The satellite system gives Freesat better geographical coverage — around 98 per cent of UK homes should be able to receive it, whereas Freeview reception is still quite poor in many parts of the country. It also allows Freesat to broadcast more channels than Freeview — including, most importantly — more HD channels. Freeview is expected to start broadcasting HD programmes sometime next year, but will probably be limited to just two or three channels. At the moment, Freesat is only broadcasting two HD channels, but it has the capacity to add many more in the future, and you won’t have to pay any extra for them.
Humax’s Foxsat HD: Freesat set-top
It’s not completely free of course — you’ll need to pay a one-off fee to buy the set-top box and satellite dish that you need to receive the service. You’ll need to cough up for a TV licence (and, obviously, an HD TV) too. However, once that’s done there’s no monthly subscription fee or any other charge for watching any of the Freesat channels.
There are actually two types of Freesat set-top boxes currently available. For about £50 you can get an standard-definition Freesat receiver. However, to receive HD channels you’ll need to buy the more expensive Freesat HD box, which will push the total cost to around £150. Then there’s around £100 worth of dish installation on top of that if you don’t already own one. There are several manufacturers that make Freesat boxes, so the price will vary from model to model. See www.freesat.co.uk for the official list of Freesat-compatible boxes, or ring the Freesat Helpline on 0845 313 0049.
Panasonic’s Freesat IDTV: HD ready
One thing that’s worth mentioning is that most of the Freesat HD boxes that are currently on sale are just receivers — they let you watch Freesat channels, but they don’t have any DVR features that will allow you to record Freesat channels. You might be able to hook your Freesat box to an existing VCR or DVR, but we expect that proper Freesat DVRs should start to appear in the shops later this year — just in time for Christmas.
BBC HD FTA
Sayeth the article: "However, Freesat From Sky doesn’t offer any HD channels".
Fail. BBC HD is broadcast FTA, or in the clear, and can be picked up by any compatible HD receiver, including a Sky HD box with either a Freesat by Sky card, or no card at all.
"With the exception of the BBC's Living Planet (I think it was that series) which purported to be 1080i, not one of the Blu-Ray discs in my local HMV had any resolution or encoding info on the packaging whatsoever."
Utter rubbish. I've picked up the first 10 from my tv stand, titles including Superman, Blood Diamond, Pirates of the Caribbean and Casino Royale (all titles I'm sure you'll find in HMV) and all bar one of them has a specifications table on the back, and in it clearly states "Video : 1080p High Definition".
The only film without this box was "the Departed" and it has a gold logo saying "Full HD 1080" clearly stamped on the back of the case.
With the exception of the BBC's Living Planet (I think it was that series) which purported to be 1080i, not one of the Blu-Ray discs in my local HMV had any resolution or encoding info on the packaging whatsoever.
Don't mind the AC
Just about every Blu-ray disc is in full 1080p (as is HD-DVD). In fact the few that aren't are 1080i, not 720p. As stated on the boxes.
The previous AC claimed that HD movie downloads for the 360 "won't happen in the UK". Which is rather odd, since they DID happen last year. Not that I've bothered with it, since I have a HD-DVD player, and the vast majority of the 360's HD film selection were also released on the format.
"Mark" asked "why not use the new compression algorithm and create a HD movie that fits on ONE DVD?" - to which the answer is "because while a 720p film would fit if you dial down the bitrate enough, Blu-ray and HD-DVD already used those new compression algorithms and yet decided that 20+Gb for the video alone was necessary to give the best quality at 1080p". Squeezing a whole HD film onto a single DVD is the HD equivalent of VideoCD when it comes to being covered in a swathe of artifacts and mess.
What's the point?
As people keep subtely pointing towards, there is no such thing as HD.
If you buy a 1080 set, any 720 "HD" (ie most) will be upscaled by a non-integer factor. If you get a 720 set, hopefully any 1080 content will be downscaled... or will it just not be watchable?
With SD you get to watch the native resolution. With HD you don't. So we've introduced extra resolution in order to *decrease* picture quality. Until there's a shared common standard between TVs and media players, HD will remain a well-executed con.
(Of course, so was DVD. The strategy of employing point-sampling for video encoding produced "sharp images" (stills) but crap movement due to strobing. I'm I being cynical in thinking that this may just have been done to introduce a flaw that they could later sell us the solution to...?)