The Dos and Don'ts of Buying Freeview Accessories

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The Dos and Don'ts of Buying Freeview Accessories

Freeview's digital broadcasting is easiest to access through the use of a high definition television set with an HD receiver already built in. While this omits much of the complication behind choosing individual components, constructing a comprehensive Freeview-based system from the ground up comes with considerable rewards. Ideally, an advanced home entertainment system built around high definition television offers surround sound, two-channel recording potential, large screen high resolution imagery and 3D potential. To achieve the ultimate Freeview system, it is necessary to consider the future possibilities of this technology. Ultimately, the system should prepare the way for the features that will emerge in the coming years.

Don't Allow a Monitor to Downgrade the High Definition Experience

The original goal of Freeview HD was to give television viewers the same high resolution viewing experience they had become accustomed to on DVD. Those who have Freeview HD receivers can only exploit the clarity and starkness of high definition graphics if their screen is capable of the same resolution. HD screens display up to triple the pixels that analogue is capable of. Resolution becomes sharper with an aspect ratio that suits the human tendency to view horizontally oriented images.


The formats' numerical values refer to the number of horizontal lines on the screen, ranging from 720 to 1080. More importantly, interlaced scans, indicated by the letter I, refer to images expressed in two phases, while progressive scans, represented by the letter p refer to images that are delivered in a single pass. The latter allows the full image to remain on screen constantly, which delivers double the detail. 1080p thus has the same resolution as 1080i, but the former delivers a crisper image.

Screen Size

Bigger is not always better. A large screen size will only encompass viewers well when viewed in a large room. When the seating area is 1.5 metres from the screen, resolution needs to be perfect so that pixels are not visible. Smaller screens have smaller pixels, so larger screens require higher resolutions if viewers plan on sitting less than three metres from the screen. Bedroom televisions should be a minimum of 32 inches, with living room screens reaching 55 inches or more.

Satellite versus terrestrial Freeview

Those with weak signals need to view Freeview through a satellite dish. This method delivers standard definition imagery, even when viewed on a high definition screen. Only those receiving terrestrial signals can benefit from higher resolutions.

Picture-in-picture functionality

When receivers enable this functionality, viewers are able to watch two channels simultaneously on a single screen. Larger monitors or television screens make this more user friendly.

Ultra high definition

Resolutions of 1920 x 1080 become possible through eight megapixel images. 4K displays deliver resolutions of 4096 x 2160. This Ultra HD capacity is ideal for those preparing for 3D television. It is now possible to find 4K displays on smaller screens than before, with some 55 and 56 inch models emerging on the market.

Refresh rates

Screens with high refresh rates are more comfortable on the eye. Those who tend to develop headaches after too much digital viewing may benefit from an improvement in this area.

Plasma, LED, or LCD

Plasma televisions tend to burn images onto the screen, causing a reduction in lifespan. Those who use their screens as computer monitors thus need to avoid these models. LED models are slimmer and more power efficient. Rooms that are particularly bright will receive a clearer picture with brighter plasma technology.

Choose a Recorder Instead of an Inbuilt receiver

PVRs turn basic Freeview receivers into turbocharged tools with immense storage capacities and other worthwhile features. Only a few adaptations ensure that Freeview HD's full potential becomes available.

Two Tuners

This feature not only makes in-picture viewing possible, but also the recording of one channel while watching another.

Hard disk storage

PVRs are all capable of one-touch recording of an entire series. This places a heavier load on storage capacity, so recorders should have at least 500GB of space to store 70 hours of high definition viewing material. Higher-spectrum products allow users to store entire libraries using two terabytes of storage space.

Freeview certification

Recorders that bear the Freeview stamp come with a set of automatically-included features such as the splitting of one programme within a single recording, the ability to automatically record an entire series, pause, and rewind functions mid-broadcast, and the automatic rescheduling of recordings according to changes in broadcasting times.

USB drives

External USB drives allow users to move their HD television recordings onto other media.

HDMI resolution up scaling

PVRs with this feature can transform standard definition recordings into high definition 1080p resolutions on playback.

Web streaming

PVRs with web-based features allow web surfing and streaming of internet-based videos. Audiophiles can also use this function to download and play music.

3D-capable Blu-ray

In preparation for 3D broadcasting, these PVRs are equipped with the ability to play three dimensional Blue-ray discs and shows.

Prepare for Future Programming

In the near future, a number of new broadcasting alternatives will be made available to Freeview fans. Viewers can prepare for them by choosing accessories ahead of release. A few additional components transform a television set into a fully functional entertainment system.

YouView and Sky Boxes

Ethernet connections and HDMI cables are required together with receivers to obtain Sky Entertainment and YouView programming. These boxes allow recording, mid-broadcast pausing, rewinding, and child-filter settings. YouView offers on-demand viewing of films and series without subscription fees, while Sky offers tiered subscriptions for various entertainment packages.

Smart View

This application makes television mobile by streaming it onto cellular phones and tablets.


Freeview televisions can be connected to TiVo using Scart or HDMI cables.

Blue-ray player

A smart 3D-capable Blu-Ray player often comes built into PVRs but it can also be purchased and connected separately. In the latter case, 2D-to-3D conversion and playback becomes possible.

Add 5.1 Digital Surround Sound

A saturated digital viewing experience needs to be backed up by audio that is equally all-encompassing. Surround sound can be mimicked through stereo soundtracks where programming uses Dolby ProLogic encoding. However, in the race to prepare for full 5.1 surround sound, it is worthwhile to set up a high resolution satellite speaker system.

Satellite Speakers

5.1 surround sound demands the use of a centre satellite that expresses soundtracks and dialogue. Right and left satellites are combined with left and right surround satellites which are responsible for expressing directional audio.


Dolby digital requires at least one subwoofer to express low frequencies such as explosions and rumbles. The subwoofer should be sized relative to the satellites so that bass tones don't overwhelm mid-range frequencies. Large rooms need two subwoofers.

Power Amplifier

This component manages each channel individually while providing the power required to transmit frequencies with greater accuracy.

Determine the Appropriate Signal According to Location

An overwhelming majority of consumers receive excellent Freeview signals, but in weak reception zones, aerials need to be added. Those in locations with particularly poor reception can receive standard definition Freeview through a satellite dish.

Inputs and Cables

HDMI cables with HDCP inputs ensure that high definition signals are kept intact without compression and data loss.


A satellite dish needs to be combined with a Freeview Satellite receiver or a recorder with an inbuilt Freeview satellite box. Since satellite delivers only standard definition images, an analogue television screen can be used.

Set top aerial

Coverage areas can improve unreliable reception through a portable set top UHF aerial.

High mast UHF aerial

In low signal areas, a signal amplifier can be combined with a multidirectional rooftop UHF aerial to improve high definition signals.


High definition digital television has added some significant technological changes to home viewing. Recorders allow viewers to pause live broadcasts, record one channel while viewing another, and plan the forthcoming week's viewing eight days in advance. For those motivated enough to create a fully functional high resolution experience, Freeview supports 5.1 surround sound. Large screen high definition imagery, when combined with fully-directional sine waves, immerses viewers into a virtual experience that leaves little need for imagination.

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