A Guide to Freeview
What You Need to Know
- Freeview offers 50 digital channels and 24 radio stations with no monthly fees. All you need is a TV license and a Freeview box.
- You do not need to have a satellite dish fitted to receive Freeview. It works through your standard TV aerial.
- Installing your box is easy. Simply plug it in using the scart connection, as you would a DVD player.
- 83% of the country receives digital signal, but it’s worth checking you’re covered before buying a box.
- The standard Freeview box is very affordable, starting at £20.
- Freeview HD boxes are more expensive, however, you need one if you want to receive the special high definition channels.
- You can also get Freeview + boxes are able to pause and rewind live TV and can even record the entirety of you favourite series at the touch of a button.
What is Freeview?
Freeview is a free to air digital terrestrial service that allows viewers to expand their range of channels beyond the five terrestrial channels. Accessed through a set-top box, with no monthly contract or additional fees, the service allows users to expand their viewing capabilities without entering a costly monthly contract, such as those used by other providers, including Sky.
How Can I Get Freeview?
Freeview is a digital service, which means it can be received by a standard TV aerial. There is no need for a satellite dish and, as long as you live in an area with Freeview coverage, all you need is a set-top box and a TV.
Standard Freeview boxes costs about £20 and are available from most major electronics retailers. As well as receiving digital TV and radio the standard boxes also allow you to use ‘red button’ interactive features and the helpful onscreen TV guide.
Most new TVs come with Freeview built in, so if you bought your TV recently be sure to check that you need it before buying a Box.
How Do I Install a Freeview Box?
Most Freeview boxes plug into your TV using a scart connection. All you need to do is connect the box in the same way you would a DVD player.
If your TV doesn’t have a scart connection you can get freeview boxes which connect to the set’s RF socket. Check with your retailer first that this is the type of box you are buying, as the standard model won’t connect that way.
How Do In Know If My Area Has Coverage?
83% of the population already receives Freeview signal and by the end of 2012 all UK TV will switch over to digital.
In the meantime you can check if you are able to receive in your area using this postcode checker.
It is advisable to check before you buy a Freeview box, but in most cases retailers will refund you if you realise after making a purchase that you can’t receive digital channels.
One of the main benefits of Freeview is the access to digital channels normally only available through Sky or other satellite television companies. In addition to the five terrestrial channels, Freeview offers up to 50 digital TV channels and 24 digital radio stations.
Additional channels offered by the main broadcasters are included, such as ITV2, ITV3, BBC and BBC4, as well as E4, More4 and Film4, Channel 4's popular spin-off channels. Comedy broadcaster Dave is also included, as are various news channels, specialist shopping channels and dedicated children's channels.
High-definition (HD) television is becoming more and more popular due to its superior picture quality and detail and now Freeview channels can be accessed in HD via a HD Freeview set-top box. In order for the channels to appear in HD, the television must have HD capabilities. To check if your TV is HD ready, look for the HD ready logo on the TV itself or in the owner’s manual.
HD Freeview boxes can also be connected to the internet to allow access to BBC iPlayer, the broadcaster's free on-demand television service. As well as being able to receive all the HD channels, these boxes still pick up standard programmes. HD Freeview boxes start at £140.
A Freeview + box offers all the benefits of a standard Freeview box but has the extra ability to pause, rewind and record live television. The set-top box contains a hard drive capable of recording several hours of programming. Popular series can also be recorded in full, allowing the viewer to access each episode of a recorded programme at their leisure. Alternatively, viewers interrupted by a phone call or knock at the door can simply pause the channel they are watching, to resume when they are ready.
These boxes cost £100 or more. However you can also get HD+ boxes, which have the ability the receive high definition channels and to record live TV. These start at £200.
- You can get even greater number of channels for free through a satellite dish. Read our guide to Freesat to find out more.
- Want to upgrade your tele? Read this guide to buying a digital TV.
- Visit UK Net Guide for a detailed TV guide to plan your evening's viewing.