UK TV, Freeview, Freesat, different systems & receivers explained

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20 Nov 2009 00:00 by televisiontechnology Star rating in Costa Blanca South. 165 posts Send private message

Having received a few phone calls from people who purchased a 'Freeview' receiver, only to find out it would not work in Spain;


UK based terrestrial aerial system - Boxes such as the Humax Freeview are not the same as Humax Freesat. Freeview receivers are slightly cheaper - but more to the point do not work in Spain , as they require a terrestrial (UK) aerial not a satellite dish. For Spain Free to Air & Freesat


Offering a similar style programming guide to a Sky+ box - but without the need to subscribe to Sky for box functionality (so FTA). Useful if you have a recording box, so you can look at what programs are on in a few days time - then easily schedule recording. Non recording Freesat boxes are not as useful as knowing whats on in a few days time without being able to record it - is not so useful. Well specified recording Freesat receivers are not cheap as the equivalent non Freesat receivers.

Freesat / FTA - Whats the differences / benefits?

They are both Free to Air - Freesat is a branded name which allows licensed manufacturers to have the 8 day epg, along with a selection of UK programming.

Non Freesat but Free to air satellite boxes pick up the same channels as a Freesat box as well as all other FTA channels which are not listed on Freesats program guide.

Freesat - Good 8 day program guide, simple to use, good if you want to record (need box with hard drive - expensive)

FTA or standard satellite receiver - Picks up all free to air programming content, over 50 channels more than the Freesat box (though most are fringe channels), receivers are generally cheaper.

To add confusion some Freesat boxes also have the option of a non Freesat mode to manually scan in the other FTA channels - though these are not on Freesats main epg. You can also not alter the layout format of channel order in most Freesat receivers. Generic receivers (not Sky) will allow you to rearrange channel list order to suit you particualr viewing preferences.

What is the better system?

If you require a system for scheduled recording & simplicity and are not bothered about picking up every FTA channel from Astra - then Freesat - the only other option to have this type of system is in the Sky+ subscription receiver / service.

If you want as many channels as possible and a less costly receiver, then a generic satellite receiver will pick up all the Freesat & FTA channels - but will only allow you to see a few hours ahead on the programming guide (with the exception of Sky boxes). Certain Freesat boxes will not allow the receotion of TT on 4 (live channel 4 & Sky News.

Other recording options & HD

Whilst the Freesat PVR's do offer a good system, they are not without fault - one being the FTA channels they do not list and secondly cost - a twin tuner HD PVR €350 - €400, which is a fair step up from a reasonable basic satellite receiver of €100.

Twin tuner systems require a dual input, so if you only have one connection to a current receiver, you will need another connection for this type of system.

Currently whilst you can get reasonable HD content on Sky - this does mean paying considerable subscription fees. On Freesat / FTA there are currently only 2 channels BBC HD & ITV HD - this will change in the future, but for now - a little lacking.

The cheapest way to have a satellite receiver that allows recording (without resorting to going back to use your old video recorder) - is to get a USB PVR model. These receivers will allow the addition of a stand alone computer hard drive or USB memory stick to be added, allowing recording via internal timer. Prices of these start from €100 (standard definition) or around €200 for HD version - still considerably cheaper than the top of the range Freesat receiver.

Ultimately no one system is better than the other, it is purely down to the end users viewing habits. If your priority is price, system flexibility and receiving as many FTA channels as possible - then a standard satellite receiver will be more than adequate. If just the main terrestrial channels and you record a lot - then a Freesat recording box ( if budget allows) or if you are prepared to pay for subscriptions - then Sky+ or Sky+ HD box.


This message was last edited by televisiontechnology on 20/11/2009.

This message was last edited by televisiontechnology on 20/11/2009.

_______________________ - Satellite TV, network telecomms, IPTV & community support.

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