Hi Jon, I am about to buy a new TV and was advised that the best option would be to get Freeview or Freesat... Iím a bit green about this, can you please tell me how they both work, which is better and where I can get them from? Also how much will they cost?
Avis Cowell, via email on 12 November, 2009
Dear Avis, when the analogue signal is switched off in your area, youíll be unable to watch TV unless you switch to digital. You can choose to subscribe to a service like Sky or Virgin Media, but you will have to pay a monthly fee for these, but they do have a large range of channels and other features.
The cheapest way of switching to digital is by getting a free-to-view digital service, such as Freeview or Freesat, which donít have a subscription and only charge a one-off fee for the hardware. But which should you choose?
Well, this depends on a number of things, such as the channels you want to watch, where you live and how you want to receive your TV service. Below is some useful information to help you decide which supplier would suit youÖ
How much TV you watch, the kinds of programmes you watch and the channels you want will all help determine which provider would be best for your home.
In terms of channels, Freesat offers about 120 while Freeview only offers around 50. However, some of the more popular channels that Freeview offers, like Sky Sports News, Dave and Virgin1, are not available on Freesat. The table below shows what channels are on offer:
|Programme genre||Available channels|
|Entertainment||BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, ITV1, ITV2, ITV2+1, ITV3, ITV4, 4, 4+1, E4, E4+1, More4, Channel 5, Channel 5 USA, Fiver, Sky3, Dave, Dave ja vu, Virgin1, Virgin1+1, Quest, Yesterday,||BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, BBC HD, ITV1, ITV2, ITV2+1, ITV3, ITV3+1, ITV4, ITV4+1, ITV HD, 4, 4+1, E4, E4+1, More4, More4+1, Channel 5,|
|News||BBC News, BBC Parliament, Sky News, CNN,||BBC News, BBC Parliament, France24, Euronews, Bloomberg, CNN,|
|Sports||Sky Sports News,||Talksport,|
|Childrenís||CBBC, CBeebies, CiTV,||CBBC, CBeebies, CiTV, Pop, Pop Girl, Tiny Pop, Kix!|
|Films||Film4,||Film4, Film4+1, Movies for Men, Movies for Men2, True Movies, True Movies2,|
Both services also offer a range of shopping, music and radio channels, in addition.
Freeview and Freesat arenít available to every household. Freeview can currently be watched by around 70% of Britain, while Freesat is available to about 98%. Each service has different requirements:
There are various types of digital receiver available, including high-definition (HD) set-top boxes, digital recorders (PVRs) and integrated TVs (iDTVs). These differ in price and functionality, so make sure you compare prices and find that one that suits you.
When it comes to choosing a digital TV service, cost plays a very important part for most people. Freeview and Freesat, are subscription-free services, so youíll just have to pay a one-off payment for the receiver (either a digibox or digital TV) - there are no monthly bills or extra charges to worry about.
The price of the digital receivers for each service does vary though. Hereís a breakdown of the costs:
|Type of digital receiver||Cost|
|Standard digital set-top box||Prices start from £20||Prices start from £50|
|HD digital set-top box||Not available||Prices start from £70|
|Standard digital recorder||Prices start from £80||Not available|
|HD digital recorder||Not available||Prices start from £250|
|Integrated TV (iDTV)||Priced from £100 to £3,500||Priced from £500 to £3,000|
When choosing a service for your home, you need to consider all of the factors mentioned above. If you arenít really fussed about the channels and tend to only watch the terrestrial BBC1, BBC2, ITV, 4 and Channel 5, then Freeview is probably the better option.
However, if your area canít get Freeview yet, or the signal is very poor, you should consider Freesatís satellite TV service. Remember though, you have to have a satellite dish (around £80 including installation) to receive the signal.
You should also look at other providers, such as Virgin Media, Sky and Tiscali TV as you may be able to bundle your digital TV, home phone and broadband services. This will save you money, will reduce the number of bills you have to pay and will give you more channels.
I hope this gives you a bit more information and helps you decide between Freeview and Freesat Avis. If you want to find out more about the services, please visit these websites:
If you have a general switching or provider query please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org