t play the media. There are a few Smart TVs that can pick up the MPEG-4 programs from the RF cable channels, but that ability varies widely between TV makes and models.

We’ve added MPEG-4 to our new 232-ATSC 4 so it’s now compatible with sites that use DirectTV and Dish technology.

Q and A

Does this mean the ATSC 4 can directly tune satellite TV?

No, the channels right off the dish are not standard QAM channels, and they are encrypted. We can tune the channels after they have been decrypted and converted to QAM channels.

Can a firmware update add the MPEG-4 capability to older ATSC tuners ?

No, it’s a hardware technology that’s only in the 232-ATSC 4.