Freeview HD TV guide: Free hi-def built in

In the second part of our look at ways to get Freeview HD, we round up all the TVs currently on the market that are capable of receiving the free HD channels on offer

HD channels from the BBC, ITV and others should be freely available to most of the country by the time the World Cup kicks off, so you can enjoy seeing England predictably and pathetically fail in glorious high definition. You'll need some new kit though, because existing Freeview TVs don't support HD signals.

You can plug a Freeview HD tuner into your existing TV -- we've done a round-up of all the available boxes here -- or you can buy a spangly new telly with one built in. It won't be long before every new TV on the market has a built-in Freeview HD tuner. But there aren't many yet, and even some that do don't exactly shout about it. We've rounded up all the ones you can currently buy.

It's our goal to review all these new Freeview HD TVs, so do keep an eye on our TV reviews channel for the latest hardware. If you want to find out whether you can receive the HD channels in your area, consult the postcode checker on the Freeview HD Web site.

Sony

The Freeview Web site says Sony has no less than 31 TVs with Freeview HD tuners built-in. It's essentially equipped all its new TV ranges with Freeview HD goodness. Sony, we applaud you.

Sony Freeview HD TV

At the very top end, you'll find the HX903 range, which has Full HD 3D , in addition to being able to get Freeview HD. HX TVs are aimed at the videophile, who's determined to have the very best home-cinema experience. It comes in 46 or 52-inch screen sizes and has a 400Hz panel, which makes 3D look crisp and lovely.

The LX range has more of a design focus. These TVs aren't aimed at people who're bothered about the best performance, but at those who just want the most incredible-looking telly for the corner of their converted match-factory loft apartment. Available in 40 and 60-inch models, 3D is an option here too, if you buy the add-on pack. These TVs have LED edge lighting, and thus pretty deep black levels too.

The EX range is Sony's cover-all TV series, offering good performance for a sensible price. Models start at 32 inches and go all the way up to 60. LED edge lighting is standard again here, so expect lovely thin TVs with Internet video streaming and some helpful eco-friendly features too. These are about as cheap as Freeview HDs get, with the 32-inch 32EX403 on sale now for around £500.

Panasonic

Panasonic has a mix of TVs that offer both Freeview HD and freesat HD. This is by far the smartest solution for getting reliable access to HD services. You need a satellite dish, but freesat offers nearly 100 per cent coverage of the UK.

At the top of the range, the 50VT20 and 55VT20 are 50 and 55-inch screens that are Full HD 3D ready. They each come with two sets of 3D glasses, and will be able to cope with 3D Blu-ray and Sky 3D as they become available.

Panasonic Freeview HD TV

The 42, 46 and 50-inch G20 screens aren't 3D capable, but you do get the same exquisite black levels and an impressive quality picture. There's also the twin Freeview HD and freesat HD tuners too, so the choice of which service you use is still wide open.

The 50-, 46- and 42-inch S20 screens only have Freeview HD tuners, but will offer the usual range of Panasonic plasma TV features, such as super blacks with a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio and 600Hz sub-field panels for smooth natural motion. A good entry-level way to get Freeview HD on your TV.

LG

Korean giant LG has several models across multiple ranges with Freeview HD. These include LED backlit LCDs, standard LCDs and plasmas.

In plasma TVs there are three ranges, each with two TVs, and with two size choices, either 50 or 60 inches. Look out for models with the following range numbers: PK590 , PK790 and PK990. We've reviewed the 50PK590 and 50PK790 and were truly blown away by the amazing picture quality and stunning black levels.

If LCD is more your thing, we suggest keeping an eye on the LD790 and LD690 ranges. Both have 47, 42 and 32-inch screen sizes available, while the LD790 also has a 55-inch variant.

LED backlit models also have Freeview HD tuners built-in. At the top of the range is the LX9900 , which has 3D support, 400Hz and comes in either 55 or 47 inches. The LE8900 series has 55-, 47- and 42-inch models with 200Hz panels. You get the NetCast stream services too, which provide video from the likes of YouTube and network media streaming.

LG Freeview HD TV

The LX6900 screens are another 3D range from LG. This series doesn't come with the glasses for 3D, but is capable of understanding the broadcasts. If you want to buy glasses, these will be available separately. There won't be 3D on Freeview for the foreseeable future, so you'll need either Sky, Virgin or a 3D Blu-ray player to see anything coming out of the screen at you.

TVs in the LE7900 range come in 55, 47, 42, 37 and 32 inches. They are part of the Infina range, which is stunningly good looking. The LE5900 TVs come in the same range of sizes and offer 100Hz picture technology. It's doubtful these screens will set the world alight with extra features, but they'll sell in huge numbers to Joe and Joanne Public, so it's a great way of sneaking Freeview HD support into people's homes.

 

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