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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.

Help with High Definition?
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All five public service channels now free to air!6

Sunday, 13 February 2011
3:55 PM

ok I try the test. Give me a few minutes till I go to tv.

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Chris's 4 posts GB flag

4:06 PM

Chris: No problem.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
4:15 PM

Can't even get the cable out of the back of the Sky+ plus. The rear part of it is slackening at the 1st washer but the whole thing won't budge and I don't want to break it. I'll have to admit defeat for the minute and wait for the other half to get back from the pub - hopefully in a better mood than when he went :-) Didn't believe me when I said that our booster only gives just over 20 freeview channels via the roof aerial. He used to live in the central belt where they got everything going.
If the test works later, can I leave it connected that way and still use my Sky+box to get Alibi and the new Sky Atlantic channel which we like?

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Chris's 4 posts GB flag
Chris Wheatley
5:01 PM

If you manage to connect your TV directly to the sat dish you will then be able to receive the Freesat channels including HD. You can also get channels which are not part of the Freesat branding (but not Sky)by tuning the "other" satellite channels. Did you know you can also attach a USB external disk drive and record to it via the TV tuner. That means you can record Freesat or Freeview channels for later viewing, however you can't record a freesat channel whilst simultaneously watching a Freeviw channel or vice versa.

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Chris Wheatley's 13 posts GB flag
Chris's: mapC's Freeview map terrainC's terrain plot wavesC's frequency data C's Freeview Detailed Coverage

5:22 PM

Chris: There is only one part to the satellite cable connector, just unscrew it.

I don't have your postcode so I don't know how many Freeview channels you can receive.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Friday, 11 March 2011
11:59 AM

This is one is going to sound stupid but here goes. My TV aerial flylead goes into a non HD DVD Freeview recorder and then a lead comes out of there into the back of my HD TV. I have been waiting for the day when HD Freeview broadcasts from Sandy Heath - which is soon - but now I am wondering if routing it through a non HD recorder box will affect my ability to receive HD?

Also, my house is wired for the TV aerial in three rooms but as soon as I connect more than one Freeview TV up, the signal is too weak to deal with it. Will this improve after the March switchover?

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Hertfordshaz's 7 posts GB flag

12:45 PM

Hertfordshaz: The answers are "no" and "yes".

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
2:13 PM

Thanks Brian

By the way - the new pic is far less scary !

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Hertfordshaz's 7 posts GB flag
Mike Dimmick

2:22 PM


If the tuner in your TV is Freeview HD capable, and you connect it to the aerial, you should get HD on the TV.

The 'loop through' connections which pass the aerial cable through do one of two things to the signals: either nothing at all*, or add the recorder's output at a selected frequency. The tuner in the TV is responsible for decoding the signals.

* OK, usually there's a small boost to the signal level to make up for the losses inside the recorder, and this usually brings a slight increase in noise as well. If your reception is marginal this can make a difference in how well the TV performs.

A lot of TVs were advertised as 'HD Ready'. This means that they have an HD-resolution screen (at least 720 or 1080 lines), can handle external HD-resolution inputs on component cables and at least one sort of digital input (HDMI or DVI), and do content protection on the digital input. However, the standard for broadcasting HD channels in the UK wasn't finished until late 2009, so if your TV was designed before that, it's unlikely to be able to show HD channels without some help.

Generally, it's a good idea to use an amplified splitter as close to the aerial as possible, if you're going to feed multiple rooms. It sounds like you may have just used unpowered splitters or even just twisted the cables together. For best results you need proper splitters that keep proper continuity all around the centre core and are matched properly to the cables - if you don't 'terminate' a coaxial cable properly, the travelling signal reflects off the end of a cable and you get echoes, which confuse the tuner. (On analogue, you get 'ghost' pictures.) The TV or box normally takes care of this, but it goes wrong if cables are split incorrectly.

Splitting cables always reduces the signal level in the cable. If it drops too much, you need to either use a larger aerial, or add an amplifier. The increase in gain should be just enough to offset the loss through the splitter and the longest run of cable. An amplified splitter will usually have just enough gain to offset its own loss.

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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
3:34 PM

Thanks Mike

My house was built 8 years ago with the areial cables "built in" and outlets in three rooms. In the loft there are just three aerial leads with the connectors attached. We have just used a three way splitter because we don't have power up there. I've tried adding a booster at the TV end but that isn't working at all. Do you still think the digital switchover will boost the power enough to feed all three? Or is there another way which doesn't need power in the loft? The picture when it is not split and its only feeding one TV is great, but I can't get a decent picture on the second TV when the splitter is added. I've not even attempted the third yet !!

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Hertfordshaz's 7 posts GB flag
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