Freesat HD Costs and ChannelsSupplier: Freesat
As its name suggests, Freesat's platform is delivered without subscription charges via satellite. It initially did well, providing at launch the only way of getting free HD broadcasts in the UK. It will be interesting to see how the broadcaster fares now Freeview HD is here, though.
To get Freesat's HD channels, you need a Freesat HD receiver, and a satellite dish pointing at the necessary satellites. Handily, these satellites are in the same place as those used by Sky, so if you already have a Sky installation but don't want to pay Sky's subscriptions anymore, you can just use your existing dish set up with a new receiver - or by converting to the Freesat from Sky system, where you can use an existing Sky box to receive the Freesat service for a one-off fee of £25. Freesat From Sky does not cover HD channels, however!
Unlike the Sky and Virgin platforms, you have quite a wide choice of Freesat HD receiver options, starting at £60 from brands like Goodmans, Bush, Sagem, and Humax. There are also a few TVs around that have Freesat HD tuners built in, from LG, Sony and, especially, Panasonic.
As well as standard and TV Freesat receivers, there are Freesat receiver/recorder combis, including Humax's FoxSat HDR (around £230 now) and Panasonic DVD and Blu-ray recorders (from around £410).
If you already have a Sky dish fixed to your wall, you should be able to buy a receiver without paying any installation fee. If you need a dish and installation, you're looking at around £80, rising to £100 for a Freesat+ installation due to its need for two LNB feeds.
The most disappointing thing about Freesat - especially given how much bandwidth it's got to work with given its satellite delivery system - is the fact that it only has two HD channels: BBC HD and ITV HD. This is sufficient, of course, to let you watch every World Cup football match in HD, but it's hugely disappointing that not even Channel 4 HD can be viewed through a normal Freesat HD receiver.