Freesat (BBC/ITV) versus Freesat (Sky)

  Pineman100 16:36 05 Nov 2008

I've been following Stuartli's useful thread on the subject of the imminently available Freesat Plus box from Humax. (click here)

I've been trying to work out which way I want to go with a Freesat setup, and I'd be really grateful for any opinions and advice I can get. I apologise if this is rather a long explanation of my situation.

I currently have a Sky subscription. No PVR or HD - just the bog standard box and a dish. I've decided that Sky has just got too expensive, and I therefore want to install a free digital service, with a PVR.

Sky claim that their Freesat service offers 240+ channels, as compared with the BBC/ITV Freesat's 70+ and Freeview's 44.

So - as I see it, here are my options:

1. Install Freesat Plus (BBC/ITV) when it arrives, with a new head on my dish and a second cable. (Or, as my dish is 5 years old, would I be better to put in a completely new dish?)

2. Install Freesat from Sky. But so far as I can see, there's no Sky Freesat box with a hard drive recorder. If I bought a separate hard drive recorder, and had my dish/cabling modified, would I be able to watch one programme while recording another? And would I get a better choice of programmes, including the HD options available via Freesat BBC/ITV??

3. If I decided to forego HD, would I be able to get a Freeview hard drive recorder with two tuners? And would that need two TV aerials?

As you can tell I (a) don't know much about this subject, and (b) don't know which way to jump!

Many thanks for any and all advice.

  tullie 17:13 05 Nov 2008

I believe that if you cancel your Sky subscription,you still have the box,and will be able to acess their free channels anyway.

  Fingees 17:17 05 Nov 2008

I use my old sky box, with a sky card for freesat or as it was called free to air. I got the card for a one off £20 payment a few years ago.

I receive identical freesat channels as a freesat box, albeit perhaps with different numbers.

This give me an advantage that if I want to go back to receiving sky, I can.

I don't at the moment use a hard drive recorder, still using my old tape machine.

All the best.

  Pineman100 17:27 05 Nov 2008

but I am very keen to have a PVR after I cancel my Sky subscription, and I presume that my existing Sky box would not allow me to record one channel while watching another. Unless that's incorrect?

  laurie53 19:19 05 Nov 2008

I'm pretty sure that a Sky+ box requires a Sky subscription to record/playback even if they are FTA programmes.

I think I would just use the Sky box as a tuner and record via scart to an ordinary hard disc recorder, or maybe to dvd or even tape.

You should be able to find a very cheap tape machine.

Let's face it, you've already got a twin tuner, you're just looking for a recording method.

  DieSse 23:15 05 Nov 2008

When you talk about the "Freesat" services, you need to understand that all the channels for both of these come from the same set of satellites at the same position in orbit.

The only real difference is the EPG (Electronic Program Guide) for each service, and how that is setup to interact with the two types of receiver.

There is another alternative - a Free-to-air receiver. These will search for and "lock on to" ALL free and non-encrypted programs from ANY service. And this is without needing to use the somewhat clumsy and very time consuming system to add extra channels to the existing services.

For around £60 a box such as the mVision S4 will do all that, and has it's own internal programme guide, which you can freely modify to suit your viewing tastes.

What's more it also had a built-in USB port for recording, and support for record and playback via the remote. You can even take the USB device out and connect it to a PC if you wish, for playback, as it uses standard video file formats.

A USB stick will record about 1hr per Gigabyte - with 8GB sticks now around £12 - that's low cost and very convenient.

Well worth a look IMO.

  tiscalitrev 09:35 06 Nov 2008


I presume at £60 the mvision is SD not HD, do you know if they do an HD version? and at what cost?

  Pineman100 10:35 06 Nov 2008

That's extremely interesting - many thanks.

Could I please ask you a few more questions?

1. As tiscalitrev asks - can you get an HD version of a box such as yours?

2. Given that I would like to have a PVR and be able simultaneously to watch and record different channels, can such a box also have twin tuners?

3. If there isn't one available with a built-in PVR, presumably you just plug a PVR into the USB port (assuming PVR's have such a port)?

4. Please could you recommend one or two places where you buy such equipment, and who give good advice? It sounds quite specialist and I doubt that the usual Currys or Comet would sell it.

You've set a very interesting new hare running for me! Thank you very much!

  Pineman100 10:43 06 Nov 2008

Diesse - sorry, I have one more question. Does a box such as yours need any kind of card in it to receive the free digital channels? If so, how do you get hold of a card?

  DieSse 11:25 06 Nov 2008

No - it doesn't have a card slot and doesn't need a card.

Although Channel 5 currently need a (free) card - sometime in November that will change and it will become free-to-air too.

  DieSse 11:30 06 Nov 2008

Have a look here for more details

click here

There are other makes of free-to-air receivers too. Turbosat are well known, and would give you more advice by telephone (I'm not connected with them or any other satellite company in the UK).

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