HD Platforms AplentyHigh definition broadcasting is, thankfully, no longer the exclusive reserve of pay TV services like Sky's satellite platform or Virgin's cable one. Now you can obtain a decent variety of HD content from multiple platforms, some of which cost you zilch after an initial outlay for the necessary receiver equipment or a new TV.
The only catch with this brave new world of HD is that you now have more decisions to make over which platform to go for. So hopefully we can help make things a bit clearer for you.
The first issue to consider when looking at HD platforms is a simple matter of geography. For there are some platforms you just won't be able to receive unless you live in a particular area. The Virgin cable platform, for instance, can only be obtained in urban areas where the necessary cabling has been laid.
The newest HD platform, Freeview HD, despite being delivered through existing TV aerials, can also currently not be received in all parts of the country. This is because the UK's TV transmitters need to be upgraded to handle the HD data load, a gradual process that won't be completed until 2012.
BT's BT Vision service, meanwhile, is theoretically open to anyone who lives in an area with a broadband-enabled telephone exchange. However, you need to have your broadband delivered by the BT Total Broadband package. It won't work with other broadband providers.
The most 'universal' HD options available in the UK are the two satellite broadcasting platforms, Freesat and Sky. These should be receivable - via dishes attached to your house - almost anywhere in the UK.
While the geographical issues just discussed are largely out of your hands, everything else is a matter of personal choice based on matters of price, HD channel choice, and AV quality. So let's look at all these areas in turn.