In light of the news that 98% of the population would be able to receive free satellite through the new Freesat service released today, we thought it may be prudent to look at the equipment that was immediately available. Unfortunately, there is only a handful of manufacturers making equipment at the moment but Freesat does run on open standards so other manufacturers are likely to join in the party once they’ve seen how successful the launch actually is.
The Standard Definition Freesat box offers an affordable way to receive all the standard definition channels. Bush, Grundig, Goodmans, and Humix all manufacture these as well as the High Definition boxes. Prices range from about £50 upwards.
If you want to watch High Definition channels through Freesat on your new Plasma or LCD TV then you will need an HD box. Humix is also promising the release of an HD box that incorporates the functions of a PVR so you can record, pause, and rewind live TV.
Panasonic are in the process of developing and launching High Definition TVs with built in Freesat receivers. While you will still need a satellite dish to receive the channels, this presents a good opportunity to buy a new HD TV with a good freeview package that is due to expand and include a lot more channels in the very near future.
In my opinion, it’s a fairly major mistake that no PVR option will be available at launch. However, if you just want a good freeview type offering and aren’t concerned with recording or any of the other features offered with a PVR then Freesat looks to be a superb option. The boxes are all relatively similar and you may want to wait until Panasonic release their impressive looking range of Freesat TVs.