Probably one of the most asked question for us is “which is best for us to install Freeview or freesat?”
And the answer is “it depends” and it depends on a good few factors, what channels you wish to view and whether you want as much of them in HD as possible. If cost is an issue then what hardware do you already have installed? How many rooms are being installed? We will cover most of the important questions here and compare and contrast the offerings.
What are freeview and freesat?
Freeview and freesat are the two main free to view TV services in the UK the main difference being freeview is received at your property via a TV aerial and freesat is received via a satellite dish, normally a Sky “mini dish” fitted outside your property.
The channel line ups of freeview and freesat are fairly similar, with some small differences that may be important to you, for example the lack of Dave on freesat may bother some fans of relentless Top Gear reruns. However during the 2012 olympics freesat had a huge mount of HD coverage not available on freeview.
Receiving both of these service is an option for the most of homes within the UK and you would be very unlucky to not be able to receive either.
If you can receive Sky then you can receive freesat the satellite used is and the feeds are exactly the same, if you are unsure of that then a quick look at you neighbors dishes will give you a good idea. However if you have been letdown by Sky and told they cannot get reception all may not be lost as we can install dishes in locations Sky cannot.
The important thing is to get a clear line of sight with the satellite at 28.2 East. This website will help you work out the direction of the sat, dishpointer, just input your postcode and choose 28.2 East from the drop down list, remember any trees and buildings between you and the sat will totally block the signal.
For freeview you can visit DigitalUK and use their postcode checker to see what is available at your address as not all transmitter transmit all the channels.
Hardware required for freeview and freesat.
To receive freeview you require a TV aerial in good condition, normally installed externally cabled to a Digital or freeview branded TV, or an older analogue TV used with a freeview set top box.
For freesat as discussed above you require a mini dish aligned correctly and cabled to a freesat set top box or one of the small number of freesat enabled TVs.
If you are going to record freesat (whilst watching other channels) you will need a freesat+ set top box and twin cables run from the dish directly to the box, whilst recording freeview only requires a single cable from the aerial.
It is normally easier and cheaper to distribute TV around the property using freeview, this is for a few technical reasons, every TV purchased will have freeview inside where as freesat TVs are harder to find, especially in smaller sizes, and are sold at a premium. Also once a clean TV signal is received from a TV aerial you can amplify and distribute the feed quickly and cheaply to multiple rooms. Where as with freesat you may need to buy stbs for every room and unless a reasonably large sum is spent on a commercial system each room would need to be cabled and connected directly to the dish LNB, a satellite TV feed cannot simply be split or tapped off from.
The latest incarnation of freeview and freesat comes equipped with “youview” and “freetime” these are the internet enabled services providing easy access to catchup TV and programming on demand. The best boxes we have found tend to be made by Humax and are available directly from here: HumaxDirect
The cost of installing one of these services needs to be totaled for each property depending on what is all ready installed, for example if you already have a Skydish and no TV aerial then it may well be cheaper for you to just buy a freesat stb rather than a totally new aerial install especially if it is just for one room. However if you are going to be installing feeds to many bedrooms and lounges then the costs will swing back to favor a freeview installation.
As a personal choice I like the offering from freesat so I would choice a freesat+ Humax box with freetime for the main viewing room and have a freeview installation for all the other viewing locations.