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The Benefits of Freesat

The Benefits of Freesat

Freesat (FS) is a free-to-air satellite digital television service provided jointly by the BBC and ITV. This service is now a very popular digital TV option throughout the UK and is seen as the main competitor to the Freeview terrestrial digital television service. FS has a number of benefits over Freeview, chief among them being that it is available in all areas of the UK, whereas Freeview reception is not possible in some locations.

What’s on offer?

Freeview currently offers 40 digital channels on its digital TV service. FS offers 140 free standard definition digital TV and radio channels, all for a one-off payment, with no contract and no subscription.

What about High Definition TV (HD)?

At present, Freeview can only deliver a basic HD programme output because of its current bandwidth limitations. FS however can offer the very best of BBC and ITV HD programming, including BBC HD, BBC1 HD and ITV1 HD. The successful launch of BBC1 HD now allows the BBC to provide more simulcast HD programming options from its regular BBC1 and BBC2 schedules.

WHAT ABOUT RECORDING?

There is no need to worry about missing your favourite programmes. In conjunction with Freesat’s HD service, Humax has launched the HD PVR. This wonderful box of tricks offers similar features to the Sky+ HD recorder, but without having to pay a monthly subscription.

If you would like to know more about digital television services, satellite systems or digital TV aerials, get in touch with us here at Aerial Force.

What Are Programming Sources

We mentioned earlier that a satellite needs to receive information in the first place in order to give it to the broadcast centre so that it can then pass it on to a second satellite. So, what are the sources of these channels and how vital is their role in all of this?

  • Local Channels: regional channels that are relevant to a specific location usually don’t send their information directly to the satellite. They typically use a broadcast centre first before the first satellite, so the process is switched up a little bit. 
  • Turnaround Channels: these types of channels usually aren’t confined to a region or specific location and have their own broadcast centre that can send the information to the satellite directly, without having to send it somewhere else first. 

Encoding Satellite Information

When it comes to transforming the information into a language that your TV can understand, it is usually a three-step process. Let’s take a look at what this involves. 

  1. Compression: because the information that the satellite sends is coming from space, the data needs to be packaged a little differently in order to make the journey successfully. Compressing it means turning it into a smaller file that can be sent more efficiently.  
  2. Encoding: once it has been compressed successfully and sent from the satellite, the broadcast centre can then receive it. The broadcast centre will then take a look at it and remove any data that doesn’t need to be there. 
  3. Transmission and Encryption: one the broadcast centre has made sure everything is ok with the compressed file, it can be sent to the satellite. The satellite will then send it down to the dish on your roof. 

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Freesat versus Freeview. What’s Best for You?

Freesat versus Freeview. What's Best for You?

Hot on the heels of Freeview digital TV, Sky has come up with its own subscription-free digital TV option in the form of Freesat, Freesat HD and Freesat+.

Similarly to Freeview, Freesat is received via a set top box. There’s a one-off payment of around £175 (depending on any TV aerial installation costs) and there is no monthly subscription. Included in the one-off payment is the Freesat set top box, mini Sky dish and viewing card (included to make upgrading to Sky TV’s monthly subscription packages as quick, cheap and easy as possible) Of course prices can vary a little depending on what type of TV aerial installation you might require.

Remember a few blog entries ago when we told you about the magnificent 40 channels or Freeview? Sky Freesat boasts a massive 240 channels including music, films, sports, documentaries, and comedy – all the favourites that have made Sky TV the monolith of media we recognise it as today.

The most recent revolutionary addition to the Sky family is Freesat HD. You’ll need to make sure your current Freesat set top box is HD compatible, otherwise an upgrade could be in order.

Also on offer is the fabulous Freesat+ option, with which your remote becomes almost like a magic wand. Freesat+ enables you to record, pause and rewind live TV, and set programmes to record the same show weekly. You could pause Life on Earth while you nip to make a cup of tea, leaving you wondering how you ever lived without Freesat+ set top boxes before.

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BBC Freesat with High Definition

BBC Freesat with High Definition

BBC Freesat was launched in spring 2008, and was set to provide the UK with a greater variety and choice of superb digital television channels.

BBC Freesat, launched by both the BBC and ITV, is available to approximately 95% of the United Kingdom, via a mini satellite dish installed at your home. Currently, the BBC Freesat service provides around 80 digital tv and radio channels, and it has been announced, that by the year 2009, there will be upto 200 free digital channels available. The service surpasses the channel line-up available from Freeview, and will be in direct competition with the Sky Freesat service, which has been available for numerous years.

Like most digital television services, the BBC Freesat system will provide increased user interaction, allowing viewers to take part in interactive TV shows. The system also comes complete with a digital channel guide, providing you with instant access to find out when your favourite shows are being shown!
One of the most exciting features, and one of the many reasons why it is fast becoming the United Kingdoms choice for digital TV, is the addition of FREE HIGH DEFINITION channels. Providing you have a High Definition, (HD) compatible BBC Freesat receiver, and HD television, you will be able to receive your shows in glorious high definition, with increased picture quality, crispier images, and more, vibrant colours. Furthermore, unlike the Sky Digital High Definition service, HD from BBC Freesat is and will remain FREE, forever. There are no monthly subscriptions and no hidden charges!

But it doesn’t end there! Available from November 2008, will be the new BBC Freesat HD PVR digital receiver, allowing home viewers to pause, rewind, fast forward live TV, very much like the Sky+ Service already available. You will also be able to record any channel available, direct to your Freesat receiver. Again, there are no plans that there will be any charge or fee for this service.

If you are looking to receive digital tv, want a broad channel line up, and are interested in receiving high definition channels, then the service provided by BBC Freesat could well be the answer!

Aerialforce are experts are supplying and installing BBC Freesat satellite systems. We also specialise in Digital Aerials, Sky, Sky+, Sky HD and Multiroom, European & Motorised satellite systems. For further information, or free advice, please do not hesitate to contact us

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Common Problems – Digital Set Box Crashed?

Common Problems – Digital Set Box Crashed?

A common yet easily rectifiable problem when watching your favourite digital television programmes, is for your pictures to freeze or not appear, and your digital set top box (which is used for either Sky, BBC Freesat or Freeview systems) to stop responding to any commands to change the channel or enter the menu.

Digital set top boxes (or satellite receivers in general) are like mini computers, and are prone to crashing which is where the software fails to operate as expected and cannot be operated by traditional methods.

The solution to rectify this problem, and return either your Freeview, Sky or BBC Freesat satellite receiver to a functional state, a reset of the box will be required.

We have outlined below the necessary procedure to perform a reset:

For BBC Freesat, Sky Digital & Freeview Receivers:

  • Unplug the set top box from the power socket for approximately five minutes. This allows the receiver to power down and clear it’s memory
  • Reconnect the set top box and allow the software approximately one minute to load itself correctly
  • Take the receiver off standby mode by pressing the power button on either the box or the remote control.
  • If successful, your digital television channels should be ok and watchable, and you should be able to change channel as expected.

If you have a Sky Digital satellite receiver and the above method didn’t cure your problems, you may need to perform a ‘system download’ to force the box to download the latest software and channels.

To perform a system download for Sky, follow the instructions below:

  • Unplug/Turn off the power supply powering the Sky digital(Sky, Sky+ or Sky HD) receiver.
  • Hold you finger down on the ‘backup’ button located on the front of the receiver (Please note, holding the backup button on the remote control will not work)
  • Reconnect the receiver or turn the power back on at the supply, whilst pressing down the backup button
  • After approximately 15 seconds, lights should appear on the front of your Sky digital receiver, and a message on screen explaining a download is in process – DO NOT SWITCH OFF THE RECEIVER!
  • Allow this process upto 15 minutes to perform fully. Once completed, the Sky digital receiver will automatically go to standby mode by default.
  • Press the power button on your remote control, and your Sky digital viewing service should be resumed!

If the above procedures do not cure your home viewing problems, there may be something else in your digital system which could be causing a disruption to your service, such as, the satellite dish or aerial, cabling or even slight mis-alignment or your satellite dish or TV aerial. A visit from an highly trained Aerialforce engineer can help fully diagnose the fault, and implement a remedial course of action.

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What is Freesat?

What is Freesat?

Freesat sounds like it is just another make of Freeview box, but it is actually a totally different way of receiving digital TV, without any subscriptions. Both have certain things in common – they have many television channels to choose from, can come in both Plus and HD formats (the former allowing the user to record, pause and rewind live TV whilst the latter gives superior picture quality for those with HD ready TVs) and both need a set top box to receive signals.

The difference comes in how these signals are received. Whilst Freeview can be received via analogue or digital TV aerials, Freesat is transmitted via satellite. This means two main things – firstly there will be a much greater coverage, meaning that almost anyone in the country can ensure they get perfect pictures, wherever they are, and secondly that, to receive it, you will need a satellite dish. For those with digital TV aerials who have struggled to get the picture quality or indeed channel coverage they would like, Freesat may be the perfect answer.

The other differences come in the number of channels that can be received – with Freesat there are literally hundreds of channels to choose from as opposed to Freeview which is currently under 100. It is also possible to get BBC iPlayer direct to the TV meaning that almost any show from the previous seven days can be watched at any time.

Freesat can be installed by any normal aerial installers, so there is no worry about having to get in specific companies who will charge extortionate prices due to their exclusivity.

Whichever you think will suit you better, it is worth talking to experienced and qualified aerial installers first who will be able to inform of the best option for you depending on the area that you live in.

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