Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Freesat From Sky, Freeview, Freesat

It really is easy to get confused with the different digital television options of Freesat, Freeview and Freesat from Sky. All these broadcast technology options sound very similar and one could be forgiven for thinking that they were all the same thing, or at least just variations on a theme from the same company. However, they are all seperate entities and different ways of enjoying digital television, which is obviously all the more important given the UK television's digital switchover which is occurring soon.

Freesat is the digital satellite television broadcast service from the BBC and ITV, Freesat from sky is a similar satellite television broadcast service but supplied by Sky and Freeview which is also an initiative that is sponsored by the BBC is a non-satellite digital television broadcast service.

So, how can you decide which option is best for you? Well Freeview is undoubtedly one of the easiest ways of getting digital television in the UK. It uses a standard television aerial on your rooftop and a decoder box to bring you digital television. However, it doesn't support HD yet. Freesat is a great service to get if you don't get good terrestrial television reception because it uses satellite broadcasting to bring you your standard BBC television channels, plus a host of other radio and TV channels. Obviously you need a satellite dish to use Freesat for your television viewing. It already supports HD, and although you most commonly need a decoder box, you can already get televisions with Freesat built in to them. Freesat from Sky is a non-subscription based package from Sky which gives you access to a fair number of channels in the Sky lineup. Again, you are going to need a satellite dish to watch television (though Sky obviously install this for you) and you will automatically be signed up to one of Sky's basic packages after 3 months, so you need to remember to cancel the subscription if you want to carry on watching only the free offerings. Freesat from Sky also offers you HD viewing. Again with Freesat from Sky you don't need good analogue television reception because it works using a satellite dish.

So why would anyone chose Freesat over Freesat from Sky? Both need a satellite dish, and unless you already have one installed, Getting Freesat means plumping for a satellite dish and a decoder box, whereas with Sky, you simply pay for the installation and get the decoder box, satellite dish and installation. In the end, it works out to be about the same price whichever of the satellite services you go for. Many people don't want to end up on Sky's mailing list and don't want the hassle of cancelling a subscription 3 months into their viewing. And this is obviously how Sky makes their money, but if you are organised, getting freesat from Sky can be a good option. Of course, if you already have a satellite dish installed from a previous occupant or old Sky installation, you can just hook up a Freesat (from the BBC) to the dish and enjoy Freesat HD Digital television.

It can be very confusing with the three digital television options all sounding so similar, and why the BBC didn't keep sky from naming their product "Freesat From Sky", I will never know. It seems a foolish marketing step, especially as Freesat is a new service that was only launched this year and is still relatively unknown.

Monday, 22 December 2008


It has been a long time since I've updated the freesat blog. A lot has happened - freesat has added some new channels for example Simply Movies has joined the freesat lineup, as has ITV4+1. With all the television channels available, you should have no trouble finding something to watch over the Festive season. In fact, if you are struggling to find a gift for someone, why not buy them a freesat digibox?

The Metronic Freesat boxes have finally been launched and it looks like freesat is just going from strength to strength.

There are some great television shows on at the moment as well, all watchable on your freesat boxes. Heros and Survivors are currently my absolute must sees, and both of them are showing in HD if you have purchased an HD compatible freesat box and television. Something for the kids? Well the very popular In the Night Garden is also in HD. Just don't let the little ones watch too much tv :)

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Freesat Toolbar

Download our browser toolbars now - complete with BBC radio stations that you can get through freesat!

Freesat Firefox Toolbar
Freesat IE Toolbar

Thursday, 25 September 2008

12v Freesat

Can I get freesat in my motor home or caravan? All you motor homers or caravaners know that it can be a real bitch getting electronics to work in a caravan. You need devices with 12v input or an inverter. So the question is, can you get a freesat box that has a 12v input so that you can use it in your motor home or caravan and continue watching all those great freesat channels, not to mention all the other non-freesat, but free to air channels that you can pick up with a freesat box.

The simple answer is Yes, you can. There are several freesat receivers on the market at the moment that can be run off a 12v power supply. These are ideal for use in a caravan or motor home, allowing you the pleasure of watching your favourite TV show or keeping up to date on news and sport even if you are on holiday. With digital switchover just around the corner, you might want to take the opportunity to make sure you are up to date with a digital receiver. So which models can you buy that will be compatible? The Goodmans GFSAT200HD box is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a bargain because it currently has £10 off at Argos. The Bush BFSAT01HD is also a great digital box for the budget conscious. Also available at Argos, the box usually retails at around £120 and is a good entry level digital set top box.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Missing guide information on the Bush BFSAT01SD

So a funny thing happened on my Bush freesat box the other day.The programme guide kept listing “no information available” on a whole bunch of channels that were previously fine. Also, attempting to view the channels gave me the “no service available” message and a blank TV screen. Not good at all! I know we have been having bad weather and it can sometimes affect the satellite signal. And I have had the occasional no information available on a few channels before, but this usually rights itself after a few minutes or at most a few hours. But it seemed to be getting worse and worse. More and more of the listed channels were being affected. I wondered whether my father in law’s recent visit had anything to do with it…..He seemed a little at odds with how to use the freesat box, and his lust for watching the cricket on any channel that would show it led to him hitting buttons on the remote left right and centre and getting in a right state about it. Eventually I just set him up with listening to the commentary on one of the radio channels – I can’t remember which one.

Anyway so back to the lack of freesat channels. As you know, I can’t receive terrestrial television because of the rubbish reception I have in my area, so I rely on freesat exclusively for my television. I flipped through a few menus to try and see if what the signal strength was……all good there. I tried manually adding a channel, but for some reason, it wouldn’t let me. The only thing left to do (because the bush has an extremely limited menu system) was a first time install! Yikes….wipe out all my settings – so with some trepidation I selected the option, only to be prompted for a lock code! I’ve never set one up, so either my father in law had somehow managed to create a lock code, or the automatic upgrade to the software has put one in by default! A little worrying really, especially if it was simply upgraded automatically to include one – I mean that would be pretty confusing to the casual user. Anyway, I took a wild stab at an access code of 0000 for my freesat receiver , and hey presto, luckily, it worked. OK off we go with a complete fresh re-install…..or first time install. Typed in my postcode and set it off to find all its channels again. Which it duly did. And hey presto all my tv guide information is once again displaying, and all my channels are back up and running! Thank goodness for that. Even got a few new channels showing up, which weren’t there before. One of which seems to show mixed martial art all day long! Cool!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Metronic Freesat Boxes

The choice of freesat box is pretty thin on the ground at the moment. With only a few manufacturers actually producing freesat boxes, your choices are very limited indeed.
, Goodmans and Humax all produce freesat boxes, though we all know that Bush and Goodmans are basically the same manufacturer. All three produce HD freesat digiboxes, and Bush and Goodmans also have SD freesat boxes for those not bothered with HD or without a TV that can support HD. Grundig have also got an offering, and Panasonic are producing televisions that have built in freesat receivers which look very tempting indeed!

Anyway, recently, Freesat announced that they have decided to add another manufacturer into the fold. So, Metronic will be adding their version of a Freesat digibox to the fray, with the first version tipped to be released in mid October. There you have it, more choice for your freesat viewing! If you haven't bought a freesat box yet, check out the links to right to purchase one!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Adding non-Freesat services to Bush Freesat Digibox

The recent upgrade to the Bush Freesat Digibox's operating system allows the box to receive non-freesat services. This means that you can program the digibox to receive a plethora of other free-to-air television channels over and above the standard ones that the box is programmed to find. In general, free to air services include many channels that you would have received if you had installed any service from Sky. Alternatively, you could purchase third party satellite decoder digiboxes and receive the free to air channels using these boxes. Luckily the freesat boxes all have the ability to receive any television channel that is broadcast via the Eurobird satellite (at 28.5 degrees E) or the Astra 2A, 2B, 2C or 2D (28.2 degrees E).

The original release of the instruction manual doesn't show how to add the non freesat services, and it is a touch un-intuitive, so I'm going to help you out.
First, using your remote, select "Menu", choose "Settings" and then scroll down to Add Non-Freesat Services, click tho "Ok" button and then select "Manual Tune". It should look like this:Now you have a screen where you can add the non freesat services. There are three settings you need to be aware of: Frequency, Symbol Rate and LNB Polarisation. You also have signal strength and quality indicators down the bottom. Here's a screen shot:

Ok, this is a lot less complex than it looks at first. We need a good reference for the various channels that are available to us. Luckily, here it is:

Lovely. So just type in the frequency and the symbol rate listed on those pages, check the polarisation and then highlight the "Scan" field and hit the right arrow. You'll add your new channels! Wehey!

Now, how to view these channels? Well get to your "TV Listings" and then hit the "Swap" button on your remote and to air satellite channels to view on your freesat box!

Great stuff.

What's that I hear, you don't want to decipher the frequencies you need.....ok, 'cause I'm a gent, just type these in to your manual tune.....

Astra 2A/2B/2C/2D 28.2 East

FrequencySymbol RateLNB Polarisation

Eurobird 28.5 East

FrequencySymbol RateLNB Polarisation

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

1080p or 1080i Which is better?

Television buying can be a bit confusing, especially when you don't know what all those technical looking numbers mean. Sales staff are often only concerned with selling you the TV with the greatest commission so you should do you homework before you purchase your television.

In this article we are going to briefly explain what 1080p and 1080i mean when it comes to television specifications. Well, the number in 1080p and 1080i (i.e. the 1080 part) indicates the number of horizontl lines available on your television. High-definition television is either 720 or 1080. So that means your TV has either 720 lines or 1080 lines that form the picture that you actually watch. This is opposed to standard-definition television which only has 575 lines. So you can see, with High-definition, you get much more horizontal lines making up an image, giving a clearer picture.

So, what does the little "i" or "p" after our number mean? This tells us that an image is either interlaced or progressively scanned. Interlacing is basically a method of creating an image by showing it in two halves, flashed so close together that your eye cannot tell that there have been 2 images and your brain is tricked into thinking there is only one image. This technique is widely used in broadcasting because it saves bandwidth. So, the "i" obviously refer to an interlaced picture. Standard-definition is interlaced - and in fact, interlacing an image is perfect for CRT devices. With plasma screens or LCD screens, interlacing no longer works as well. The "p" refers to progressive scanning. Progressive scanning refers to the technique of drawing each line of an image in sequence.

So, which is better? 1080p or 1080i? Well, the ultimate in HD TV is considered 1080p because it displays a smoother image than 1080i. But, be careful, just because your TV can display 1080p does not mean it will; your signal source needs to be 1080p for you to reap the full benefits of 1080p. Currently, most HD broadcast is in 720p or 1080i, so even if you have a TV that can display 1080p, you won't be getting the full benefit of it from your average television program. Where you will notice the difference is if you play a lot of video games or watch a lot of blu-ray movies. Serious gamers already know the xbox360 and playstation 3 can output at 1080p, and obviously blu-ray dvds can also send a picture in 1080p to your television.

Ultimately, to decide which TV is better for you, you need to take into account your viewing habits.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Panasonic HD TV with built in Freesat

Panasonic have launched 3 new televisions that feature a built in Freesat receiver.
The three televisions are all Full-HD plasma screens, ranging from 42inch through to 50inch screen size. The inclusion of freesat receivers in the televisions marks a breakthrough in digital tv for the consumer. Removing the need for an extra freesat box under your telly, getting rid of that extra remote control and also, removing the need for extra wiring between your TV and your freesat box can only be beneficial to the consumers. I wonder how long it will take for other manufacturers to follow suit.

The Panasonic Viera PZ81 series has three models: TH-42PZ81, TH-46PZ81 and TH-50PZ81. They are stylish and offer Panasonic quality.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Freesat - Digital set top boxes

Well, it seems that initial supply problems are starting to subside with good availablility of freesat boxes in many retailers now.

There is currently a special offer on at currys where you can purchase a Goodmans Freesat High Definition Digital Box for only £119.99. This is a significant saving on the cost of the box from Argos where you would pay £149.99 for the same box.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008


The register reports that iPlayer could be used to watch Freesat programs within the next year. For those that don't know, iPlayer is the BBC's online service that basically lets you watch TV programs that have already aired over broadband. Television shows up to 7 days old are available on iPlayer. You have to pay your TV license to be able to watch shows for free and shows expire after 30 days.

So theoretically, within a year, we will be able to watch Freesat HD shows over our broadband connections. There are already ethernet ports in the back of all Freesat digital boxes (currently not in use, but there for future proofing). The biggest problem though is the huge amount of data and bandwidth an HD movie would consume. Internet Service Providers would struggle to offer cheap broadband solutions if everyone maxed out their downloads and pulled HD movies down everyday.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Which Freesat Box Should I Buy?

So, which freesat digital box should you buy?
It depends on your budget. There are several options available; SD, HD and soon a PVR version and integrated into your television.

The SD box is the entry level option, but don't let that fool you. They still have the following great features

  • 7-day on-screen programme guide
  • Digital text
  • Interactive service
  • Audio descriptions and Digital subtitles
  • Parental controls and child lock
The SD box is probably for you if you TV is not HD ready, or you just want a simple box for use in the bedroom with your second TV. The Bush BFSAT01SD Freesat SD Digital Box From Argos is a great choice if you just want a simple box. Alternatively, the
Goodmans GFSAT100SD Silver Freesat SD Digital Box From Argos
is also a great choice.

If you prefer a High-Definition (HD) box, then you should be sure you TV can support HD. Look for the HD ready image on your television or in your instruction manual for your TV. An HD digital box will allow you to take full advantage of freesat's high definition television. A great box for HD is the
Humax Foxsat HD Freesat Set Top Box
which also has the added advantage of allowing you to control a motorised satellite dish.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

High Demand for Freesat HD Boxes

Freesat's website has issued a small update, pointing out that there is a shortage of freesat HD boxes available for sale.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Freesat teething problems

Freesat is today coming under fire for keeping a tight lid on the Freesat specification. Thus only selected manufacturers can make Freesat equipment. Furthermore, any channels which are already free to view on satellite will need to pay a carriage charge and sign a contract with Freesat before they will be included in the electronic programme guide. According to the Freesat specs, any non-Freesat channels that are free to view must be seperated out from the Freesat channels in the user interface of the Freesat digital receivers.

Freesat is set up as a not-for-profit company. BBC and ITV are its joint shareholders and will each put in £3m per year into the company. Obviously both ITV and the BBC will be marketing Freesat onscreen.

Meanwhile, for consumers, getting hold of Freesat receiver boxes has been difficult. Currently, you can only purchase your receiver from Argos, Currys, Comet and John Lewis, and many stores are out of stock of all boxes. Not to mention the online shopping arm of the stockists have been very slow to update pages with the products. Only Argos has a consistently update page of products.

Further teathing problems include some rumours that all Grundig, Bush and Goodmans Freesat receivers have been recalled.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Humax Foxsat Freesat digital set top box

Humax Foxsat HD Freesat Set Top Box

The Humax Foxsat-HD digital set top box is available from several retailers. You can purchase it from Argos for £149.99. The HD box comes with an HDMI cable, scart lead and remote. It has a seven day EPG and an intuitive "find" function. There are also parental controls so children can be prevented from watching inappropriate content.

There is an Ethernet port which is currently disabled, but in the long term will allow users to receive additional content via IP.

Freesat Official Press Release

The official BBC press release for freesat can be found here.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

BBC Freesat Video

BBC video reporting on Freesat highlighting the fact that freesat should solve the problem that many of us face in not being able to get a digital signal in our areas. Also points out that Sky might have a similar free satellite service though the BBC contends that Sky's free service is simply there to lure people in and convert them into paying customers.

BBC HD Freesat promo video

Here's a promo video from the BBC touting the HD capabilities of the new Freesat service:

BBC's Mark Thompson introduces Freesat

At the press conference earlier today, Mark Thompson of the BBC introduced the new Freesat service. Check out the video clip.

He notes that one of the aims of Freesat is to make digital television available to people who do not want to pay a subscription; obviously, alluding to Sky's subscription based satellite service without actually naming his competitor.

Freesat Guardian Unlimited Reports

The Guardian Unlimited has reported on the new Freesat service being offered by BBC and ITV with reports that the BBC has ambitious plans to offer on-demand programming via broadband TV services.

The Guardian reports that Mark Thompson outlined his plans at the press launch of Freesat today. Set top boxes will feature built in ethernet connections which will allow them to connect to the internet.

Offering broadband access through Freesat boxes would be available to all households within "months".

Freesat website updated

To celebrate the launch of Freesat, the Freesat website has been updated. It now has a new look and information about the Freesat service. Including information about the available channels (over 80 of them) and the on-screen programme guide.

There is also information about the various retailers that are offering the Freesat set top boxes, and some info about the boxes themselves (there are different versions - HD, non-HD, integrated PVR, Integrated TV).

Here's a screenshot:

Freesat Launch Day!!!

Today is the day! Freesat is launching at last.

Freesat set top boxes should be available from Currys, Dixons, Comet, Argos and John Lewis from today. Installations should be available from the same retailers, but if you already have a sattelite dish installed, you may just be able to plug the set top box in and get freesat without having to pay for installation.

Freesat is to remain subscription free according to the BBC.

The official launch time is at 12:30pm, and a press conference is due to take place on BBC Radio. The freesat website should also be updated today.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Freesat When Is It Due To Launch?

Freesat will be launching on the 6th May.

Once freesat has officially launched, you will be able to purhase your freesat equipment from one of the authorised sellers.

Look out - freesat is launching next week! Can't wait!

Freesat Channels

Freesat brings you great entertainment and a host of TV channels for free!

You will get great movies, drama, comedy, children's shows, reality TV, sport, news, shopping and much much more with freesat.

You won't need to choose a package like with Sky. With freesat, all the TV channels are included free.

There are more than 80 channels available on freesat so you will always have something to watch.

Initial reports suggest that many of the following channels will be available:

101 BBC 1
102 BBC 2
103 ITV1
104 Channel 4
106 BBC Three
107 BBC Four
108 BBC HD
113 ITV2
115 ITV3
116 ITV3+1
117 ITV4
120 S4C Digidol
122 E4 (presently encypted)
124 More4 (presently encrypted)
135 Zone Romantica
138 Zone Thriller
200 BBC News
201 BBC Parliament
202 S4C2
203 Al Jazeera Eng
204 Euronews
300 FilmFour
302 True Movies
303 True Movies 2
304 Movies4Men
306 Movies4Men2
402 Wedding TV
411 O’seasproperty
450 Men and Motors
500 Chart Show TV
501 The Vault
502 Scuzz
503 Bubble Hits
504 B4U Music
600 CBBC Channel
601 CBeebies
602 CITV
603 POP
604 POPGirl
605 Tiny POP
650 Teachers TV
700 BBC Radio 1
701 1Xtra BBC
702 BBC Radio 2
703 BBC Radio 3
704 BBC Radio 4 FM
705 BBC Redio 4 LW
706 BBC R 5 Live
707 BBCR5LiveSport
708 BBCR 6 Music
709 BBC 7
710 BBC Asian Net
711 BBC World Sv
712 BBC R Scotland
713 BBC RnGaidheal
714 BBC R Wales
715 BBC R Cymru
716 BBC R Ulster
718 BBC London94.9
800 QVC
801 price-drop tv
802 bid tv
803 Pitch TV
810 JML Lifestyle
951 BBC 1 Cl
954 BBC 1 East (W)
957 BBC 1 NI
960 BBC 1 Scotland
964 BBC 1 Wales
969 BBC 2 NI
970 BBC 2 Scotland
971 BBC 2 W

Feesat What Is It?

Freesat is the new free HD sattelite TV service in the UK. It is being brought to you by the BBC and ITV. There is no extra cost for freesat. You will not have to pay a monthly subscription (unlike other sattelite services such as Sky). All you need is a sattelite dish and an appropriate sattelite receiver.

Soon you will be able to purchase a freesat dish and receiver from some of the authorised retailers, have the dish installed and begin watching some fantastic free HD sattelite TV courtesy of the BBC and ITV.

HD TV gives you better experience because there is 4 times more picture detail than regular TV. You will get fantastic pictures, great sound and wonderful colours from your freesat HD sattelite reception.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

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