Freesat is a satellite TV service that lets you watch digital TV without having to sign up to a monthly subscription. But is it right for you?
If you want more TV channels than Freeview offers, but don't want to sign up to a pay TV service like BT TV (www.BT.com), TalkTalk TV (www.TalkTalk.co,uk), Sky (www.Sky.com) or Virgin Media (www.VirginMedia.com), you may want to consider Freesat.
Freesat offers more TV channels than Freeview, but is also subscription-free, meaning you don't have to commit to a contract or worry about monthly bills.
What is Freesat?
Freesat is a satellite TV service that lets you watch digital TV without having to sign a contract or pay a monthly subscription fee.
Much like Freeview, Freesat customers only have to pay a one-off charge for the equipment needed to receive the service. However, unlike Freeview, where the picture quality and choice of channels you get are dependent on your postcode, Freesat offers every customer the same high-quality viewing experience and extra channels that are not available on Freeview.
Freesat offers over 150 different TV, radio and interactive channels, including high-definition (HD) services from the BBC and ITV. All the existing mainstream channels such as BBC One and ITV come as standard. Web-connected Freesat set-top boxes offering catch-up TV from the BBC, Channel 4 and, in some cases, ITV, are also available.
If you want a little more control over how you watch TV, you might consider upgrading to a Freesat+ box. These let you pause and rewind and record live TV - you can even set them to record every episode of a particular TV series.
Freesat+ with Freetime
Many Freesat+ boxes include freetime - an on-screen TV guide offering more functionality than a standard electronic program guide (EPG). For example, it improves the catch-up TV experience by letting you scroll back through the guide to find a show you missed and then watch it directly rather than having to load up the relevant catch-up service first.
Freetime Showcase automatically gathers together TV highlights on one page, helping you locate the best TV faster.
How do I get Freesat?
Freesat is a satellite TV service, so a satellite dish is required. Viewers can use an existing dish if they already have one from a previous service such as Sky, or they can pay to have one installed. If you live in rented accommodation or own a listed property, check it is OK for you to install a satellite dish before doing so.
Freesat set-top boxes are available both online and in-store from the likes of Argos, Currys and Comet, and also from online retailers like Amazon and Play.com.
What Freesat set-top boxes are available?
To watch Freesat, you'll need a set-top box as well as a satellite dish. Many manufacturers make Freesat boxes, including Bush, Humax and Panasonic. The specific services you get - including catch-up TV - varies from box to box, so check before purchasing.
Freesat boxes fall into four basic categories:
- Standard-definition (SD) - provides over 140 digital TV channels and services
- High-definition (HD) - provides over 140 channels, plus HD from the BBC and ITV
- Freesat+ HD - lets viewers pause, rewind and record both SD and HD programming
- Freesat+ with freetime - lets you pause, rewind and record SD and HD TV and access catch-up TV services
Is Freesat right for me?
If you're looking for a TV service that offers better picture quality and more channel than Freeview, but doesn't tie you ito a monthly contract, then Freesat is a good option. It offers a good range of channels and great picture quality.
However, you need satellite TV equipment to get Freesat, and if you don't already have it, you might find the set-up costs off-putting. If you live in rented accommodation or a listed building you may not be able to have a satellite dish installed. In either case you might want to consider another subscription-free service like YouView.
If you do have satellite TV equipment - perhaps from a previous Sky subscription - Freesat is an affordable way to get a more expansive service than Freeview without getting locked into an ongoing subscription.
However, if you want the biggest possible selection of channels, the leading movies and sports channels or a greater range of catch-up TV you may prefer a subscription TV service like, BT TV, Sky or Virgin Media.
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