Photos: Hands-on with freesat

We've put together a selection of our photos from the freesat launch to give you an idea of what's available and -- more importantly -- how it looks

If you haven't already heard, freesat is the new service from the BBC and ITV designed to bring free digital TV to people who don't live in the Freeview coverage area or people who want more channels and the potential for HD.

freesat is starting small with 80 channels, but it claims that there will be 300 by the end of the year. There's no reason to believe these won't be 220 additional shopping channels trying to flog you some miracle product, unfortunately.

There isn't much HD content at launch, but in the near future we expect ITV HD, Channel 4 HD and maybe one day Five HD to join in. It's possible that there could be free movie and music channels in glorious high definition.

Our first image in our freesat photo extravaganza is the HD Grundig box, which will cost around £150. You'll either need a Sky mini-dish or to pay for installation of a new dish, which will cost around £80. There are no further costs and no subscription fee. Click through for more sneak peeks at the hardware and setups from freesat's launch. -Ian Morris

More freesat from Crave:
What's freesat and how do I get it
See the freesat channel line-up on our forums
freesat: Does the service have what it takes to be a hit?

Update: We've had the first freesat receiver in, so check out our full Humax Foxsat-HD (freesat) review .

The back of the Grundig box is nice and simple. You get HDMI, satellite in and out and a digital audio output for getting the best out of the Dolby Digital 5.1 sound available on HD broadcasts.

The Ethernet socket isn't enabled yet, but that functionality is coming. The purpose of it is to allow return-path interactivity, access to online services and we'd hazard a guess that IPTV is inevitable at some point. The freesat people also hinted that we could one day see iPlayer available on the platform.

This is the EPG on the standard definition Grundig box. As you can see, it's easy to use, which is exactly the point of the freesat service. If you just want digital and have no interest in HD, these SD boxes start at around £50.

Panasonic is also going to be producing TVs with built-in freesat receivers, which means all you'll need to do is hook up a dish to your TV and away you go. This is incredibly slick, and we can only hope it becomes standard on all TVs in the future.

Meet the Humax FOXSAT-HD, a top-of-the range freesat receiver. This model is £150 and will be available soon. Humax will also be introducing a PVR receiver too, which will be well worth waiting for.

Thank heavens for small mercies: Jeremy Kyle is only available in 576i. We think we speak for everyone when we say there really is no need for HD when it comes to tales of unknown parentage and hard drug addiction. Of course, when ITV HD launches, we might get lumbered with chavs in HD.

BBC HD is, of course, available in 1080i. At the moment, there are no plans for 1080p over satellite. It's theoretically possible though, and the hardware prices for decoders are dropping all the time. We'd suggest you don't hold your breath because there is virtually no 1080p being broadcast anywhere in the world.

If you're a gigantic geek -- like us -- then you'll appreciate the inclusion of this image, which is the Humax diagnostics screen. Here you'll see the box takes your postcode during setup. This is to make sure you get the right regional variant of BBC and ITV for your locale.

Finally, the Humax EPG: it's the slickest of all the freesat interfaces we saw. The Panasonic still wins on sheer simplicity because its hardware is included in a TV and integrated alongside the Freeview tuner. Pretty fool-proof, we think.

 

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