A Buyers Guide to Freeview Television

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A Buyer's Guide to Freeview Television

The term freeview television is pretty self explanatory. It is a service within the United Kingdom that enables all to gain access to television programming free of charge, not counting the annual television licence that is mandatory. With the whole country going digital, freeview television became the most basic television service available. No matter how one runs the numbers, it is also the cheapest way to acquire any television service.

There are many different ways to use the services labeled as freeview television. Different set-ups can be formed to achieve the different end results. Following is a review of all the equipment necessary and a breakdown of all the functionalities each piece of equipment possesses. This information are intended to provide the reader with a good sense of what is available on the market and aid the equipment selection process. By being well informed and factoring in the personal needs, making the right decision should not pose any problem.

Necessary Equipment

Needless to say that equipment is needed in order to access the services provided by the freeview television. The costs of the equipment are insignificant in comparison to the subscription bills on any other service. It is a really small investment to make, for the near fifty channels provided in return.


One of the most common misconceptions is that a different antenna is needed in order to receive freeview television. In areas with strong signal, the same room antenna used to pick ap analogue television signals can do the trick. A digital signal can compensate for errors much easier, so small interference does not affect the quality of the picture as is does to the one provided by an analogue signal. The digital signal has an singal error threshold and when it is reached, the picture turns directly from great to unwatchable.

For areas with marginal signal quality, an external antenna is recommended. An antenna mounted on the roof eliminates a few obstacles that the signal has to pass before it is received. The higher an external antenna can be placed, the better. In these situations, even adding an electric amplifier to the setup might be a good idea.


External receivers are usually needed to interpret the televisions signal. There used to be devices that handled analogue and devices that handled digital signals but this days only the latter exist. Analogue signals have become a thing of the past. The receivers which handle the signal are usually external and referred to as set-top boxes.

A set-top box is a pretty general term and there are a lot of different types. Fortunately, the most basic models enabling the use of freeview television are pretty cheap. As the number of features increases, so does the price. Features do not directly affect the quality of the freeview television service, but can have a great influence on the commodity experienced.

Recorders (DVR or PVR)

The device called a digital or personal video recorder enables the same basic services as the ones provided by a receiver, with the addition of recording and playback capabilities. A DVR or PVR can also be regarded as a set-top box as its main purpose is the same. Some of them even go under the name set-top box and are sold as more advanced models with added features. The term DVR or PVR also refers to some types of camcorders that are of no interest to freeview television customers.

The many applications of the direct to disc recording functionality are the things that make these devices very attractive. The recording is usually done either on an internal or external hard drive. Each new generation of recorders with an internal hard drive has a greater capacity than the one before. With the introduction of freeview HD channels, the storing capacity has even started growing exponentially. Still, If one wishes to make a collection of high definition recordings, the versions with an external hard drive would be better suited as more than one drive can be used for the collection.

Other Functionalities

When selecting a recorder, the dual tuner functionality might prove to be very useful. This functionality allows the recorder to interpret two different channels at the same time. Watching both channels at the same time might be impossible, but this way the user can watch one show while recording another for later use. Two different channels can be recorded too, and in some cases two different subchannels can be recorder while viewing a third. There is also an option for both channels to be outputted to different television sets.

The recordings can even be burned on CD, DVD and Blu Ray. This functionality can make the recorder more pricy, but it is definitely a nice feature for all that wish to catalogue their digital collection on discs. With external hard drives this is also possible, as the drive can later be connected on a computer, so it is a bargain between speed and comfort.

PC Based DVRs

Digital video signals can also be viewed on the computer screen instead of a television set. A simple receiver can become very powerful when combined with a PC but there are other aspects that need to be considered. To be able to interface a receiver with the PC, appropriate software needs to be purchased. The software actually does all the work, so it is very important to choose the right one. Most receivers that are combined with computers come with a disk that contains this type of software, so the software is mainly dependant on the brand of receiver we choose.

Compatible Television Sets

One of the best results of the digital age is that TVs also started adapting to it pretty fast. Most of the TVs offered on the market today, come with more than one port for digital input. This makes it pretty easy to interface any type of set-top box that provides freeview television. One of the things that customers need to pay attention to, is the HD capability of a television set. In order to view high definition programs, a TV set needs to be HD ready or full HD compatible. This only applies to those that are planing on using the freeview HD services

Some of the modern TV sets even have more powerful integrated receivers and tuners than most standard set-top boxes used for freeview of cable television. They can not compete in storing capabilities but still having all in one device and using just one remote control is a great advantage. These models even have improved aesthetics as they can be mounted on a wall with only two cables and no additional equipment to worry about. It is common to find models that even have Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to facilitate sharing of the previously stored videos within the memory.

How to Find Freeview Television Equipment on eBay

Finding suitable equipment for freeview television on eBay is fairly easy. For a service that can be used only within the United Kingdom, the selection of different brands and models is pretty great. The equipment can be separated in three different categories for easier access. The receivers form one category, another are the television sets that support freeview television, and a third category can be formed by all the accessories needed to integrate this equipment.

Reaching the items within each category is pretty easy. Just typing in the word 'freeview' in the search bar lists all the results. The easiest way to narrow down the search is by selecting a category after the results are generated. This technique cuts the results in half.

Another approach is to type in the desired item we are looking for in the search bar. When we start typing 'freeview' a lot of suggestion appear on what we are looking for. The suggestions are spot on, and among them one might find the key words 'recorder', 'set-top box', 'antenna', and other. Adding any of them within the search proves to be most beneficial, but do the global search too, as it might provide some results that are often overlooked.


It might not cost anything to use the freeview television service, but still, a small investment has to be made in order to be able to receive the signal. There are different types of freeview television and the equipment used can vary a bit too. One of the main things that all have to remember is that the digital technology is still developing and that there is no guarantee when the equipment bought is going to become obsolete. That is why moderation should be employed when spending money on the equipment needed for this service.

Purchasing a television set that has the capability to receive freeview television is among the best solutions. The cabling involved is minimal, and all can be done with the use of one remote. While it is among the most elegant solutions, a more complex set-top box might have functionalities that are still out of reach for any television set.

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