Freeview: TV through your aerial
What do you need: TV aerial and Freeview TV or box.
Freeview is the UK’s most popular digital TV service, with about half of British homes using it for their main TV, and almost everyone’s got a Freeview TV or box somewhere in their house.
Most of the UK gets the full Freeview service, which has about 40 TV channels and more than 20 radio channels. More than two million homes also watch Freeview’s four high definition TV channels - BBC One HD, BBC HD, ITV 1 HD and Channel 4 HD.
By the end of 2012, 98 per cent of the UK will be able to receive Freeview, although about 15 per cent will only get 15 ‘core’ channels because they get Freeview from a relay transmitter.
Basic Freeview boxes cost from £20, with Freeview+ recorders from £120, Freeview HD boxes from £60 and Freeview+ HD recorders from £130. Every new TV now has a Freeview tuner, and most HD TVs also come with a Freeview HD tuner (but make sure you ask).
Freeview has an eight-day programme guide, and all Freeview+ recorders have at least two tuners and support Series Links so you can record an entire series automatically. There’s also an app for Apple and Android mobile devices that lets you browse the Freeview guide.
All Freeview HD receivers are capable of connecting to broadband for extra services, such as the Vision IPTV channels, and some also include the BBC iPlayer and ITV Player.
Freesat: free with a dish
What do you need: satellite dish and Freesat TV or box
For those who find the Freeview service too limited or who get only the 15-channel ‘core’ Freeview, Freesat has more than 130 TV and radio channels, and can be received almost anywhere in the UK on the same kind of dish used for Sky.
Most new Freesat receivers and TVs support Freesat HD, which gives you the four Freeview HD channels plus NHK World HD.
There’s an eight-day programme guide, and Freesat-branded apps for Apple and Android which let you browse the listings on mobile devices.
Freesat boxes start at £39, with Freesat HD boxes from £79 and Freesat+ HD recorders from £179. All Freesat+ recorders have twin tuners and automatic series recording. The Freesat range also includes Echostar’s SlingLoaded recorder, which lets you watch Freesat channels and recordings via your broadband connection from anywhere in the world on a PC, Mac, and both Android and Apple mobile devices.
Freesat HD receivers and TVs can also connect via your broadband service to BBC iPlayer and ITV Player, with 4oD expected this year.