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      29.04.2011 19:37
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      Couhc potato time

      From May 1st (Monday) pretty much all of Eastern Europe can legally come to Britain and claim benefits with the ending of the EU qualification rules, the next 12 months being a defining time in the debate to see if third world benefit tourism is indeed real. For the traditional terrestrial TV channels it's a similar confrontation as the nation is forced to go digital, the moment to find out if the BBC and the like can compete with another 50 free channels in everyone's front room and so needed anymore, especially the license fee. Just as it will be the beginning of the end for the liberal consensus that third world immigration is good for the UK it will hopefully be the same clarity on the license fee, one tax too far in this multi channel world we live in and so also sent packing. Guys, I just don't think the BBC can justify four TV channels anymore and its time to half their act as most of their content is repeated anyway. ITV should be dumped full stop!

      As you know, most of Britain is now digitally wired up with just one more chunk to go before the big switch on is complete, 2012 seeing the analogue signal turned right down and the whole of the nation given access to freeview through a digital signal (in theory), Freeesat, Sky and Virgin etc through the clumsy white dish, if you so choose. It will signal the end (excuse the pun) of high street DVD rental and record stores for me as the nation increasingly flicks away to its hearts content on the sofa and so encouraged to buy all their movies and sports online and through cable, that sofa increasingly magnetic. I know it has already changed my viewing habits in such a short time and I haven't rented from Blockbusters since we were fully online on March 30th. There is always something to tape or watch on freeview.

      If you are not yet digital don't worry as the switch on is fairly straight forward and not too expensive. Once you have a digital box installed in your old telly it should get some sort of signal off your old aerial. There is no need to buy a new telly. Most of the new flat screen tellies have the digital receivers built in and so easy plug and play but the external box option is no real hassle. The hype and misinformation has been so big on what kit you will need for digital you have all seen those old tellies being dumped outside people's houses that will no doubt shrink the ozone some more from various gases in the old tubes.

      To run more than one TV you may need a new aerial and a splitter box on the roof (or in the attic) that will cost a bit but the basic digital boxes are very cheap, a good opportunity to spend your dooyoo/amazon vouchers, set-top boxes starting around twenty quid, allowing you to only record the channel you are watching on though. If you want to watch one channel and record another the cost of the box does raise radically and you are looking at £120 plus, Humax the preferred brand. But with so many channels to watch and everything looped and repeated and the plus one hour on option thing there on ITV and C4...the need to record is greatly reduced.

      Freeview is a revelation once you are up and running, always something to watch in the evening and never a dull hour. I refuse to watch general daytime TV on principal unless its sport and the BBC's red button service certainly improves your sports viewing, the world snooker constantly streamed on channel 301 right now. The frustration of Hazel Irvine announcing that BBC2 viewers are now going to a repeated gardening or makeover show at the climax of an exciting match or frame are a thing of the past as you can quickly flip to the live feed on channel 301, watching two matches at once if you so chose. It's the same for golf and grand prix and a real plus for sports fans.

      I have a total of 67 channels and a surprising 24 radio stations, although energy conscious enough not to 'watch' radio on TV. I was surprised that 'CNN' and 'Gold' weren't available in our region but pleased with what I got, Dave and More4 a real plus. ITV 4 has the IPL cricket league every afternoon and Channel 5, a terrestrial channel the Midlands have been denied from day one of its half-assed launch, has the rather excellent Walking Dead on it. Sadly its Jean Claude Van Dame movie season, coming straight off the back of the Steven Seagal season, Channel Five very ladish.

      In the evening Freeview really comes into its own as you find the principal terrestrial channels would repeat a lot of content and so you had a lot of dross at primetime. I turn off the TV when there's nothing ringed in my TV guide and retreat to Radio 5. Now, of course, I can reach for the remote and click away until something pops up and job done. Yesterday we had the Heavy Rock top 100 on C4 Music and some Red Dwarf repeats on Viva. Most of the comedy content is repeated on freeview channels and most of those channels wouldn't function without that stuff they bought in from the big players. BBC3 are the worst culprits, only so many times you can watch Top Gear and Russell Howard reruns!

      For the more serious minded anything with '4' on the end offers more intelligent telly, Film and More4 alongside BBC4 excellent for that. BBC4 is non stop documentaries, only last night two intriguing ones about nuclear power and disasters, right on the pulse for contemporary stuff. More4 throws up sharp American satire like the Daily Show and all three offering clever foreign films.

      The Royal Wedding was the true test of Freeview; the straight males of the species afforded the chance to seek sanctuary with alternative TV channel viewing (that's if the weren't the designated drivers down to London), as gay men...mums...daughters and sisters sobbed away inside. AT the peak of the ceremony I managed to find the Robot Wars Final on 'Dave', a show I have really missed since it left BBC2, and the snooker on 301, young Judd Trump a revelation this year, suitable distractions from Westminster Abbey. The main channels, as you would expect, had the weeding feed but if I wanted to watch an arranged wedding I would have gone to my local Hindu temple! The whole thing was just too political for me, coming next to the elections and not inviting the ex Labour Prime Ministers the way they did, and so just an exercise in backing up the Royal Families Tory principals and so not democratic and for the nation. Most of the dictators that supply us with oil seemed to get a ticket for the Abbey and it's wrong to distance Blair because of Iraq, an oil war he didn't want to fight and only did on behalf of the very establishment gathering in Westminster Abbey! She did look beautiful though and you do want this one to work out, the body language much better than 30 years ago.

      Other channels of note are the English version of Al Jazzera and a rather pointless Russian news station that's in the Queens English. There are tons of those tiresome shopping channels for menopausal women to buy crap on and the occasionally interesting show on the various documentary and living channels like Quest. You can delete channels you don't want (the Craft channel) and list your favourites through your remote control to thin out the junk. There are naughty channels but we know how poor British porn is and so nothing to excite you there guys. But if you are under 17 and want to see naughty bits, if you flick on at about 4am you get to see preview shows of all the wobbly bits you are not allowed to see on normal telly!

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        19.09.2010 18:19
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        Check out what Freeview offers and decide if it will keep your viewing habits satisfied

        Freeview is a great way to watch televison at minimal cost. Freeview is all the popular terrestrial channels plus a few more, approx 60 TV channels and 24 Radio Stations.
        The good thing about Freeview is once you have bought the Freeview box, which can be anything from £20 upwards thats all you have to pay, apart from your licence fee obviously.
        There's enough on here to keep you amused, BBC 1,2,3 and 4, ITV 1,2,3,4 plus C4, E4, More4 and Five and Five US as well as Virgin 1 or Channel 1 as it's now called along with a few additional channels including some shopping amd music channels.

        To obtain a good picture you must match your aerial to your signal area, too weak or strong a signal and your viewing pleasure will suffer, you can visit the Freeviw site and input your postcode which will give you coverage details and advise on your aerial reception.

        Obviously the choice is nothing like Sky or Cable etc. but then neither is the price so if like me you found the monthly payments a bit excessive then Freeview is definatley worth considering.
        I love my Sci-Fi so at first I really missed my Sky 1 but now I don't give it a second thought. Even if you have something like Sky it is worth considering Freeview just for a bedroom TV again saving paying any multiroom fees from other providers.

        If you have Sky already and are considering giving it up by far the best option however is not Freeviw but Freesat, all that happens is you phone Sky and cancel your subscription (prepare for a fight, they really don't like to see you go) and ask them to provide you with a Freesat card. They keep this really quiet but Sky are obliged to give you one of these and they used to be free however ther may be a charge of around £10 now, I'm not sure.
        The benefits are you still use your Sky Box and Satellite Dish so picture quality is still excellent but you no longer pay any subcription fees to Sky, it's all free just like Freeview except you have access to 200 TV Channels instead of 60 odd. Admittedly many of the channels are not much use to you, some are simply shopping channels or foreign language but others will be of some use and at least your choice is broadened.

        My only criticism of Freeviw is channels like ITV2, and Dave etc. have been rehashing the same old stuff for years now, ITV 2 will show a movie one night then include it again in an action week special then churn it out again a month later as a season of movies dedicated to a certain leading actor. There's also not much in the way of cartoons to keep youngsters happy.

        My advice is to check out whats on offer and then decide if you think your viewing would be satisfied by Freeview, if it can then go for it and stop those monthly payments, I saved almost £500 a year when I switched.
        You could even just use it for an upstairs bedroom TV and save on multi-room payments

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          11.05.2010 19:26
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          A great free TV service which will suit many people just fine

          Freeview has been around for a number of years now (since 2002) and is the largest digital TV service in the UK. Ofcom recently reported that around 18 million homes in the UK have Freeview.

          I've always had access to Freeview but, before i moved house 6 months ago, always used my Virgin Media cable TV as my primary TV service - primarily because it had a wider range of channels and on demand service.

          However, since i've moved i have considered getting another pay TV service but as yet havent needed to as Freeview seems to suit my needs well.

          Channels:
          There are around 50 digital TV channels on Freeview and 24 digital radio stations. All these channels are free to view, all you need is a digital terrestrial receiver (built in to most new TVs or a set top box available from any electronics store for around £30). You do of course still have to pay your TV licence but get far more channels, at far greater picture quality than the old analogue signal.

          Channels include all the BBC channels, ITV channels, C4, E4, Film 4, Five, Fiver, Dave, Virgin 1. There are also childrens channels (CBeebies, CBBC and CITV), Music channels (4 Music, Viva) and News channels (Sky News, Sky Sports News, BBC News, CNN, as well as some other specialist channels.

          Other Services:
          Freeview also includes 24 digital radio channels, digital teletext services from ITV and BBC and also NHS direct.

          Set Up:
          Freeview is very easy to set up, its literally plug and play. The on-screen set up instructions in most boxes will lead you through tuning channels, etc. Periodically, when a new channel is launched, you may need to re-tune your box/TV to receive it but again your manual will tell you how to do this.

          Signal Coverage:
          Signal coverage can vary, you can check the signal in your area on the Freeview website.

          Summary:
          Whilst you do get more channels on pay TV services (e.g. Sky, Virgin Media) you do pay quite alot for the priviledge. If, like me, you mainly watch the BBC and Channel 4 channels there's no real need to go for a PAy TV service as Freeview covers the bases. That said, i do miss Sky 1, but not enough to get a pay TV service!

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          06.03.2010 17:01
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          The best digitial deal available.

          I had intended to write a review about Freesat HD TV but as there is no category (I've just made a suggestion) I've decided to write about Freeview as a precursor.

          I think Freeview is one of the best advancements in TV viewing in recent years. It is a useful and necessary alternative to Sky satellite and Virgin cable paying TV broadcast packages. In the early days you needed to buy a set top box in order to view the digital channels but nowadays all new TVs have digital processing built in. Since the launch of Freeview in 2002 it has become the UK's most popular digital TV service. More than 18 million homes currently have Freeview.

          Freeview is a digital terrestrial platform that offers up to 50 digital TV channels and 24 radio stations without subscription for free. Of course you still need a TV license so to some extent you are paying for it. Out of all the TV channels on offer I would say only about a dozen or so are really worth viewing, but still plenty to choose from. The traditional terrestrial channels remain the best in my view: BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. BBC4 is probably the best of the new digital channels to come along with some quality documentaries and arts programming to be found. Although it has to be said that a lot of the BBC4 programming is broadcast on BBC2 at a later date. You can also find some decent viewing on ITV4 and BBC News. CBeebies is good for the kids especially as you can avoid indoctrinating them with loads of advertising. The music channels don't interest me much as they offer little choice. They tend to dominated by chart music, R&B or hip hop and are too often full of distracting screen pop-ups which just get on my nerves. The remainder are made up of shopping channels, those channels showing old repeats such as ITV3, and those dominated my trashy American TV such as Virgin1. Five USA and Fiver contain nothing but junk and often rely on old thin screen formats with a poor quality picture.

          What's missing?
          Personally I would like to see a few foreign speaking channels, especially from the rest of Europe, just to get a different perspective on things as well as being able to practice my French and German. Another quality Film channel alongside Film4 wouldn't be a bad idea either. Trying to see a decent film on TV these days is an increasingly difficult task. There should also be more quality local TV channels in which more local people can participate although it is understandable that financing such projects would be difficult.

          Coming soon is Freeview HD offering HD quality broadcasting. It seems however that you will need to buy another type of set top box or a Freeview HD integrated TV - this will be a pain for all those (like me) who have just bought a Freesat HD integrated TV.

          So although it's not perfect, Freeview is in my opinion by far the best deal when it comes to digital viewing at present. As a free service it undoubtedly offers far better value than Sky.

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            24.02.2010 12:30
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            a great way to continue getting tv for a small price

            Free view is great, you get clear crisp channel views of any of the channels airing in your area and there are so many free ones how can you complain.

            There are also the basic terrestrial channels one two three four and five as well as a whole host of others like e4 itv2 and dave to name a few.

            Very little hassle is needed for a freeview box to work an aerial that will pick up a digital reception and a tv. If you want to record from the freeview you will need to link it too your video which is very simple instead of putting the scart into the tv put it into the video instead.

            Every so often it would be a good idea to reboot your freeview box as new channels are arriving all the time.

            All boxes are different but most have a tv guide listing telling you what is on tv for free no need for a paper tv guide.

            Only downsides you cannot watch one channel and tape another and
            planes may interfere with the signal as well as bad weather.

            Apart from that it's a good choice as all terrestrial telly has either been turned off or will be soon this is the cheapest option as some boxes cost as little as £15 and within hours you will have your box completly set up.

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              29.01.2010 00:00
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              Definately worth getting if you don't want to shell out loads for good TV

              A couple of years ago, I lived with my mum and we had Sky TV, which I loved. I'd sit for hours on end watching all sorts of things. However, I then moved in with my dad, and he told me he did not have Sky in his house. My heart sank. I'd become so addicted to it, I didn't know how I'd ever live without it!

              However, I soon settled in to my new home and noticed we had freeview. I'd never used it before and was skeptical about it, as I automatically assumed that, since it was free, it was going to be totally rubbish.

              I then flicked through the digital TV guide and was amazed by the amount of decent channels which were included on freeview, such as E4, ITV2, Film4 and Dave. I was pleasantly surprised and found the transition from Sky to Freeview so much easier than I originally anticipated.

              I don't really miss Sky, but it is a nice treat when I go to visit my mum.

              I think Freeview is a great product. You don't usually get anything very great for free these days; but with Freeview, you definately do. Although the Freeview box is a one-off payment of around £20, but that's a small price to pay for free entertainment for as long as you want it!

              9/10 for Freeview!

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              12.01.2010 14:30
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              A fine alternative

              Although I have Sky+, I also own a Freeview box from when I lived away at Uni and couldn't afford Sky. While it will always be the lesser choice to Sky's epic selection of programming, it is still incredible how much diverse content there is given that all you have to do is pay the paltry £30 for the Freeview box! Freeview is digital like Sky, meaning that you get crystal clear picture quality, and as a result of jostling between Sky and Freeview, this means I haven't seen an analogue signal in about a decade now!

              This really is designed with the lamen in mind, for all you have to do is plug it into your TV via a scart lead and you're done. There's no messing around with phone lines as Sky will try to convince you to, and it is incredibly easy to get going. Once it's plugged in, you'll be advised to scan for channels, and then the box should automatcally find and tune them in for you, leaving you with a wealth of cheap entertainment. Here are my favourite channels:

              Sky News = the best news channel in the world for free! It is incredibly comprehensive and superbly presented.

              E4 = a great collection of teen-based programming, from Smallville to Skins.

              Film4 = the best film channel there is (even better than Sky), Film4 have a lot of new films (and I believe they are showing Slumdog Millionaire already!), and strike a fab balance between old, classic cinema and more modern films.

              This is a brilliant and cheap way to get more out of your TV if you can't afford Sky, and will keep you far more entertained than the "big five" ever could have (although they are also on here if you want them!).

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              16.12.2009 17:27
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              Switch to digital!

              I live in Manchester and the digital switchover took place at the beginning of December. This meant that the analogue signal that used to transmit BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 to homes around the region was switched off and everybody had to buy a Freeview box in order to watch television.

              Although I knew the switchover was happening, there wasn't much information about why. However I have since found out that this is because the television companies couldn't transmit any other channels using the analogue signal and it has now become obsolete.

              Personally I can't afford to have Sky or cable television, so Freeview is perfect for me because I get to watch extra channels for free.

              You can pick up a freeview box for as little as £20 and once you have purchased it you can watch ITV2, E4, Virgin1, Film 4, BidTV, QVC, BBC3, BBC4,TMF, 4Music, Dave, Quest, CBBC, Sky News, BBC Parliament, CNN, Russia Today, More 4 and a number of "plus one " options (this mean s that programmes are transmitted an hour later on another channel so you can watch a programme if you missed them previously). As well as these television channels you also get a large selection of digital radio channels.

              I am really impressed by Freeview because I can usually find something to watch, as I have a larger range of channels to choose between. Personally I watch ITV2, BBC3, More 4 and Dave more than the other channels. I like to catch films and Coronation Street repeats on ITV2, documentaries on BBC3, Brothers and Sisters (which is one of my favourite programmes) on More Four and comedy on Dave. I also like to switch the news channels on and watch while big news stories break.

              If your region is due to switch to digital, then I advise you to start shopping for Freeview boxes now. There are so many available on the market, that have all sorts of features, so it is best to take your time and choose one that meats your requirements, instead of impulse buying a few days before the switchover.

              Freeview is great, five out of five stars from me!

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                12.12.2009 09:26
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                Free Digital TV

                As everyone is now no doubt aware analogue signals for television transmissions are being phased out and replaced with Digital ones. Within the next few years the only way you will be able to watch any programmes on your TV will be via some sort of digital receiver and the cheapest way to maintain this is via Freeview.

                Unlike Sky or Cable who charge a subscription Freeview as the name indicates is free, all that is required is a set top box that is connected to an outside aerial and Digital TV channels are beamed into your home via this technology.

                I subscribed to both Sky and Virgin for a number of years before getting fed up for paying for something I rarely watched and made the decision to switch to Freeview only last year. I bought a cheap box from Tesco for less than £20.00 and set it up in my living room in less than 5 minutes and I have to say, I would never go back to Sky or Virgin again.

                I now have a choice of over 40 television channels with Freeview and I am impressed with the selection available, in addition to the terrestrial channels you would expect to find like BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five you also get the full range of sister channels to the main 5 including ITV 2, 3 & 4 More 4, Film 4 and Five USA and Fiver. In addition to these you get a selection of shopping and children's channels and even radio stations to choose from. After paying for the box there really isn't any more outlay and you can sit back and watch your favourite channels without any hassle.

                In addition to the channels available you will find an onscreen TV guide that lets you view the days programs and also allows you to see what is coming on for the rest of the week, depending on the make and model of your receiver you may be able to view listings further ahead and you are able to select TV programs that you want to be reminded to watch. When it comes to the time for your program to come on up pops a box onto the screen telling you that it's on, so if you are bad with your memory or don't want to miss something it's a handy facility to use.

                Depending on where you are in the country then reception may be an issue for you and until the official switchover takes place you may want to check that you can actually pick up a digital reception, the Freeview website: www.freeview.co.uk has a coverage checker set up where you can input your postcode and it will tell you if the service is available to you.

                As with all technology there are always advancements and Freeview is no different; as well as the standard set top box you can buy there has been the recent Freeview + launch which allows you to be able to record television programs onto your box for later viewing. I don't have this yet so can't comment on its reliability or how it actually works but would consider upgrading to a new box in time.

                All in all I do rate Freeview and it is in my opinion a necessity if I want to carry on watching television. The digital switchover is going to happen at some point so this is the very minimum you will need in the future. For me who doesn't watch that much TV anyway it is ideal and I would definitely recommend the service and the choice of TV channels it offers.

                For less than £20.00 the boxes are unobtrusive and very easy to set up and install and are available from electrical stores and supermarkets.

                For me Freeview rates 5/5 Dooyoo stars, I wouldn't be without it now.

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                  09.12.2009 15:49
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                  In summary, 8 out of 10.

                  I have owned a Freeview box for a number of years now and am very impressed with what you get for such a low price.

                  Freeeview is a service which provides extra digital channels to your television and of course you will be able to use this still when the analogue signal is turned off and we are all digital!!

                  The Freeview boxes are quite small in stature, my particular model is a Sagem which I got from Argos for about £20. They are available with differenct features with different prices and mine is a bog standard model with a remote control.

                  Most electrical stores sell them and they can cost between £15 and £40 depending on make and model.

                  The Freeview box requires plugging into the mains electricity sockets and all you need is a scart lead in order to connect the box to the back of the telly, it is so easy it is childsplay!!

                  Periodically it will be advantageous to update the box which again is just to easy, within the box settings accessed via the remote control you can select update and the box will retune itself finding new channels along the way if any are available.

                  The standard terrestrial channels are available as well as=
                  Channels plus 1 eg Channel 4 plus 1 hour in case you miss programmes
                  Channel Dave
                  ITV2
                  E4
                  Virgin1
                  BidTV
                  QVC
                  BBC3, 4
                  TMF
                  4Music
                  Home
                  Quest
                  CBBC Channel
                  Sky News
                  BBC Parliament
                  CNN
                  Russia Today (?!)
                  More 4

                  Amongst many other channels and a large selection of digital radio channels.

                  Some of the channels are completely rubbish but the hidden gems here are your E4, 4+1, Channel Dave, but of course it depends what you like to watch. The variety of extra channels is small but I think there is about 40 channels now to choose from and of course the digital radio through your telly is brilliant.

                  For the price of a freeview box I do not see why everyone who does not have satellite or cable television shouldn't have one of these, as there is bound to be at least 5 channels what you will enjoy watching and of course it gives extra choice when there really is nothing available to watch and there is bound to be something on that you want to watch.

                  In summary I think would make a great gift for someone who only has the terrestrial channels but I think most homes now have access to more channels than the basic.

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                  09.12.2009 12:27
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                  very good free television service

                  In the past if you did not subscribe for paid television then you only had five channels to choose from originally-BBC One and Two, ITV, Channel Four and Five. Since October 2002 the Freeview service has allowed anyone with a television set to access free-to-air digital TV channels, radio stations and interactive services through an aerial. Freeview is managed by DTV Services Ltd, a company that is owned and run by its five shareholders - BBC, BSkyB, Channel 4, ITV and Arqiva.

                  If you have a digital television set which was bought quite recently it is most likely that Freeview will be inbuilt into the set already and all you will have to do is connect it to an aerial. For older analogue sets which do not have a built in digital tuner, you will have to purchase a digital set top box (digibox). You can probably buy one of these for around £20 or less.

                  There are a wide range of extra channels on offer once you have freeview. These include the normal extra entertainment channels such as BBC3 and Four, ITV 2,3 and 4, E4 as well as a number of others. There are also channels such as Channel 4+1. This channel shows what is also on channel 4 but is 1 hour behind so allows you to watch a programme if you missed it when it was on a little earlier. There are Childrens channels such as CBBC and Cbeebies. News channels include the likes of Sky news, BBC News 24 and Sky Sports News. There are also music channels such as 4Music and TMF. In addition to this there are channels where you can listen to digital radio stations such as Radio 1, BBC World Service and Talk Sport. For a full list of channels and details you can go here:

                  http://www.freeview.co.uk/freeview/Channels

                  Overall Freeview is a good service and allows people who are unwilling or unable to pay for subscription television services to have quite a few extra channels. There are a number of good channels. I tend to use Sky Sports News quite a bit as well as some of the music channels. ITV also broadcasts some football matches on their other channels such as ITV2 and four. E4 is good entertainment channel and has a number of good shows especially American ones. The +1 channels are also useful if you have missed a programme or missed the start of one and want to watch from the beginning. Some of the channels are not so great and I am not really a fan of the shopping channels and some others which have been put in. Freeview though is a good service and highly recommended for those who have yet to get it. Recently they have introduced HD channels on Freeview and this is something that is set to become more widespread in the near future. Also there was a recent re tune of channels to free up frequency in order to introduce these new channels but there have been some problems with this for some people.

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                  07.12.2009 19:32
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                  The future of free-to-air TV

                  We've had our TV service delivered by Virgin Media and its predecessors (Cabletel, :ntl...) for over 10 years now so you might be wondering why I should be bothering about writing a review of Freeview since I can clearly get all the Freeview channels and more with our cable service! Well, let's say that in the past, and even occasionally today, the cable service has proved less than reliable. Don't get me wrong, the service we get from Virgin Media is an order of magnitude better than either of the previous companies but, still, there are times when the picture freezes for no apparent reason and it's then that we swap over to Freeview.

                  We started off with Freeview set-top converter boxes attached to our old TVs, all but one of which were the old "square" screen models. These boxes were cheap but mostly did the job. I've reviewed most of them here on Dooyoo. About a year ago I bought a flat-screen TV with a built-in Freeview tuner and that is what we mostly use today, connected to a VirginMedia V+ box. The service that they provide is satisfactory but even on the old TVs it was evident that the quality of the picture received via Freeview is not up to that of the equivalent provided via cable.

                  This is nothing to do with the quality of the set-top boxes but everything to do with the way that the picture and sound are digitally encoded for transmission. From the start, Freeview encoded the signal using a now very out-of-date algorithm whereas Virgin uses a much more recent and far higher quality algorithm for the signal which it sends down its fibre-optics. The old algorithm is not only inferior in quality but it takes up far more room in the frequency spectrum, and I'll come back to why this is important later.

                  All TV free-to-air services are going digital by 2012 at the latest and by then all analogue TV broadcasts will be switched off. This may already have happened in the area in which you live. Analogue TV broadcasts only BBC1 and 2, ITV and Channels 4 and 5 plus the local regional variants such as S4C. It also doesn't broadcast a wide-screen signal so if you've got a wide-screen TV, the analogue picture will not fill the screen area. It will also be noticeably poorer in quality.

                  Switch over to the digital Freeview tuner though and immediately you see the improvement. The picture is much better and so is the sound. What's more, you get loads more channels to watch than just those mentioned above. You get three more BBC channels (3, 4 and News24), three more ITV channels (2, 3 and 4) plus such oddities as Dave, Dave ja vu, Viva and Quest, a whole bunch of shopping channels, our elected representatives (MPs) in the Houses of Parliament, broadcast live and much more besides. You also get a whole load of radio stations, many of which might otherwise be outside of your reception area. Whether or not you consider this an improvement is a matter of taste; at least you get the choice.

                  Other things you get with Freeview is things like on-screen TV guides with the ability to pre-set automatic switches of channels when programmes start on channels other than the one you are currently watching. Many Freeview set-top boxes and even some Freeview enabled TVs also have the ability to digitally record TV programmes for later viewing, using a hard drive identical to the sort found in your computer. Some can even record more than one programme at a time, whilst at the same time watching yet another channel.

                  What you don't get is any High Definition (HD) channels and this is the reason for this review. Yes, there are Freeview set-top boxes that up-scale the signal to HD standards but that doesn't give you any extra channels and even this is not as good as the genuine HD programme broadcasts. But, all that is just about to change, which is why I caution you to hesitate if you are considering buying a new set-top box or a new wide-screen TV for Christmas. You could be about to make a big mistake if you buy now. However, if you are prepared to buy what will very shortly become an obsolete model, you could get yourself a hell of a bargain.

                  A couple of months ago the TV broadcasters started shuffling the digital TV channels around. You may remember that you were told to retune your Freeview receivers because some of the channels would no longer be available where they used to be. The reason that they were doing this was to free up the frequency spectrum for the new Freeview HD services. These new channels are to start to be broadcast this month and will be rolled out nation-wide with total coverage by the time of the start of the 2012 Olympics.

                  That's the good news. The bad news is that because the new HD channels will be broadcast encoded using the same high quality algorithm that Virgin Media uses for its cable TV service, none of the existing Freeview set-top boxes or TVs with built-in Freeview receivers, even HD TVs, will receive the new HD channels, nor will they be upgradeable to do so either. You will require either a new set-top box which is Freeview HD enabled or a TV similarly provided.

                  If this is not a big issue then the good news is that all the existing set-top boxes and TVs will continue to receive all of the existing Freeview TV channels. That's why the channels were shuffled around, so as to ensure that that would be the case. So, you do not have to go out and buy any new equipment if you don't want to. You can wait until next year when the initial premium you will undoubtedly have to pay for Freeview HD enabled equipment comes down to more reasonable prices.

                  So, there you have it. Freeview is a definite step up from the "traditional" TV that we've had since the end of WWII. The new Freeview HD service is yet another advance and one to be welcomed. Fortunately, those who decide how these advances will be rolled out have not rendered everyone's TV equipment obsolete overnight, which is to be applauded.

                  However, the benefits to the broadcasters that the new transmission algorithm offers will almost certainly eventually be extended to the existing channels as the pressure to broadcast even more channels builds up. Currently the frequency spectrum is pretty well full. Rolling out the new algorithm across the board will free up much more space. At that time, all existing digital TV equipment will also become obsolete, just as with all existing analogue TV.

                  So, you have been warned. The decision is yours.

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                    04.12.2009 18:23
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                    Free TV

                    We have been using freeview for so many years and we're one of those satisfied customer so we got another one for our bedroom which only cost us £18. It's the cheapest one from tesco, and the brand is called dion. Well I'm honestly not familiar with that name but I don't mind the brand really as long as it works. The good thing is it's quite better and smaller than our old freeview box.

                    FREEVIEW
                    It's a digital television that comprises of more channels than regular terrestrial television in UK (BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5). It offers over 40 of the best free to air channels and over 20 digital radio stations. A fairly impressive offering and quickest way to receive free Digital TV channels. It has variety of channels with programming to suit every one's taste.

                    AVAILABLE
                    ENTERTAINMENT CHANNELS
                    -BBC 1 -BBC 2
                    -ITV 1 -Channel 4
                    -Five -ITV 2
                    -BBC 3 -BBC 4
                    -ITV 3 -Sky Three
                    -UKTV History -Channel 4 +1
                    -More 4 -QVC
                    -Dave -Virgin 1
                    -ITV 4 -E4
                    -E4 +1 -ITV 2 +1
                    -Film 4 -Five US
                    -Five Life -Smile TV
                    -Gems TV -Nuts TV

                    CHILDREN'S CHANNELS
                    -CBBC
                    -CBeebies
                    -CITV

                    LIFESTYLE CHANNELS
                    -Ideal World
                    -Bid TV
                    -Price-Drop TV
                    -The Jewellery Channel

                    NEWS CHANNELS
                    BBC Parliament
                    Sky News
                    Sky Sports News
                    Community Channel
                    Teachers TV
                    Teletext
                    BBC Interactive

                    MUSIC CHANNELS
                    -The hits
                    -TMF

                    Sorry if I missed some channels but more or less these are the most available in freeview. It actually have everything for everyone really. Whatever your mood is there's something there for you, as for me I love E4 and Film 4 but when the kids are home It's definitely Cbeebies all day.

                    CONCLUSION
                    We are indeed living in a digital age but I'm not really convince to pay more on a Freesat even if it offers over 120 digital channels and 80 radio stations, through first glance it may look quite tempting but then I always consider the quality of the offerings as well as expenses that I have to pay on a monthly basis. As with Freeview, everything I want to watch are available here considering that they also offer up to 48 TV channels and 24 radio stations as well as the red button interactive services. Adding to that is it's easy to set up, no installation neither a subscription or contract. No fuss at all!

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                      09.11.2009 15:30
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                      Nearly as good as Sky but without a £40 a month bill.

                      We used to have Sky but got rid of it when we realised we spent most of our time watching 'normal' TV, however after spending a while having just 5 channels we found this very limiting and there was often nothing to watch. Not wanting to pay £40 a month again we decided that we would get a Freeview box and see what channels we could get for free.

                      Freeview is a digital terrestrial platform that gives you access to about 100 channels for free. You can access this by buying a set top box, these can range in price starting at about £15, the one I bought was from the Argos costing £20. You will find them in all electrical stores. Not everyone however needs to buy a box because if you have a relatively new television then freeview will already be built in. This is all to get ready for the digital switch over we keep hearing about on the television, eventually everybody should have access to freeview.

                      A freeview box is extremely easy to set up and it is just a case of plugging in and putting the ariel into the box. It will take just a few minutes to tune in and find its channels. My freeview box does sometimes lose signal often when the weather is bad which can be a bit annoying and it can take a while before it works again.

                      Out of all the channels you receive on freeview most of them are rubbish. There is a lot of radio and text channels, which are a waste of time. The rest of the channels are just repeats, ITV2 plus 1, Dave de ja vu, Channel 4 plus 1, More 4. It can be a bit of a pain when you are looking for something to watch but great if you miss a program and want to catch up.

                      The channels I do watch are ITV2, BBC3, TMF (music channel) and 4 Music. The music channels are something I really missed when we got rid of Sky. I sometimes watch the news channels and my children love to watch CBeebies and sometimes CITV.

                      They recently made a big thing on the TV about re-tuning your freeview box and I thought we were going to get loads of new channels but after I re-tuned I hardly noticed anything new, maybe a few late night adult channels and CNN but nothing worth watching.

                      Freeview is full of rubbish TV channels most of which I have never even watched but for just a one off payment of £20 it is more than worth it. I'd be lost without ITV2, CBeebies and the 2 music channels. For that reason alone I am very glad we got freeview, £20 well spent.

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                        06.11.2009 09:09
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                        brilliant value buy, essential for the switch

                        Freeview is an alternative to subscription services, and offers you around 50 tv channels, and about 25 radio stations. Once you have purchased a free view box or a tv with it built in, you never have to pay anything again. There are 2 different types of freeview, standard, which uses an arial, and free sat, which is from a satellite. Free sat is more expensive to buy at first, but then shares the free subscription.

                        The only bad thing about freeview is the nature of digital signal. On analogue, if a channel was not perfect, you could still view it, but it might have ghosting or be fuzzy. On digital, the program is either brilliant perfect quality, or not there at all. Most of the time the picture quality is brilliant, and has much richer colours and better sound than the older signals.

                        I would strongly advise freeview, as the digital switch over will make it essential soon. i would advise freesat for anyone at all unsure about signal coverage in their area. There is a signal checker online, but i have found this to be inaccurate in my area.

                        I would advise buying tvs with built in freeview systems, as these save space, save controllers, and are often a lot simpler to setup and use. These televisions should become cheaper and more available as the digital switch over comes.

                        Compared to paid subscription services, i personally prefer freeview. You get the main entertainment channels and the biggest documentaries and comedy's. There are also plans for high definition freeview channels coming soon.

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