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Nov 29 2011

With Christmas fast approaching, we thought it might be a good idea to put together our thoughts on the best Freesat bargains available this xmas. So whether you want to snuggle down and watch none-stop programmes over the festive period, or will be so busy that you’ll need to record your favourite programmes, we have something perfect for you.

We’ll begin with the basic range of Freesat receivers, designed to offer standard-definition access to over 150 tv and radio channels, with no thrills, just straight forward viewing at the lowest price possible.

The first pick has to be the fabulous Manhattan Plaza DS-100, which joined the Freesat fold at the end of last year and has proven to be worthy of the Freesat logo, with incredible reliability and positive reviews; available from Satbuyer for just £47 (£52 inc postage), a great bargain for your main television, bedroom setup, or as a present for someone else. Compare prices on this product

As an alternative, the Bush BFSAT02SD has to be the lowest priced Freesat receiver available, at £29.99 plus postage from Argos (also available for store collection). Whilst the price is hard to resist, the product itself takes basic to a new level with few outputs on the back and questionable quality, but if your budget will only stretch so far, given how accessible Argos is to most these days, it could turn out to be a very good buy. Compare prices on this product

Moving on to the range of Freesat HD receivers, this is where you’ll find a great range of options from highly regarded manufacturers, all offering you both standard and stunning high-definition, so you can enjoy the Christmas movies in much more detail.

Our first pick has once again got to be the recently launched Manhattan Plaza HD-S, which we gave 4.5/5 in our review, and has been followed with similar scores from the big name magazines’. The HD-S allows you access to all the SD and HD channels available; all packaged in a stylish box with straight forward functionality. Whilst it lacks bells and whistles (Christmas pun!) it is arguably the best receiver sold under the Freesat HD range, with rock solid reliability and great picture/sound quality. The best bit is the price, £79.99 including delivery from Amazon. Compare prices on this product

Our second Freesat HD receiver has got to be the Humax FOXSAT-HD, which after years on sale still continues to hold its own against more recent competition. Humax seem to be at the forefront of development with Freesat so tend to benefit from all new services before the rest, which included BBC iPlayer at the time, and ITV Player which is still in beta. Notwithstanding that, the receiver is fantastic, ideal for those that want straight forward SD/HD viewing, but also like trying out new services first. The FOXSAT-HD can be picked up for as little as £109.95 including delivery from Amazon, or for £124 inc delivery with a 2 year warranty from Satbuyer. Compare prices on this product

Sneaking in a third option, we couldn’t leave this section without a mention for the TechniSat HDFS. It might not sell in the same quantities as the Manhattan or Humax, but it does have a couple of secret weapons worthy of a mention. It offers all the same basic functionality as the other two, but also allows you to record directly to an external hard drive or memory stick via the USB port. It isn’t an all singing all dancing recorder, because of the single tuner design, but providing you set timers and leave the channel on you want to record from, it is a great option if you don’t want to buy a more expensive Freesat+HD receiver. The HDFS also comes with a leading 3 year manufacturer’s warranty, all for £119.99 from Amazon. Compare prices on this product

As we continue up in price, we find ourselves arriving at the Freesat+HD receivers, where you really being to be spoilt for choice, with approx 12 makes/model available, though some are much better than others.

There is no doubt that the biggest seller and most highly regarded receiver within the + range has got to be the Humax FOXSAT-HDR. It has been around since the early days of Freesat and was the first Freesat+HD receiver to launch. Once again because it is made by Humax, it tends to benefit from new functionality and services before the rest, which includes ITV Player in beta, as well as the recently announced (but low key) BoxOffice365. The FOXSAT-HDR comes these days with a built-in 500GB hard drive, or 1TB if more storage space is a must. Whilst it has had a few niggles with software over the years, it remains a stable and well designed product which we can highly recommend. Available in 500GB form again from Amazon for £224.95 with a 1 year warranty, or from Satbuyer for £240 with a 2 year warranty; alternatively the 1TB version can be picked up for £280 including delivery from Satbuyer, again with a 2 year warranty. Compare prices on this product

If that price is a little bit rich for you, given that Humax is a premium brand, then you might want to look at the Samsung SMT-S7800 which was launched as a direct rival for the Humax 500GB. It comes with similar functionality from one of the most respected brands in the electronics industry, plus is priced at £209.99 from Amazon to really give you something to think about. There is no doubting that Samsung had a rocky start with their Freesat product because of poorly designed usability, but a couple of software updates since have certainly improved this beautifully designed box. Compare prices on this product

If you want Freesat+HD record functionality, with access to all the available standard and high-definition channels, but don’t want to break the bank, then the best lower end brand option would be the Sagem DTR94320S. It doesn’t have the flare or appeal of some of the more expensive units, and the reviews are mixed, but if you get a good one, it should do everything you need with no hassle. The DTR94320S comes complete with a 320GB hard drive so still plenty of space for your recordings, and the best thing is the price, at £179.99 from Comet. Compare prices on this product

And now for something completely different! If you fancy something just a little bit special, a bit edgy, then maybe the Echostar HDS-600RS is for you. It offers all the usual functionality of a Freesat+HD receiver, but with the innovative addition of the Slingmedia service, which allows you (in brief!) to connect up to your broadband connection and stream all your channels and recordings to an external device anywhere in the world, such as your iPad or laptop. Naturally this requires a fairly quick Internet connection and someone with a little technical knowledge to work it, but the supporting documentation and Echostar support is good and the price even better, at £210 including delivery from Satbuyer, complete with 2 year warranty. If you feel you would make use of all the add-ons. Compare prices on this product

It is worth noting that because of recent terrible floods in Thailand, you may see the price of Freesat+HD receivers go up. This is due to Thailand being the second largest exporter of hard drives and are believed to be struggling to meet the constant demand; which they don’t expect to return to normal until August 2012 at the earliest, which will have a knock on affect with availability and price for HDD’s. It wouldn’t surprise us if you see an increase in 10% on the price of a Freesat+HD receiver from next year.

Hopefully this will give you a few good ideas of how to spoil yourself (or someone else) this Christmas, but don’t forget there are many more receivers available that we haven’t been able to mention, and many more places to buy; so view them here. We’ll try to do a similar post for Freesat televisions too.

18 Responses to “Christmas Freesat Bargains 2011”

  1. Muzer Says:

    I’ve heard that there actually wasn’t going to be a HDD shortage originally (most HDD manufacturers have only one plant out of many in the affected areas), but the media panicked people into buying loads of HDDs immediately, which then caused the shortage ;)

    Anyway, good reviews, I’d say they agree with popular opinion at least, though I’ve only tried the Humax out of the lot you reviewed.

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  2. liamo Says:

    Nice prices on the Bush SD, the Manhattan HD and the Sagem + boxes! I can see Freesat’s numbers increasing a nice bit over the festive season. I have a few relatives some of whom have SKY and are anxious to go FTA definitely taking an interest in these models – Hopefully they’ll do alright with these! Can i ask if anyone knows of any difficulty with having the Bush SD model connected to the same LNB as other receivers be they freesat, FTA or Sky FTA? I cant remember where but i have a vague recollection of seeing a documented issue where the Bush models seem to have a problematic effect if theres other boxes feeding off the same LNB – hope the question is clear – just wanna know before i start advising people! Thanks in advance folks! :)

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  3. admin Says:

    Unaware of the problem you mentioned; they may have been refering to looping through from another device rather than a direct feed/cable from the LNB, which should operate fine. If you are unsure, the slightly more expensive Manhattan Plaza DS-100 is a significantly better product though obviously about £20 more.

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  4. Russ Says:

    The plus point for buying the Samsung SMT-S7800 is that it is going be G2 enabled with a software update.

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  5. Russ Says:

    re. post 4

    Should read “it is going to be G2 enabled”

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  6. admin Says:

    Russ said: The plus point for buying the Samsung SMT-S7800 is that it is going be G2 enabled with a software update.

    I’m afriad not, it doesn’t have the processing power capable of the G2 technology. If they have told you differently, get it in writing, so you can use against them in the future.

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  7. graham Says:

    OK Smart **** What is G2 And what are the benefits To us freesat viewers

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  8. admin Says:

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  9. freesatconvert Says:

    I’m happy I managed to get the Samsung SMT-S7800 for £150 as part of the Amazon UK Black Friday sale. :)

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  10. graham Says:

    Thought you said light reading Admin, Other people also blinded by science. I’ve had no problems with my Foxsat and get all the progs I need If I need anything else I’ve got a laptop. I have a laptop, A TV. A Foxsat and various other devices that accept ethernet we are going back to the days of HiFi seperates and a cluttered up lounge why does everything need to do everything. I have a mobile phone that does so many things but I can’t get a signal to make a phone call unless I stand on one leg and lean out of the balcony window at 42 degrees SSW.

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  11. Rozzo Says:

    Concerning the Technisat HDFS your comment to “set timers and leave the channel on you want to record from” is misleading as it has the ability to set the recordings up from the EPG and changes channels accordingly. What is lacks is “guide link” so there is no control of the actual start and finish times if these run early or late, but it does have auto-padding settings which it calls pre and post roll timings.
    Plus it has the best non-freesat mode of any of the products because you can set timed recordings with it.

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  12. Rozzo Says:

    Not surprisingly there is no mention of the Panasonic recorders with the last lot being from the 2010 range and no 2011 equivalent produced to match the freeview BWT versions. They did make 2011 European satellite versions; BST700/800 but these do not have freesat features. There must be some chance Panasonic will create some 2012 freesat models as the 2010 production must have stopped and only remaining stocks or ex-display boxes currently still for sale. Prices for these have not fallen very much recently perhaps because supply is now limited.

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  13. Lee S Says:

    @ Rozzo, you are totally right when it comes to recording on the Tecnisat HDFS as it is great for recording in non freesat mode. With regards to recording on the box itself, I find a single tuner PVR more than adequate for myself especially for the price. I could not justify spending a lot of money on a good twin tuner pvr but I was unwilling to purchase a cheaper brand because of known problems. The Technisat HDFS, for the money is undoubtedly the best Freesat HD single tuner out there. I tend to work recordings accordingly so that if any clash, I always have a lot of time shift channels that I can use. This is great if there is something on another channel and I cannot be bothered to stay up late and watch it on a +1 channel for example. I never bother with BBC recordings as I can get all that I need to watch from iPlayer. If you can search the epg for repeats during the week etc, and you are not a heavy TV user, this machine works great.

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  14. ?????? Says:

    Local Currys/PC World store has withdrawn the latest Freesat leaflet so staff unsure of what Freesat has to offer so Freeview devices are getting top sales pitch.

    They havent even got a set wired up to demonstrate Freesat.

    Other stores also seem to have given Freesat the ‘push’ in favor of Freeview.

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  15. Lee S Says:

    I think a group of us should set up a pitch in each of our local Curry’s / PC World stores to promote the Freesat product. I’m sure we’ll have far superior knowledge than any of their xmas staff. Most of them haven’t a clue.

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  16. Chris Says:

    Got my own bargain: Echostar HDS-600RS and two netgear powerline adapters 2nd hand from ebay for £150!

    Bargain, really loving NHK world.

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  17. Bea Says:

    Just recently bought a free sat product, was really excited about it as I was promised that it would have a few sky channels on it. I like to watch universal channel and some of the sky 1 etc… I do not have this on my free sat.. A few days ago I bought free view for one of my children and they seem to have more channels than the free-sat, what’s up with that? I’m not happy guys, does anyone feel the same way? pure disappointment…..

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  18. admin Says:

    Bea said:
    Just recently bought a free sat product, was really excited about it as I was promised that it would have a few sky channels on it.I like to watch universal channel and some of the sky 1 etc… I do not have this on my free sat.. A few days ago I boughtfree view for one of my children and they seem to have more channels than the free-sat,what’s up with that? I’m not happy guys, does anyone feel the same way? pure disappointment…..

    Who promised Sky channels, you should take it up with them for false advertisement; Sky were never going to put their own channels on a competing platform. Freeview has 40 channels, Freesat has 150+!!!

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