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.

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