Freesat launches new Free Time smart TV guide

Freesat has launched its latest generation smart TV guide, called Free Time, with the launch of a new Humax Freesat+ Free Time set-top box.

The service - which Freesat strictly-speaking refers to as <free time> -allows you to move 'earlier' and 'later' through a slick new interface, making it easy to instantly watch catch-up TV content via BBC iPlayer and ITV Player.

Scrolling back through programmes you've missed allows you to instantly click and watch content using the embedded catch-up TV services in a similarly seamless way as Freeview service YouView.

The new EPG launches with BBC iPlayer and ITV Player integrated, and says that 4OD and Demand 5 will go live before Christmas.

Other services, such as streaming music and movie services, are said to be in the pipeline - with rumours suggesting Netflix will be a partner very soon - but Freesat has said that as yet nothing is confirmed.

Set to be available on a new generation of Freesat+ boxes – but not as an update to existing Freesat+ boxes – the new Free Time TV guide will roll out across other boxes from partners Manhattan, Philips and Sagemcom later this year.

Elsewhere the service also has an at-a-glance 'Now and Next' screen, a Showcase section for recommended content, a three-line pop-up menu option for browsing the EPG without taking up the whole screen and a redesigned, easier to use Recordings section.

This Humax Freesat+ Free Time box, out at the end of the month for £279, launches with a 500GB hard disk drive and full PVR functionality, as well as the new Free Time smart TV guide. A 1TB box is set to follow soon after launch.

This box is ethernet-only, though Freesat told us that more boxes would launch very soon and a WiFi-box was likely.

Also promised in the near future is a Freesat Free Time app for smartphones and tablets bringing remote record and remote control functionality to your portable device.

Freesat recently hit 1.5m users and has sold more than 2.6m Freesat receivers, with the service offering 150 channels including 5 HD channels.

Some 14m homes in the UK are said to have a satellite dish, with Freesat no doubt targetting people not only who can't get Freeview but those who no longer want to pay for Sky TV.

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Joe Cox
Content Director

Joe is the Content Director for What Hi-Fi? and Future’s Product Testing, having previously been the Global Editor-in-Chief of What Hi-Fi?. He has worked on What Hi-Fi? across the print magazine and website for almost 20 years, writing news, reviews and features on everything from turntables to TVs, headphones to hi-fi separates. He has covered product launch events across the world, from Apple to Technics, Sony and Samsung; reported from CES, the Bristol Show, and Munich High End for many years; and written for sites such as the BBC, Stuff, and the Guardian. In his spare time, he enjoys expanding his vinyl collection and cycling (not at the same time).