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.