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Should I buy Freeview HD for Christmas?

It isn't just for the first high definition EastEnders on Christmas Day, Freeview HD is the gift that keeps giving

It isn't just for the first high definition EastEnders on Chris
published on UK Free TV

What are the benefits?

Four high definition channels

Everyone gets:
  • BBC HD. All the programmes on this channel are in high definition, and comprises of simulcasts of BBC TWO, BBC three and BBC FOUR shows, narrative repeats of these shows (rebroadcast within the first week of showing on a main channel) plus some high definition BBC classics.
  • BBC One HD. This channel shows high definition versions of most programmes on BBC One, with a commitment to move towards 100% high definition output over the coming years.
  • ITV1 HD (or STV1 HD or UTV1 HD). As with BBC One HD, this is a high definition version of the most popular commercial channel.

Plus one of:

  • Channel 4 HD. Again, a simulcast of the main Channel 4 channel in high definition, but again where available, and not in Wales.
  • Clirlun (S4C HD). In Wales, a high definition version of the Welsh language channel S4C.

Christmas Day EastEnders will be in HD
Christmas Day EastEnders will mark the first broadcast of the BBC soap in high definition.

Better pictures for sport

One of the main improvements in high definition is the ability to provide much better motion for sport compared to standard digital television.

Clearer pictures for documentaries and drama

Many of the most popular high definition shows are documentaries and drama where the clarity of the picture gives a distinct edge to the viewing experience.


As movies have always been created on 35mm film (rather than videotape), this means that any movie created since the 1920s can be shown in high definition.

All existing Freeview services

In addition, you also get all of the existing Freeview channels.

Better overlap handling

Another benefit of Freeview HD boxes is that they deal much better than standard boxes when you live in an area served by more than one transmitter. These boxes now prompt you to select your BBC and ITV region, older boxes just guess.

Christmas Day installing

Freeview HD is very, very easy to install. All you will need is:

  • A high definition television set. Any set with "HD Ready" or "Full HD Ready" markings will work. A limited number of very old high definition sets may not have these markings, so you may have to check for the presence of an HDMI input socket.
  • Your EXISTING aerial connection. A rooftop aerial is already required for reliable Freeview reception, so as long as normal Freeview (or Freeview light) is being received, Freeview HD will normally work (see coverage below, however). YOU DO NOT NEED A NEW AERIAL TO USE FREEVIEW HD.
  • A power point.
  • An HDMI cable. This will normally come with the box, but if you are hoping to install the set-top box on Christmas Day you might want to ensure that the cable is there. Remember that, as HDMI is a balanced high-speed digital connection, there is no benefit paying more than a few pounds for a cable as screening (or gold connectors) will made no difference whatsoever to the quality of picture transferred. As with most digital components, it will work - or not.

Recording and live pausing with Freeview+HD

Humax box

As well as the basic Freeview HD boxes, you can also purchase Freeview+HD boxes, which contain a hard disk drive (as found in computers) and two digital tuners. This allows, much like the popular Sky+ and Freeview+ boxes you to:

  • Record a whole series of a show with a single button press
  • Record one show whilst watching another one live
  • Record two shows while you watch a recording from the drive.
  • Set a show to record by pressing a button when you see a trailer for it.

Freeview record/play/pause devices DO NOT require a special aerial to work.

Where will it work?

It will definitely work in any region that has switched off the analogue signals and replaced them with digital only, which is:

UK areas that have switched to digital-only transmission

There is also a pre-switchover service from a few main transmitters:

Five transmitters with Freeview HD at low power

In the above cases the service is not provided from any relay transmitters, and the lower power levels provide service only to the core transmitter area.

Help with High Definition?
Whenever i watch moving sport especially football I experience much poorer pictu1
In this section
Freeview removes com8 channels 1
20 Freeview HD TV channels to close March/June 2019 in Cornwall2
Channel 4 abandons Freesat HD in TWO DAYS3
Five tips for when you are buying a new TV to watch Freeview or Freesat4
Why do less than one in five people with an HD set watch in HD?5
All five public service channels now free to air!6

Thursday, 6 January 2011
Maurice Deaton
11:37 PM

Please advise when HD test transmissions will be available Waltham. I believe full service will be available from August 2011 but I would like to test and set-up nbefore then.


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Maurice Deaton's 1 post GB flag
Friday, 7 January 2011
Mike Dimmick

7:08 PM

Maurice Deaton: there will not be any test transmissions from Waltham before the DSO2 date. There are no frequencies available for testing, because all the frequencies are already in use at multiple sites.

A few sites have had HD transmitters set up before switchover, to cover the largest cities (e.g. London, Birmingham, Yorkshire, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh - Manchester and Liverpool have already switched), but most of these have had to run at lower power than the rest of the digital multiplexes, with correspondingly poorer coverage areas. They've had to run at lower power to avoid conflicting with other sites using the same frequencies.

HD service starts from Waltham on the 31st of August 2011, when all analogue services are switched off.

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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
9:47 PM

What is all this fuss about "High Definition"
next year it is 75 years old as it says on the blue plaque on the wall at Alexandra Palace, London, Which says "From this site the World's first High Definition television was broadcast 1936"

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Denis's 1 post GB flag

10:05 PM

Denis: What was considered High Definition television in 1936 isn't now, and besides I bet in say 30 years from now 1080i HD will be considered standard definition, and we will be discussing a lot about ultra HD like we discuss things about HD at present.

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Josh's 97 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
Gordon Caird
11:08 PM

I am thinking on purchasing an hd freeview box. My existing Samsung tv has built in standard freeview. I take it that the hd box will simply override the built in freeview.

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Gordon Caird's 1 post GB flag

11:21 PM

Gordon Caird: Assuming your set has an HDMI input, this digital interconnect will provide the connection to the external tuner ("set top box").

If you disconnect the aerial from the TV, this will be fine as you won't really wanting to be using the TV's Freeview SD tuner.

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Briantist's 38,915 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 12 January 2011

10:18 AM

Gordon - your new box will not "override" the built in tuner. Rather you will tell your TV not to display from the built in tuner, but from whatever input you use to connect to the new tuner.

Think of your TV as two things in one box. A tuner and a display. Some TVs have several tuners built in. Yours may well have an analogue tuner as well as Freeview, for example, and some have satellite built in.

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steve's 1,173 posts GB flag
7:53 PM

hi, my sister in law (aged 75) got a sony hd set before xmas. She had a high gain aeriel fitted and got bbc hd until a few days ago. She is on the sutton coldfield transmitter (although she thought it was bromsgrove) and from what I (a novice) can see they are not transmitting in HD. What could be thereason for this.She has been advised to contact sony

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bett's 6 posts GB flag
Thursday, 13 January 2011
10:14 AM

Thanks, it will have to wait until next week until we can visit as its too complicated for her. I'll post the response.

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bett's 6 posts GB flag
bett's: mapB's Freeview map terrainB's terrain plot wavesB's frequency data B's Freeview Detailed Coverage
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