Help with buying Freeview box

  colin1951uk 12:24 04 Feb 2009

As a complete newbie to digital tv I need some help in choosing a good quality Freeview box as I'm being forced to switch early to digital which I'm very unhappy about.

My the last one to make the digital switch over in 2012. However last Sunday an announcement was made to the effect that analogue Channel 5 transmissions would cease as of March and the station would only be available on digital as of then. The remaining four channels would continue in analogue untill 2012 as originaly set out.

The whole idea is nuts to me and I'm going to try and find out why only 5 is being stopped but I'll probably get fobbed off by a hundred and one excuses..I'll see.

I particularly like Five so I've got no choice but to switch to digital now and I'm getting headaches about choosing the right way to go about it at such short notice.

I don't want paid tv as five main channels is plenty for me and on looking at Freesat they don't do Fiver (a branch of 5) which is something that that would interest me. They may do it in the future but as Freeview do it now I think they are the way for me to go as of now.

I've checked my post code out for Freeview and it tells me I should get everything available as is so hopefully I won't need an aerial upgrade and will just need the set top box.

Being a newbie I know nothing about the boxes so I need some advice on what to look for.

Looking at what Argos and Comet etc do I see a lot of stuff at cheap prices and that worries me because I'm one of those people who thinks you only get what you pay for.

Which online seem to have a buyers guide to boxes but I would need to take out a subs with them to get at it which puts me off so I'm not going down that route.

So what I'm hoping is that a lot of you on here will already be Freeview users and maybe some can tell me which boxes you use, their quality and reliabilty etc and whether as a newbie I could set one up without too much hassle.

Hope you can help me out with this.


  Dizzy Bob 12:30 04 Feb 2009

Hi Colin,

It seems to me that your needs are quite basic, and so a basic box will do fine,

I recently bought a box for my mum who has the same needs as you (basic TV viewing only)

The box was just under £20 from asda, and works like a dream. Easy set up, small size (its about the size of a portable CD player)

It simply connects to the TV with a SCART lead. Set the TV to the AV channel, and use the remote that came with the box.

Easy, cheap, and ideal for what you need.

You do not need to pay any more unless you want PVR (personal video recording) functions.

In this case, i think cheap is fine!

ps. She is also in the Meridian area.

Good luck


  interzone55 12:32 04 Feb 2009

My only advise is to avoid the cheap & cheerful boxes available in the supermarkets. They don't last long.

If you're looking at changing you're TV in the near future then get a cheap box and plug it into your TV's scart to tide you over. Pretty much all new TVs now have freeview tuners onboard.

I've got a Panasonic hard drive Freeview recorder, my model is now discontinued, but newer ones should be just as good.
click here is an example.

Many people on this forum swear by the Humax boxes
click here

  spuds 13:00 04 Feb 2009

I purchased a cheap and cheerful Currys freeview (Matsui) basic box about a couple of years ago. Works like a dream and no tv ariel upgrade.

Get the occasional channel 5 picture break-up, but I put this down to weather conditions and possible 'non-tuned' existing equipment.Not a major problem.

Perhaps worth a mention, most new television now have 'all' the facilities for digital and freeview transmissions, so are ready for the big day. I have recently purchased a Sony Bravia television with all the 'readiness' installed. Got to set it up yet, bit to lazy at the moment:O)

  oresome 13:10 04 Feb 2009

There are one or two features which you may find useful, but will need to search out which boxes have them.

Some STBs can be programmed to switch on at a specific time and channel. Useful if you wish to record programmes.

Some STB remote controls can be programmed to provide basic operation of the TV.

A very few STBs may have a RF modulator. Essential if the TV doesn't have a scart socket.

The layout of the Electronic Programme Guide and it's clarity will differ from make to make.

Most have a separate plug top power supply. These are sometimes of a size that a normal plug won't fit in the other half of a double mains socket.

I'm sure there will be more little differences.

  Stuartli 16:37 04 Feb 2009

You can buy a Grade A Humax 9200TBX (formerly the 9200T) direct from Humax for £126 or £165 new (the T represents twin tuner).

This acts as both a Freeview set top box and a 320GB PVR allowing the recording of two programmes at once if you wish.


click here

click here (choice)

You can, of course, use a normal retail outlet.

A basic Humax Freeview set top box, the F2 FOX-T, is still the benchmark for the genre after being on sale for almost five years; it's more expensive than most other makes, but you get what you pay for.

click here

Just one point - avoid the Scart type Freeview receivers which fit into a TV's Scart socket.

These have proved unsuccessful for many buyers and have the problem, IIRC, of getting quite hot during use.

  caccy 17:16 04 Feb 2009

Check that you have a wideband arial.
Note that there is no such beast as a "freeview arial"

  caccy 17:17 04 Feb 2009

"Arial" should read "aerial"

  colin1951uk 11:35 05 Feb 2009

Well thanks for all the reply folks..certainly opened my eyes somewhat.

I think what I'll do is pop into my local Argos store, buy a box, give it a try and if it doesn't work take it back..the one I'm thinking about can be viewed here click here and it seems very well received by those who've already purchased it.

Just some points I'd like to clarfy from the comments posted if I may:-

Setup..Dizzy Bob said: 'Set the TV to the AV channel, and use the remote that came with the box.' I'm not sure what the av channel is my set as I don't have any documentation and there is nothing obvious on the handset. I believe it to be 0 because thats what's my vcr and dvd player uses when connected with a scart. I always thought a scart connection found a suitable channel automaticaly anyway for appropriate I assume this would be case when using a Freeview box would it not?

Aerial..caccy said: 'Check that you have a wideband arial, Note that there is no such beast as a "freeview arial.' Well as my my postcode checks out as being ok to receive to all available channels do I still have to check my aerial then? My aerial has been there for something like twenty years so it's not a modern high gain type it still could be a problem then?

Also a freind of mine told me last night that digital transmissions are in widescreen format..does that mean 16:9 ratio? I get black bars now on the screen in analogue format but they don't take much of the viewing space away from my standard 14:9 ratio 28inch screen. I can't imagine watching say the News in 16:9 format on my set as it would look very distorted I the boxes allow you to compensate for this sort of thing?

I'm getting there slowly lol.

Cheers all..Colin

  colin1951uk 11:38 05 Feb 2009

OOOps..I think my screen is 14:3 ratio..sorry about that

  colin1951uk 11:41 05 Feb 2009

Or even 4:3 ratio..god I havn't woken up yet..I work night..sorry again.

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