Free Non-Subscription Digital TV Via a Compatible Conventional TV Aerial
Freeview is a non-subscription service, which provides digital television viewing through your existing television aerial. As a means of obtaining digital television programming it is by far the easiest and cheapest – in fact there is no subscription fee for TV channels, you only make a one off payment for the Freeview set top box.
How does Freeview work?
Freeview works via your existing rooftop television aerial. The important aspect to note is that you must have a strong enough television signal for the Freeview set top box to be able to transmit pictures without ghosting or an entire drop out in transmission. The vast majority of people will be able to receive excellent reception through Freeview, although you may need a more powerful rooftop aerial. From 2008 onwards, the UK will begin a schedule of switching the old analogue TV signal over to an entirely digital signal so coverage for Freeview will be even better than the current 75% coverage rate that we have today. Moreover, by 2012 the analogue signal will be switched off completely so in order to view terrestrial television it will be necessary to purchase one of the digital TV options on offer. You can check whether you are in a strong reception Freeview reception area at http://www.freeview.co.uk/availability
Once you have found that you live in an area that can receive Freeview, all you need to do is purchase a Freeview box for as little as £20 and connect the box to your TV and aerial socket and you will enjoy the benefits of digital television.
Freeview boxes can be categorised into three broad categories, Freeview boxes / decoders, integrated Freeview decoders and Digital Recorder Freeview boxes (DVRs).
A standard Freeview set top box will cost between approximately £20 and £100 and is a simple plug and play device that will produce digital television channels as well as digital radio stations. Incorporated into the Freeview system is an Electronic Programme Guide, which will help you to plan your viewing.
A Digital Recorder Freeview box will have the same functionality as the standard Freeview box but it will record programmes to a built in hard drive. These types of set top boxes are more expensive as they can have multiple tuners (this means that you can record one channel whilst watching another) and large hard disks so that you can record 100 hours of television programmes or more. A typical price for a Digital Recorder Freeview box is between the £125 to £225 range.
There are also many new TVs that feature integrated Freeview decoders and if you are considering a new TV in the near future it may be worth looking at these. You should also consider Freesat if you are considering an HDTV as this will allow you to make the most of your new high definition equipment.
Our consumer reviews section contains information on the 26 best set-top boxes as reviewed by Which? – you can get the report direct from Which? for just £1 by clicking here
As the name suggests, the channels on Freeview are entirely free of charge. The only fee you would need to pay is for your Freeview box. The current listing of Digital Television channels and Digital Radio stations on Freeview are as follows –
Digital Television Channels
abc1 (not in Wales)
UKTV Bright Ideas
BBC News 24
Sky Sports News
S4C (in Wales)
Channel 4 (in Wales)
Teletext on 4
TeleG (in Scotland)
S4C2 (in Wales)
Digital Radio Stations
BBC Radio 1
BBC Radio 2
BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 4
BBC Five Live
BBC 6 Music
BBC Asian Network
BBC World Service
The Hits Radio
Radio Music Shop
When you buy Freeview you are not tied into any subscription contracts whatsoever. There is a one off fee for the set top box and that is all you would need to pay (along with your licence fee remember!). Also installation is incredibly easy and should take no longer than a couple of minutes. The selection of channels is by no means comprehensive, however, there are certainly enough to keep you entertained. Freeview is often thought of as an excellent option for a second room in your house due to the low cost and ease of installation.
If you require a no frills digital television service that is easy to set up in minutes, Freeview is the choice for you.
Click here for Freeview equipment and prices.