Last Updated on
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If you're like my friend, Derek, it means you're sick of paying over £120 for a TV subscription. And you're on the lookout for a fresh alternative.
Sounds like you're looking for some Freeview action!
Over 95% of the nation's favourite programmes are available at no monthly cost. If you bought your TV in the UK anytime from 2010, Freeview came with it and Freeview offers over 90 TV channels. So you are connected already.
What you need now is a Freeview recorder to record your favourite TV programmes live. And you could later come back to watch at your convenience.
I now present ten of the most popular models.
Imagine that you subscribed to Sky TV for seven years. During which time they increased your subscription by over 70%. This is despite their set-top box proving to be unreliable each year. So you summoned the courage to ditch pay-TV and go Freeview all the way. Your only concern now is how to maximise your free content and enjoy it to the fullest.
The Humax HDR 1100S is a great way to do just that.
This Humax unit can record two programmes simultaneously. There is also a feature to preview programme listings for the week.
The HDR 1100S can also pause and rewind live TV while recording. It comes pre-loaded with relevant apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime. So if you subscribe to those platforms, just plug and play!
Sleek and beautiful design with in-built Freeview Play. And the user has a choice to access catch up for all stations and seamless network connectivity. What's not to like in the Panasonic DMR HWT250EB?
The Long Record feature on this device doubles your recording capacity. You can record up to 684 hours in HD and 259 hours in normal mode.
Catch Up TV, BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and All 4 are available, and the series link function ensures you never miss a thing.
In addition, the programme guide shows you content from 8 days ahead and seven days behind.
Perhaps you never imagined there could ever be a set-top box that would do some of the things your smartphone does? Well, welcome to the Panasonic DMR HWT 150EB.
Just like the HWT250EB, this Freeview recorder doubles your recording capacity with its Long Record feature. You get to record up to 341 hours in HD mode and 129 hours in normal mode. It works seamlessly with an HD 3D Camcorder and is compatible with all Android devices.
On the function menu, there's quite an array of services like Catch Up TV, iPlayer, All 4, Netflix, Youtube and more.
This black and rugged set-top box comes with HD/SD MPEG2/4 technology. It supports 1080p resolution, built to cater for the UK market. This device comes with additional feature of audio description for the visually impaired.
Of course, the Finlux Freeview 1TB Freeview Recorder comes loaded with PVR functionality. You can pause and rewind live TV. With over 12 HD channels to watch Freeview, 7-day catch-up services and 1 TB recording capacity, we can tell you that you are in for a treat with this set-top box.
This set-top box is rated number 29 on Amazon's Bestsellers list in the set-top boxes category. With its aesthetically appealing slick black design, this lovely device will surely catch your fancy. And just so you know, it is specially designed in the UK by Manhattan for your ultimate subscription-free experience.
The T3-R has great features such as a strong WiFi, a quad-core CPU for fast performance and support for Ultra HD and HDR, as long as your TV can handle it.
Rated number 35 on Amazon's bestsellers list in the set-top-boxes category. This very quiet box gives you the chance to store countless films and TV episodes. You can also download the app for Android and IOS and see the line-up of shows that will be airing soon.
This recorder towers above all others as a pioneer in Ultra HD TV technology. It comes with the BT SPORTS Ultra HD channel which you can only enjoy if you are a BT subscriber and your TV is compatible with Ultra HD.
You can pause, rewind and record up to 600 hours of Standard Definition TV. Also, you can record as much as 250 hours High Definition TV content and 60 hours of Ultra High Definition content.
The device has a slick and easy-to-use menu system.
The EPG grants access to an on-demand library.
This recorder allows you to watch the TV you want, when you want. In brilliant HD.
This box has a unique programme that allows you to scroll as far back as 7 days and watch the TV you missed. You can also to scroll forward so you know what to look ahead to.
With space for 300 hours' worth of TV, you can record all the TV you want, anyhow you want.
Your recordings can be sorted by date or title. Should you forget to fix record for your favourite show, the YouView Smartphone app allows you programme your box to record remotely with your iPhone.
Rated number 17 in Amazon's Best Sellers' ranking of set-top boxes, the T2-R box is compact, near-silent and fits into any room. It is specially designed in the UK by Manhattan for a memorable Freeview HD experience.
Unlike several other alternatives, this box comes with a large, well designed remote control. This has all the constantly used buttons well-spaced at the top. In line with your expectations, the box allows you to record the entire series for playback whenever you choose.
If you need to record more programmes, the T2-R will suggest alternative broadcasts to make it happen for you.
This box enables you to watch over 60 TV channels for free. Also, there is a simple 8-day forward-7-day-backwards electronic program guide (EPG). This lets you check to see if you have missed a programme days after it may have been on. It also offers you the option to series-record. This way, you never miss an episode, to begin with.
The FVP- 4000T possesses triple digital TV tuners with which you can record 4 programmes simultaneously.
With the built-in WiFi, you can easily connect the recorder to your home network. This way, you enjoy catch up services such as BBC iPlayer and ITV Player.
These renewed products work and look like new. They have been duly tested and checked, and they all come with the 1-year Renewed Guarantee.
Rated number 24 in Amazon's bestsellers' list of set-top boxes, the Humax HDR-2000T is a digital television recorder loaded with recording, multimedia, home-networking, and on-demand services for the ultimate subscription-free TV experience.
Hook the device up to an HD-compatible TV and brace yourself to enjoy 10 HD channels plus up to 50 Freeview standard definition TV channels and 24 radio channels.
The Humax HDR-2000T allows you to record up to 300 hours of Standard Definition (SD) TV content while providing access to over 70 channels, ten of which are HD channels. You also have the option of recording two programmes simultaneously while watching one. And, surely, you can record, pause and rewind live TV all you want.
If you've read up to this point, it means you are really serious about ditching Pay TV for good.
Come to think about it. Without Pay TV, what will you miss? The Discovery and National Geographic channels perhaps. Well, I believe you can treat yourself to a well-deserved holiday with the £1000 you'll save over the next year.
So… what Freeview HD recorder should you buy?
What you want is a durable recorder that provides you with full options and is HD. Therefore, I highly recommend the number one on our list: The Humax HDR-1100S 500 GB TV Recorder.
I think you'd be so satisfied with this purchase that you may be throwing an emancipation party to celebrate your freedom from the shackles of pay-TV.
Go on over to amazon.co.uk and get yourself a unit you deserve regardless of price.
Never regret a purchase.
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With two tuners you can record two programmes at once. You can do this while watching a third programme from the hard drive or, with some recorders, live.
Accurate series recording and storage: You must ensure it can record full series and has good storage. The bigger the hard drive capacity in Gigabytes (GB), the better. Any unit containing a 500gb hard disk or more is your ideal choice.
One would have thought that electronic programme guides (EPGs) would be largely generic but this is not the case. For example, the EPGs from Humax and Panasonic are quite different as you may have noticed above.
Generally, a good EPG will not only spot recording clashes, but it will offer alternative programme times if there are any.
Popular apps and services that can be found on set-top boxes include Netflix, Now TV, Amazon Prime, Skype and news and weather services, amongst others. But just because they're there doesn't mean they'll work for you. Many of them, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Videos and Now TV, require subscriptions.
Another thing to note is that all these features, Catch-up, YouTube, and the like, would only work when TVs are connected to an internet router.
If the rest of the set-top box of your choice is perfect, it might just be lacking a few ports that are compatible with the rest of your equipment. Just remember that adaptors that enable HDMI cables to connect to a different type of port, including Scart sockets, are available for less than a £12 price.
The Freeview box is a digital receiver that converts the digital Freeview TV signals into a format that enables us to view it on our TVs. It requires an external aerial which cable is connected to the set-top box indoors, which is in turn connected to your TV. It is what we have been talking about from the first paragraph of this article.
For those who don't know, Freeview itself was launched in 2002. It is the UK's digital terrestrial television platform which is operated in collaboration with BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and Arqiva, (the transmitter operator). This is why many of the free-to-air channels in Freeview Play are under licence from these companies and their subsidiaries.
Speaking of licence, in 2002 the above-mentioned consortium of media companies took over the licence of the defunct ITV Digital which collapsed that year. And thus undertook to provide consumers access to the six digital terrestrial television multiplexes covering the UK via a television antenna.
And as we already explained above, you can get Freeview on a range of different devices. This includes Freeview set-top boxes which is our subject matter at this present moment.
To set up your Freeview box, simply follow these steps:
1. Plug your antenna lead into the circular antenna socket at the back of your Freeview box.
2. Connect your SCART or HDMI cable into the appropriate sockets on your TV. Then plug the other end of your antenna lead into the socket labelled 'AV1' (for SCART) or 'HDMI' (For HDMI)
3. Turn your TV on with the remote control.
4. Turn on your Freeview set-top box. Your TV should detect the box automatically. If it doesn't, go to the AV1 or HDMI channel with your remote.
5. Start tuning your box with the remote. Make sure to store all the channels you find.
YouView is a service that combines the regular free-to-air Freeview channels with catch-up TV from those same channels. It thereafter, streams to you through your internet broadband connection.
Some YouView boxes also offer additional pay-per-view channels and programmes. But since many Freeview boxes offer catch-up TV nowadays, the two services have become more or less identical.
Which is why there are a couple of Youview boxes featured in this top-ten countdown.
Unlike Freeview, which sends its signals over-the-air via transmitters, FreeSat sends its signals via satellites. The channel selection is similar for both, although FreeSat offers a wider variety of channels.
To get Freesat signals, you would need a satellite dish on your roof and a FreeSat receiver indoors. This willcome either as an in-built component of your TV or as a separate Freesat set-top box.
Internet video streaming sites that connect to your TV can be used to view both Freesat and Freeview Channels. This is not done through the air, but via the internet.
To view the content, you can either use the built-in channel apps such as BBC, iPlayer or the ITV Hub or apps that stream live channels to you, via the internet.
As we mentioned earlier, some Freeview boxes combine these two services of offering you direct over-the-air channels, as well as catch-up apps that make use of your broadband connection.
To begin with, some recorders, like our top pick, the Humax HDR-1100S 500GB TV Recorder, offer both services.
However, a strictly-Freesat recorder can at best record two channels simultaneously. But some Freeview recorders record more than one channel at the same time. You may want to check out the Humax fvp-5000t while you're on this subject.
A: Yes, you can.
And the easiest way to do it is to get a Freeview HD Recorder or Freeview Play Recorder. You buy the box, plug it in and enjoy the privilege of choosing when you want to watch your favourite TV programmes. It's that simple.
To record a show with a Freeview Play Recorder, you click on the TV Guide, and then choose the programme you want to record. This depends on whether you want to record a single episode, or a whole series.
A: Let's imagine you bought a new 52-inch HDTV with Freeview and you're looking to record programmes. You'd probably wonder if you need to buy a digital video recorder in addition, or if your Smart TV can do the work with its pre-loaded Freeview.
There are TV models that allow you to directly record programmes onto a USB hard drive without the need for a digital video recorder or VCR. All that is needed is for you to plug your USB stick or external hard drive into the provided USB port. If you have a TV like this, then, yes, you can record TV programmes on your smart TV.
A: With more than 90 Freeview channels and up to 15 HD channels available to record from via the TV guide, a Freeview recorder is the surest tool to help fulfill your recording needs. With it, you can record all the shows you want and enjoy playback at any time that's convenient for you.
As we said earlier, simply highlight and select the show you want to record, then either choose to record a single episode or the whole series. With most recorders, you can do this even while watching, pausing or rewinding live TV programmes.
Super cool, right?
The coolest factor for you, though, is that you have said goodbye to Pay TV.
And once you have bought a Freeview recording unit, you're done. There will be no more recurring monthly costs… as long as you bought a solid functional model.
This, my friends, is a victory.
Therefore, I hereby drop my proverbial pen, raise my glass of wine and I say 'cheers'…
To you, my friend.
Hi, I'm the founding guy of Product Spy. Highly experienced in home and garden appliances through years of online research. I want to help everyone in the UK by streamlining their research when buying a new product. I will be putting the hours in researching to find the best products so you don't have to.