Today we finally had official launch of Freesat, the new free-to-air digital TV service for the UK.
We Brits can already get Freeview, Sky satellite, cable, mobile TV and web TV - so why should we care about yet another platform? Here's why…
1) It's high-definition You know that lovely LCD telly you bought recently? Well unless you're forking out for paid-for HD channels on Sky or Virgin, you're not making the most out of it. Freesat will offer the BBC HD channel at launch, with ITV HD to come soon. It's likely that C4 HD will make its way onto the platform once its exclusivity deal with Sky runs out this autumn. So, buy Freesat today you'll be able to watch Wimbledon, Euro 2008 and the Olympics in hi-def this summer, without having to pay for a subscription.
2) It's free. Almost. You'll need to buy a Freesat decoding box (Goodmans are offering an standard-def one for £50 and a hi-def model for £120) plus a dish. Expect full installations to set you back £150-200. But once you've bought the Freesat hardware and had it installed, you won't have to pay any subscription. Apart from your TV license.
3) It's top quality Satellite TV has much greater bandwidth than terrestrial - which means the quality of the 80 TV and radio channels available through Freesat will be noticeably better than on Freeview, even at standard definition. That means less artifacts, less smearing and more televisual goodness - 150 channels by next year, apparently.
4) It's multiroom When you have Freesat installed, you can have up to 8 tuners coming off it. Which means you can have independent freesat TVs in six rooms plus a twin-tuner HD PVR in your living room (Humax will be releasing the first Freesat PVR in about 3 month's time). Better get building that extension.
5) It works anywhere Freesat was conceived as a way to bring digital TV to those who couldn't get a Freeview signal. It'll work in rural areas and outlying islands that have never had a sniff of terestrial TV.