Freeview is the cheapest way to get digital TV, with no monthly subscription it really is free tv. But is Freeview right for you? Get all the information you need about Freeview here and then make your choice.
Freeview TV at a glance
Freeview is the cheapest and most straight forward way to get digital TV. All you have to do is buy a Freeview box for each TV and you get access to over 40 free digital TV channels.
Freeview TV Prices
A good Freeview box costs around £30, although you can get a basic one for as little as £10. However, for a little more (£85) you can now buy a Freeview Plus box with a built in recorder that lets you record TV programmes or entire series with the press of a button, similar to Sky+.
Freeview TV Pros
- All channels are free to watch. Freeview has over 40 digital TV channels, including BBC3, ITV2, E4, Dave, Sky News and Film4.
- There is no monthly fee to pay; you only need to pay a one off fee for the Freeview box.
Freeview TV Cons
- There is very limited number of channels available on Freeview TV when compared to Sky TV, Virgin Media or Freesat
- HD (High Definition) television services are not available yet on Freeview TV.
- You may need to upgrade your TV aerial to receive Freeview as the signal strength varies across TV regions.
Who should get Freeview TV?
- If you don’t want to pay a monthly fee and are satisfied with the free channels Freeview is the ideal option for you.
- Freeview is also great if you want to get digital TV for the secondary TVs in house. E.g. in the bedrooms or kitchen.
- Freeview is the cheapest way to convert your TVs to digital when your region switches off the analogue signal
What is Freeview?
Freeview launched in 2002 and is a free digital TV service offering over 40 TV channels including the standard five terrestrial channels plus new offerings such as BBC Three, ITV2, Film4, E4, Sky News and CBeebies. It only requires a one-off payment for the set top box and there’s no monthly subscription, so it’s a good way of getting digital.
Can I get Freeview TV?
Freeview is currently available to around 75% of households. You can check if you are in a Freeview area using the checker on Freeview’s site.
If you know you cannot get Freeview TV at the moment, don’t worry as the switchover means that everyone will be able to get it eventually. However if you want the benefits of digital TV now you could still get Sky or Virgin Media.
If you can get Freeview, you need to make sure your TV aerial is in good condition as it will be used to receive the service along with the set top box. Generally, if your TV reception is good now, you should be able to get a good digital signal after the switchover.
What TV channels can I get with Freeview?
There are channels that appeal to everyone, film lovers get access to the brilliant Film4 and there is great entertainment on E4, More4, Sky Three and BBC Three. For music there’s The Hits and TMF, for sports you can keep up to date with Sky Sports News. If you’re a newshound, BBC News 24 and Sky News will keep you informed on world news and current affairs; whilst CBBC, CBeebies and CITV will keep the little ones entertained.
The total number of TV channels stands at over 40 at the moment, but there are plans to add more to offer you a greater selection, possibly including HD TV channels.
As well as these free channels, you get over 20 free digital radio stations, including all national BBC Radio stations, Kiss and Heart. You can also access a range of interactive services at the press of the red button. This means you can watch extra news reports, check sports results, travel information and weather forecasts, play games and even go shopping.
Know you want Freeview? Compare Freeview Box Prices with Amazon.co.uk
What equipment will I need for Freeview TV?
To get Freeview you’ll need to get a Freeview box which will work with your existing TV. You plug your existing TV aerial cable into the back of the set top box and then simply connect the set top box and your TV with a second cable (included when you buy your set top box). It’s straight forward to install, so you can do it yourself, and start enjoying a wider choice of channels in no time.
The only exceptions are where the Freeview signal is weaker in your area you may need to pay to upgrade your aerial; or if your TV does not have a SCART socket, but don’t worry as all you need to do is buy something called an ‘RF modulator’.
What equipment is available for Freeview?
Getting digital can be as simple as getting a basic Freeview box, but there are an increasing number of other options available which may better match your needs:
- Freeview box (also known as a set top box): this is the simplest, cheapest way for you to get Freeview as it works with your existing TV and connects easily. All digital boxes have a ‘Now and Next’ on screen guide and some even come with an eight day TV guide. It’s good for converting the secondary TVs in your house or as a gift to get friends and family digital.
- Freeview Plus (Digital TV recorders): Keep missing your favourite programmes? A digital TV recorder(also known as a PVR), is perfect for you as it means you can record hours of your favourite Freeview programmes directly onto the hard drive (no need for blank videos or dvds) and watch at a time convenient to you. You can also set it up to record an entire series with the press of a button, or pause and rewind live TV. Freeview call this Freeview Plus, their version of the Sky+. It works with your existing TV and is simple to connect.
- Digital TVs (also called idTVs): Just want an excuse to buy a new TV? These TVs have a digital box built in so they are digital switchover ready, and it also means that you won’t need an additional box or remote cluttering up your living room. You just need to choose whether you want a LCD or Plasma.. decisions, decisions.
How much will Freeview cost?
With Freeview, all you have to pay for is the equipment, as there are no monthly subscriptions. A good set top box will cost around £30, and is the cheapest albeit most basic, way to get a TV digital.
However more and more people are now paying a little extra to get a digital recorder which gives you many of the services that you would get with a Sky+ box, without any monthly costs. Digital recorders make TV schedules fit in with your life, you can pause and rewind live TV and record all your favourites and playback at a time that suits you. If you want to buy a digital TV recorder they start at around £85.
Is Freeview right for me?
If you only want a very basic service, or you just need to get a digital service on your secondary TVs, a standard set top box offering Freeview is fine. The digital TV recorders are great as they give you added flexibility to the Freeview service, through the recording and playback features.