What is Freeview?
Freeview is the UK’s free-to-air digital TV service, offering over 45 channels without subscription, as well as free HD channels. The service replaces analogue TV in the UK, and the process has become known as the digital switchover. Digital is a far more efficient and beneficial way to send and receive signals, giving UK TV viewers a better experience.
To watch Freeview, you can buy a Freeview set-top box, or purchase a Freeview integrated HD TV. If you want to watch in HD, you will need a Freeview HD box and HD TV, or the integrated HD TV.
The Freeview channels can vary depending on your region, but you will get the core free-to-air channels, and if you have an HD-ready TV and a Freeview HD box, or integrated Freeview HD TV, then you can watch some free-to-air HD channels.
You should be getting the mainstream digital TV broadcasts, which include BBC One, BBC Two, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5, as well as sister channels such as BBC Three, BBC Four, ITV2, E4 and Film4.
If you buy a Freeview integrated TV it may come with Smart TV services, which offer on demand catch-up and web-connected content through your TV set, such as BBC iPlayer and YouTube.
You can also go with BT TV, which includes you area’s Freeview channels, as well as a range of on demand content and the option to add some premium content from Sky. You can also check out Sky and Virgin Media, as these subscription-based providers include Freeview channels along with a range of other channels and premium content for sports and movie fans.
With a Freeview+ box you can pause, rewind and record live TV, so you never have to miss a moment. You can store multiple recordings in the set-top box memory, and you can set a whole series to record so you don’t miss out on any episodes.
There are no tapes required, or any subscription fees; you buy the box, plug in your aerial and SCART and you’re ready to go. There are different manufacturers building Freeview boxes, so you can shop around and find a good deal. You can find very cheap Freeview+ boxes, although if you pay a bit more you can get more features, such as high definition compatibility.
With Freeview HD you can watch free-to-air content from BBC, ITV and Channel 4 in stunning high definition. This revolutionary format offers enhanced picture and sound, and makes for a crisp, clear visual and aural experience.
To watch in HD you will need an HD-ready TV, as well as a Freeview HD set-top box or Freeview integrated HD TV. There is no monthly subscription to pay, so the HD broadcasts and standard definition channels are all free. The only money if you have to spend is the one-off cost for equipment, and if you shop around you can usually find a good deal.
On Demand/Smart TV
Smart TV with Freeview gives you access to BBC on demand catch-up content with the hugely popular iPlayer, and view YouTube videos, as well as take advantage of online rental services with LoveFilm. Many of the integrated Freeview HD TVs being manufactured are built with the Smart TV services, whilst selected Freeview+HD boxes also carry this functionality and will provide these services, as long as you have an HD-ready TV.
Freeview is a subscription-free service, so there are no packages and viewing pack deals to compare, but you can check out prices for different Freeview set-top boxes, with HD compatibility and pause, rewind and record functions. Alternatively, you might want to compare prices for a Freeview integrated HD TV. This is a Freeview digital decoder and HD TV combo, and there are some good prices on the market if you shop around.