Freesat: first impressions

 We’ve already given you five reasons why Freesat, the new subscription-free hi-def venture from BBC and ITV, is better than Freeview. But now we

We’ve already given you five reasons why Freesat, the new subscription-free hi-def venture from BBC and ITV, is better than Freeview. But now we’ve received our first receiver from Humax, the FOXSAT-HD, and put it through its paces with our good friends at What Hi Fi? Sound & Vision.Things got off to a tricky start for the £150 set-top box which, like all Freesat receivers, needs to be hooked up to a satellite dish. When we connected it to the Sky dish in our test room the Humax had poor signal quality – over the course of two hours, it apparently only worked three times.But it all turned out to be an issue with the Humax sample. Plugged into another Sky connection it worked perfectly, while a second box worked flawlessly, providing Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound from BBC HD via an HDMI connection.BBC HD is currently the only hi-def offering on Freesat, but ITV HD is due to launch soon and will be available as a ‘red button’ service rather than via a dedicated channel. The number of channels is also predicted to rise from 80 to around 200 later this year, which dwarves Freeview's 40-odd channels.The FOXSAT-HD certainly looks to be a promising middle ground between Freeview and Sky’s expensive HD option, although we would have preferred a PVR. Humax has confirmed that it is working one that will launch it in the next few months – in the meantime look out for our full review of the FOXSAT-HD in the next few days. For more on the FOXSAT-HD, check out What Hi Fi’s early test