Group Test Freeview’s HD service is rolling out around the UK, and about half of the population should be able to receive it in time for the World Cup this summer. The new service also promises better picture quality for a range of programmes on BBC HD, ITV 1 HD and Channel 4 HD, with Welsh viewers swapping Channel 4 for the S4C Clirlun service instead.
If the lure of the World Cup doesn’t tempt you, there are other possibilities that Freeview HD opens up. An Ethernet port and support for internet TV is mandatory on all Freeview HD receivers and DVRs, and though there aren’t yet confirmed plans for a roll-out of BBC iPlayer across the board, it’s fairly likely that Freeview HD will match Freesat in that regard sooner or later.
And, of course, all Freeview HD boxes also receive the standard definition service, so if your existing box is a little long in the tooth, or you've been suffering since the last Freeview re-tune, an HD upgrade may be worth considering – at the very least, you may get a better picture out of the current channels upscaled through HDMI than you do from an older box.
To take advantage of the new service, you’ll need a Freeview HD set-top box, or a TV that has it built in. Though Freeview HD's technical launch of the service took place in December 2009, and the consumer launch at the end of March, it’s only now that a good selection of boxes is starting to filter through to the shops.
Freeview HD: not quite as immersive as the ad makes out...
Reg Hardware has rounded up and reviewed seven of very latest Freeview HD set-top boxes:
- Bush DVB680
- Goodmans GDB300HD
- Humax HD-FOX T2
- i-Can Easy HD 2851T
- Icecrypt T2200
- Philips DTR5520
- Sharp TU-T2
But before you check out what we think of them and which ones have been selected as Best Buys, we'll guide you through the technical and practical pros and cons you need to consider before make a buying decision.
Freeview HD Set-top Boxes Group Test