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How much is it going to cost to get High Definition TV?

It can cost as little as 68 pounds, and as much as 336 pounds to get free HD TV.

It can cost as little as 68 pounds, and as much as 336 pounds t
published on UK Free TV

If you already have a HD Ready television set, or are considering purchasing one, how much is costs to get the free HD services from the BBC and ITV depends on a few factors:

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 £148

If 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 £199

If 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 £285

Freeview+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 -

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 £309

If 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.

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Saturday, 5 February 2011

5:55 PM

Is the HD signal weaker than SD? I'm on Redruth and have an HD box. Works well and great picture, but the HD signal breaks up quite a lot (seems sensitive to the weather), yet the SD signal always seems solid. Also the volume is a lot less than SD. Any reason for this?

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Nick's 58 posts GB flag

6:10 PM

Nick: The signal levels on the PSB multiplexes is the same for the SD and HD services.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Sunday, 6 February 2011

10:49 PM

Thanks. Why the difference I wonder. The HD box will not pass an RF signal through the RF loop unless I leave it on power. I have the TV connected with both HDMI and RF coaxial leads so I can still use the TV receiver. So I have a Phillips splitter in the circuit so I can still pass a signal to the TV with the HD box switched off. I know you lose a little signal but would this be enough to cause the difference?

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Nick's 58 posts GB flag
Monday, 7 February 2011

7:55 AM

Nick: You should just use a Y-connector to split the signal.
UHF TV Signal Splitter : Aerial Splitters : Maplin

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 9 February 2011

6:58 AM

Thanks. That's what I have done. Still wondering why the HD picture breaks up sometimes when the SD seems rock steady.

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Nick's 58 posts GB flag
Mike Dimmick

3:50 PM

Nick: because the frequency of the HD service is slightly higher it will travel slightly less well than the SD service. However, if this small difference were enough to disrupt the HD services, I would expect that the commercial multiplexes - which are on half the power *and* at higher frequencies - not to work at all.

I do note that the SDN multiplex is on C48, the adjacent channel to HD services on C47. If overall signal strength is very high, it can overload amplifiers and cause signals to bleed into adjacent channels. I would expect this to happen both ways, though, and channels on the SDN multiplex to be equally badly affected (or, considering the lower power of the SDN transmission, worse). If you have an amplifier, try removing that - if the splitter is amplified, try a non-amplified splitter as Brian suggested. If that doesn't help, try adding an attenuator.

A final thing to check is to ensure that the HD receivers is actually tuning into Redruth C47 and not Caradon Hill C22, which has nearly as good a prediction for you, if the right aerial is oriented in the right direction, but will be substantially weaker if picked up as a side transmission. Freeview HD boxes are supposed to tune into the best signal, though, rather than just the first found.

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Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB flag
Mike's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Thursday, 10 February 2011

6:21 AM

Thanks Mike.

I have an amplifier feeding 3 separate TVs, so it's more for distribution. The splitter is non-amplified. How do I check the box is tuning to Redruth? It just goes into auto tune.

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Nick's 58 posts GB flag
Sunday, 13 February 2011
3:42 PM

I really need help please because I don't understand what to do.
I have just bought a Panasonic TX-L37D28BS television. I have a Sky+ box with a sub to the normal channels ie. no sport or movies.
This new TV has Freeview and Freesat built in and can show pictures in HD quality. I've read in the tv manual about HDMI leads. There's plenty on the back of the tv but one on the back of the Sky+ box.
What I need to know is how do I get the HD channels that are broadcast on Freeview without changing to a Sky+HD box as I don't want to pay another £10 a month to Sky.
Also what do I need to do to pick up the Freesat channels?

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Chris's 4 posts GB flag
3:45 PM

sorry just noticed spelling mistakes in my post. It should have said there's plenty of HDMI sockets on the back of the tv but none on the back of the Sky+ box.

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Chris's 4 posts GB flag

3:50 PM

Chris: If you have a Freesat HD television set, you need to connect the satellite dish to the set to get HD.

Your dish will have two spare LNB outputs, as you have Sky+, but you will need to run in a cable.

You can test this by powering off your Sky+ box and borrowing the cable connected to the "satellite 2" input and attaching it (again with the power off) to the "satellite input" on the TV.

You can't get HD from a Sky+ box, only a Sky+HD box, no matter what cables you use.

Another option is to stop paying Sky and get a Freesat+HD (or, if you live in a switched area, a Freeview+HD) box - this will provide HD - via an HDMI cable - for no monthly outlay.

Or, as I say, run in a satellite grade cable in parallel with your Sky+ cables from the dish to the TV "satellite input".

I hope this helps.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
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