Official Freeview HD launch reveals new boxes and new channels

30 Mar 2010

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The official launch of Freeview HD at Channel 4's headquarters saw a number of announcements for the year ahead.

The service will be available in 50% of UK homes in time for the World Cup, which starts on June 11th, with Freeview HD aiming for 90% coverage by 2012 in time for the London Olympics.

You'll need a Freeview HD TV or set-top box to access the content, so you'll be pleased to hear there are a host of new boxes available starting from £100.

"This is the largest and most ambitious launch in our history," says Freeview HD managing director Ilse Howling. But she did admit that she was "sorry" that Five HD would not be available on the platform from launch.

BBC HD, ITV1 HD and C4 HD are confirmed (ITV1 HD and C4 HD will be simulcasts of the standard channels), with the possibility of "two further HD channels to come". 

One of those is expected to be a new BBC HD channel set to launch later this year, the Beeb having picked up the spare slot left empty by Channel Five HD, which will be broadcast on Sky from July. Five HD still hopes to join the Freeview HD service by 2012.

From tomorrow some 4.5 million homes in places such as London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Cardiff, will be able to receive the service, with S4C Clirlun to launch in Wales by the end of April.

A £6m TV advertising campaign kicks off this Easter weekend under the slogan "HD goes Freeview".

Programmes to be broadcast in HD on the service include the new series of Dr Who, Ashes to Ashes, Masterchef, The Apprentice and Britain's Got Talent, as well as key sporting events such as the World Cup, Wimbledon and the Grand National. Even ITV1's Prime Ministerial debate in the forthcoming election will be shown in high definition.

There were a selection of new Freeview HD set-top boxes on display at today's launch:

• i-CAN Easy Freeview HD receiver, available from April, price TBC.

• The first £100 Freeview HD receiver, the Vestel T8300, which may also be sold under other brand names.

• Grundig GUD300HD receiver, available in May for £149.99, and to be sold at Harrods, Selfridges, Argos, Tesco, Costco and QVC.

• Three PVR models from Digital Stream: DHR8203U (320GB HDD); DHR8205U (500GB HDD); and the DHR8202U (250GB HDD). All three will be launched on April 26th at prices from £270 upwards and on sale in Currys and John Lewis.

These are in addition to the already announced Philips, Sharp, Toshiba, Humax and Sagemcom models.  

Watch our video review of the Humax HD-FOX T2 Freeview HD box.

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His The Humax Freeview HD got one or two tuners like the their Freesat unit ?

Bobby X....

No, not with the present playtv as its only dvb whereas the uk will be dvb-t2 for the HD transmissions. Europe can get their HD broadcasts as they are still only dvb.

Will this work with Play tv on PS3?

"Sure, there are some who will never be able to receive a digital terrestrial signal, so they will have to get a satellite dish installed, if they already haven't!"

All very well nigel but they wont have access to  PVRs like the Humax and Sagems. Don't forget Sky charge �10 per month for this facility.

5 years down the line I reckon Freesat will still be here, and as populer as ever.

"hey hey the death of freesat is coming , pity it should have been great but shocking channel line up sealed its doom , watch freeview hd destroy it by xmas , you heard it first"

There will always be Freesat so long as there's Freeview Lite and the fact that some people wont be able to get Freeview of any description post DSO.

In our case Freeview HD will not arrive in parts of NI until March 2013, a wopping 3 years away. Thank goodness for Freesat then.

Bah! we won't get Freeview HD until 2012 here in the Rowridge transmitter region.

I'm not so convinced that Freesat has a long term future.  It may well be (at the moment) that the BBC, ITV, CH4 and Five have to provide post-digital switchover access for all, but times change and so does the opinion of those in power!

Sure, there are some who will never be able to receive a digital terrestrial signal, so they will have to get a satellite dish installed, if they already haven't!

It would've made much more sense for the BBC, ITV, CH4 and Five to have rolled out a deal with Sky for those people who didn't want pay-TV.  Maybe competition bureaucrats wouldn't like all the TV companies working together for the common good?

To me, the choices are simple.  You either subscrive to Sky or cable OR you have Sky basic/free for the cost of installation and a set top box OR the majority will be happy with Freeview (HD).

How much public money has been wasted setting up another white elephant (Freesat)?

...It sounded like a good idea at the time!

Even ITV, late as ever, have realised that they had to put ITV HD on Sky HD!

P.S. I've seen some broadcasts on BBC HD on the new Panasonic 42in G20 plasma, and although not up to BBC HD quality on Sky HD, they are respectable quality to say the least.  I'm sure many new converts to HD via Freeview will be more than happy (and notice the difference from SD pictures)!?

Yep, GC1 - Freeview HD only has capacity for 36-40mbps bandwidth, which restricts its HD capabilties to a maximum of five channels for several years to come.

Freesat has no such restrictions...but doesn't have the budget to go chasing channels first!

remember chaps freeview has a limited on H.D. available , freesat doesn't ,also knowing how many people still have issues with s.d reception on freeview I'm not so  optimistic for  freeview hd . i would hang on to your freesat for a while  !!!

neil e - Freesat is going nowhere. For starters, the broadcasters have to provide digital access to their channels post-switchover, and for those locations that simply can't get a good-enough signal via an aerial, Freesat is the only option.

Also, from our tests so far Freesat offers better-quality than Freeview HD on the same broadcasts - codecs/bandwidth differences, y'see...

Cinema Paradiso - yes, it's already up and running in Greater London. We've been viewing it very happily here in Teddington!

When I put in my postcode (London), the freview website says service available from December 2009. Is this meant to be '2010'?? or is it already available in London???


Neil e youare so right those of us who invested have been sold down the river, there is no way that C4HD should be on freeview prior to freesat. anyone interested in a low mileage foxsat hdr!

hey hey the death of freesat is coming , pity it should have been great but shocking channel line up sealed its doom , watch freeview hd destroy it by xmas , you heard it first