How much is it going to cost to get High Definition TV?
Brian Butterworth published on UK Free TV
- if you already have access to a dish or TV aerial
- if you live in a switched-over TV region
- if you live close to one of the terrestrial transmitters with the special early HD service.
It can cost as little as £68, and as much as £350 to get free HD TV. Channel 4 HD is only carried by Freeview HD in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and is not provided on Freesat HD as yet.
Option 1 - Freesat HD with an existing dish, from £68
If you have access to a satellite dish, but are not currently using it, then you can purchase a Freesat HD box for as little as £68.
All that is required is:
- plug the output from the dish to the Freesat HD box;
- connect an HDMI cable from the Freesat HD box to the HD Ready TV
- plug the Freesat HD box into the mains
You will get BBC HD and ITV HD plus hundreds of SD channels, including those from BBC, ITV and Channel 4. Most Freeview HD boxes also provide the BBC iPlayer - this requires an Ethernet patch cable connection to your home router. You can enter an England postcode to a Freesat box to access ITV1 HD outside England and Wales.
Option 2 - Freeview HD, from £99
If you live in a television broadcast region that has switched to digital only transmission (including all of Wales and South West England) - you no longer have any analogue television - or you live in an area with the Freeview HD early service (such as London and Birmingham) you can use Freeview HD.
All that is required:
- connect the Freeview HD box to your rooftop TV aerial
- connect the Freeview HD box to your HD Ready television with an HDMI cable.
- Plug the Freeview HD box into the mains
You will get BBC HD, ITV1 HD (except Scotland, Northern Ireland), Channel 4 HD (S4C HD in Wales) plus all of the other Freeview channels you could get before.
Some boxes also provide BBC iPlayer access. For a review of boxes, see Freeview HD Set-top Receivers - reghardware.
Option 3 - Freesat HD, no existing dish, from £148If you don't have a dish, and want to watch HD but do not wish to record (or timeshift) your HD viewing, it costs less than £80 to have a dish installation for a single Freesat HD set-top box.
Most people can have dishes installed, and the engineer will also attach the Freesat HD box to your HD Ready television. See option 1 for the list of channels.
Option 4 - Freesat+ HD recorder, existing quad LNB dish, from £199If you have an existing satellite dish with a quad-LNB (basically, it has four outputs) - perhaps you have (or have had) a Sky+ box - then you can fit a Freesat+HD recorder in place, or in addition to, a Sky+ box.
If you have a Sky+ box with an expired subscription, this is an excellent way to provide HD.
The process is:
- Power off the Sky+ box and disconnect it from the mains, the two satellite dish connections and the SCART cable;
- Connect the Freesat+HD to the two satellite connections;
- Use an HDMI cable to connect the Freesat+HD box to your TV
- Connect the mains to the Freesat+HD box.
If you have a Sky+ system, and wish to use the spare two outputs from the quad-LNB on the dish, this will require two satellite-grade coaxial cables to be fitted, which can be done DIY, or professionally.
Option 5 - Freeview+HD, from £285Freeview+HD devices only require connection to a single TV aerial, so you can use as many of them in the home as you like. However, being the most recent to market the boxes are currently around £285 (Philips Debuts Freeview HD PVR - ITProPortal.com).
This price will no doubt drop over the coming years, but the first boxes also provide many additional facilities, such as playback from memory sticks.
Option 6 - Freesat+HD, no existing dish, from £309If you want to have recording and live pause facilities with your High Definition, then a dish with a quad-LNB and installation will cost from around £110, to add to the £199 cost for a Freesat+HD box.
Option 7 - Sky+HD, from £336 PER YEAR
Another option is the Sky+HD package, as this features a "free" Sky+HD box and "free" installation, at a quite reasonable £336. You only have to subscribe for the first year, but if you continue this will be for at least £336 in the following years.
Sky HD does provide a number of additional exclusive HD channels, but the box will not record or play once you stop your subscription.
Help with High Definition?
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