The advantage of Freeview is that pretty much everyone has a TV aerial, so it was just a matter of buying a box, switching it on and away you go - unless you were one of many who then found out that your existing TV aerial wasn't up to the task that is! With Freesat, you obviously need a satellite dish installed, which will set you back around £80, although many people may find that when they move into a property, there's already a dish installed - that's what I found when I bought my last house.
Unlike a Sky box, the Freesat receiver inside the TH-46PZ81 is an open satellite receiver, which basically means that you can pickup free channels from any satellite - so if you have a craving for German satellite TV, then you should be able to pull those channels down, although you may have to adjust your dish to do so.
On the whole, I was impressed with my brief encounter with the TH-46PZ81 and with Freesat in general. Ultimately though, any TV service will live and die by its programming, and Sky has a habit of buying up some of the best shows out there to drive subscriptions. Hooked on Lost? Freesat isn't going to help you I'm afraid. If you want to keep up with the adventures of Jack, Kate, Locke and all, you're gonna have to pony up the cash for a Sky install, and even more if you want to watch it in HD. But if you can live with waiting to watch those big shows when the DVD or Blu-ray box sets come out, then Freesat will offer you an easy and affordable gateway into broadcast high definition content.
Check back for a full review of the Panasonic TH-46PZ81 as soon as I get hold of a retail sample.