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Sep 04 2012

Freesat launches new TV guide called <free time>Freesat, the UK’s free-to-air digital satellite television provider, today launches a new smart on-screen TV guide, available in its next generation Freesat+ boxes (originally dubbed “G2″).

Called <free time>, the service offers new features in a single, simple and easy to use guide:

- A backwards TV guide letting you turn back time and watch programmes that have already been on, but you may have missed
- An ‘at a glance’ Now & Next view to show what’s on the minute you sit down
- A new Showcase section that offers recommendations on programmes to watch tonight, in the coming week and on demand
- *On Demand TV from BBC iPlayer and ITV Player with 4OD and Demand 5 launching before Christmas
- Improved recordings that make it even easier to record TV at a touch of a button and find episodes automatically filed into series – just like a DVD boxset

Showcase section that offers recommendations on programmes to watch
Showcase section that offers recommendations on programmes to watch

The next generation Freesat+ boxes join the existing range of Freesat digital satellite HD boxes and integrated HDTVs and will be available to buy from John Lewis, Currys, Comet and other retailers and online later this month. Set top box manufacturer Humax is producing the first new box with <free time> and will be priced at £279. Boxes from Sagemcom, Philips and Manhattan will follow.

Connecting the box to home broadband will power the backward TV guide, give access to On Demand and the full Showcase. Freesat is also planning to launch additional movie and music services in the future.

Backwards TV guide letting you watch programmes that have already been on
Backwards TV guide letting you watch programmes that have already been on

Developed using widely adopted European open standards for hybrid TV including elements of OIPF, HbbTV and HTML 5 browser technology, <free time> will offer additional services and features in the future, including a companion app for smartphones and tablets to create remote control and remote record capability away from the traditional remote.

Emma Scott, Managing Director of Freesat said:

TV is a simple pleasure that technology can make even better, not more complicated. Our new boxes with <free time> give satellite viewers everything they get with freesat today and so much more in a single, simple and easy to use on screen guide. We want to help viewers find something great to watch the minute they sit down, so they can spend less time searching and more time watching the TV they love.

Having now exceeded 2.6m Freesat sales we’re thrilled to be launching <free time> today and offer satellite homes more quality, choice and value without a subscription.

More info on the official site

The first receiver to launch will be the Humax HDR-1000S 500GB, technical specification and images here.

51 Responses to “Freesat launches new TV guide called <free time>”

  1. stigbeater Says:

    so does this mean no more on demand like 4OD and Demand5 coming to the older boxes?
    if so i think this may upset some of the people that have got a freesat box already.
    i know things need to be upgraded but you still got to look after the people that got you to this ponit in the first place and not just forget about them.:-)

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  2. bob Says:

    They should add all the catchup channels to the FOXSAT HDR!

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  3. Rob Puricelli Says:

    As someone so aptly put on the Freesat Facebook post, “How to be pleased and then pissed off in 2 minutes”. I understand it’s new tech, but having invested £250 in a Freesat box already, I’m loathed to shell out another £279 for a new EPG. I’m quite disappointed that they couldn’t integrate this via an upgrade to existing boxes.

    I love that Freesat are making progress like this, adding new value to an already great service, but leaving your existing user base stranded like this isn’t a great idea. Already, comparisons with Sky are being drawn by some.

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  4. admin Says:

    I’m updating the post all the time as more information is released, so please keep checking back.

    Freesat and the manufacturer’s have to draw the line somewhere on new services and can’t keep supporting them going forward. Humax have already added so many services to their existing receivers but in technology terms, they are getting old now so the new receiver will be recommended for those that want to keep up.

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  5. Andrew Says:

    The features sound good and it will be interesting to see how the platform compares over time with YouView on paid-for on demand services.

    One concern to most people must be the immediate lack of catch-up services from Channels 4 and 5, particularly as YouView has delivered on this front. Forums abound with stories of Freeesat customers who have been let down on this front before. I suspect, like me, they will adopt a wait-and-see approach before purchasing a G2 box.

    Philips is now listed as a Freesat brand. Its Freeview PVRs are now made by Sagemcom, instead of Pace. I suspect that its Freesat offering will be a rebadged Sagemcom but nonetheless it is a useful for Freesat to have such a well-known and trusted household name on board.

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  6. Richard Crichton Says:

    I thought Philips had given up on consumer electronics and just made grooming products and such like. I wonder if the design is their own. I’m surprised to see Humax launching first as Sagecom was announced as lead manufacturer.Humax at £279 is cheaper than their YouView box

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  7. Rob Puricelli Says:

    admin said:
    Freesat and the manufacturer’s have to draw the line somewhere on new services and can’t keep supporting them going forward. Humax have already added so many services to their existing receivers but in technology terms, they are getting old now so the new receiver will be recommended for those that want to keep up.

    To a point, I agree. When there is a significant change to the tech, such as HD, I can totally accept it. However, the new EPG is, to all intents and purposes, a revamp and conglomeration of existing technologies already available in the box. It just brings them all together in a convenient, attractive wrapper. From what I can tell, the changes are in software, not hardware, if you are looking at it from the perspective of Humax’s existing HDR.

    But, I’m sure Freesat have built a contingency into their strategy that allows for some users abandoning the service whilst attracting new business with the new toys.

    The term “free” loses it’s meaning when you have to shell out £250+ every couple of years to keep up.

    And this is by no means a dig at you and your excellent service here at joinfreesat.co.uk :-) Keep up the excellent work!

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  8. admin Says:

    Rob Puricelli said: To a point, I agree. When there is a significant change to the tech, such as HD, I can totally accept it. However, the new EPG is, to all intents and purposes, a revamp and conglomeration of existing technologies already available in the box. It just brings them all together in a convenient, attractive wrapper. From what I can tell, the changes are in software, not hardware, if you are looking at it from the perspective of Humax’s existing HDR.

    Sadly not the case, the new EPG requires a significant increase in processing power which requires a whole new chipset. This is the reason why Samsung initially said their receiver would be upgradable to G2 spec then removed the statement after realising it wasn’t possible on the existing hardware.

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  9. Eamonn Says:

    I have the Samsung (and luckily a 5 year guarantee from Richer Sounds) and as it seems Samsung will never fix the problems inherant in the box I may well get a refund and pay the difference to get one of these boxes.

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  10. admin Says:

    Just added that BBC iPlayer and ITV Player will use the HTML format so full on-demand versions available which is great.

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  11. MPD Says:

    Will iPlayer and ITV Player continue to be supported on 1st gen boxes?
    I suppose the real question is will the BBC and ITV continue the broadcast element required for these services?
    I will upgrade, but not until my current box fails.

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  12. Edward Says:

    While it’s great to hear that 4OD and Demand5 are coming to Freesat along with a nice new EPG, it’s extremely disappointing that this will not apply to older boxes such as mine.
    Living on a pension, I have to be very careful with outgoings and I could never justify forking out over £250 to replace my still functioning Humax HDR with a newer version.
    Can somebody please reassure me that BBC iPlayer and ITV Player will continue to be supported on my receiver.
    Might it be possible to offer a trade-in for first generation boxes with the new G2 ones?

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  13. Alex Says:

    Hi,

    Have to correct you admin, ITV Player is not HTML, it’s MHEG.

    iPlayer and ITV Player will continue to be supported.

    G1 hardware does not have enough processing power to run the new EPG – it is very demanding.

    Best,

    Alex

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  14. admin Says:

    Alex said:
    Have to correct you admin, ITV Player is not HTML, it’s MHEG.

    Oh that’s interesting, Freesat told me differently but I trust your knowledge more than theirs ;)

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  15. steven Says:

    I have a freesat tv panisonc iv had for a year will i get an update for this new guide i thought i might have had an update for this

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  16. Nathan Says:

    I am really disappointed, 2 years in coming for the G2 spec and basically it does catchup tv via the epg and (not even 4od and 5 on demand are ready) a few extras that we can already do with the moded humax firmware like remote record and remote control from a browser.

    Where is the Humax Tv portal apps and all the other internet video streams? like blinkbox/hulu/you tube/now tv etc…Radio Player app etc… official DLNA support for Networking multiple boxes, superior Tivo like search facilities…

    The same goes for youview too. The d-link boxee box and topfield pvrs were more advanced!

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  17. Robert Wilson Says:

    The new box is great, and is needed to keep up Freesat sales; unless Freesat remains “current” then the alternatives will strip sales from them.

    In all honesty, though, it really doesn’t offer much more to most people than the current boxes, so I can’t see many people upgrading.

    I’m not sure how many people have the speedy, unlimited broadband packages that such a device needs to be fully utilised, anyway.

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  18. antony Says:

    Does it say which christmas 4OD and 5OD will be ready, will keep my wallet closed until they all work

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  19. Neil Says:

    I like the look of the new EPG and think this is definitely a move in the right direction by freesat. Yes there will be disappointed people who feel cheated by the fact that current generation kit doesn’t support the newer updated look and feel of the product but that’s life – being a Panasonic owner I’ve been in that position for a while now and you have to either live with it or put your hand in your pocket, I’ve chosen to live with it!

    Freesat needed some ‘bite’ to snap back at Sky’s continual product improvement and this is it, a good bit of competition for their ‘Anytime’ service and with Humax on board with a new product to replace the HDR they’ve still got the top hardware player in the game which is good.

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  20. Bruce Says:

    I think you want to concentrate on getting some more channels od freestat
    and not on updating boxes to download rubbish from the internet

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  21. Al Catraz Says:

    antony said:
    Does it say which christmas 4OD and 5OD will be ready, will keep my wallet closed until they all work

    I agree – too much vapourware from freesat for my liking – a new epg is not enough reason to upgrade – I’m also going to wait and see what develops.

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  22. Rich Says:

    Wasn’t one of the G2 box specs meant to allow 1 satellite input to run two tuners? Or did I imagine that?

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  23. Derek (original) Says:

    admin said:
    Freesat and the manufacturer’s have to draw the line somewhere on new services and can’t keep supporting them going forward. Humax have already added so many services to their existing receivers but in technology terms, they are getting old now so the new receiver will be recommended for those that want to keep up.

    I think the key words are, “for those who want to keep up”. I have a Humax HDR and a Panasonic TV that has a Freesat tuner. Both have proven to be reliable and involved a significant financial investment. I therefore can’t see myself upgrading to a G2 receiver in the forseeable future. I suspect this may be the position taken by a significant proportion of existing Freesat users. Perhaps we could have a new poll, to see what percentage of existing Freesat users would consider upgrading.

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  24. Martin Says:

    Looks good defenatly on a winner looks moden which is what freesat needs to compete don’t know the price of the box yet but yes I would consider buying one for Christmas

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  25. Pete Says:

    Looks awesome TBH. I think i may need a new box…………..

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  26. TimK Says:

    As with all new boxes the phrase “to be added/available soon” regarding new features should be taken with a big pinch of salt. Many freesat users have waited for those additional features to appear but they never did.

    Having just upgraded my existing Humax to 1TB I won’t be rushing out and buying a G2 spec. With an over abundance of disk space and many channels offering multiple repeats/+1s of programes it’s not hard to schedule recordings and never miss a program. I’m organized and plan my recordings a week in advance (as that’s all you can do) so resort to catch up TV maybe once a year. More channels and more HD would generally be near the top of the list for most viewers. (Obviously not a HUMAX issue).

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  27. Bob H Says:

    There is significant headroom in this new platform to build a range of new services, there are new security facilities to enable premium content. Someone could probably write an entire article about how the new UI system is constructed, because it is quite an innovation. All of the UI is actually built inside a web-technology HTML framework (read up on OIPF), you will almost never see anything of the ‘C’ used in previous products. This makes it significantly easier to make changes and extend things. All that, lashings of RAM and one of the most powerful processors on the market? This thing has legs.

    Bob

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  28. admin Says:

    Bob H said:
    There is significant headroom in this new platform to build a range of new services, there are new security facilities to enable premium content. Someone could probably write an entire article about how the new UI system is constructed, because it is quite an innovation. All of the UI is actually built inside a web-technology HTML framework (read up on OIPF), you will almost never see anything of the ‘C’ used in previous products. This makes it significantly easier to make changes and extend things. All that, lashings of RAM and one of the most powerful processors on the market? This thing has legs.
    Bob

    The benefits of using opera hey! Hope the service develops into something very impressive. Bob, are you able to confirm some more of the technical specifics of the receiver, i.e. will it work fully via one cable if the customer has a SCR LNB? Can 5.1 be transferred through HDMI?

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  29. Nathan Says:

    Bob H said:
    There is significant headroom in this new platform to build a range of new services, there are new security facilities to enable premium content. Someone could probably write an entire article about how the new UI system is constructed, because it is quite an innovation. All of the UI is actually built inside a web-technology HTML framework (read up on OIPF), you will almost never see anything of the ‘C’ used in previous products. This makes it significantly easier to make changes and extend things. All that, lashings of RAM and one of the most powerful processors on the market? This thing has legs.
    Bob

    That is what I was hoping to hear Bob, so does this mean we will see some/any of the humax tv portal apps available on it before launch?

    Also Bob, you have probably seen what clever features we have been able to add to the existing box and that was even without an official api! is there any chance of an api/using OIPF to allow us to develop extended features and submit them to humax for inclusion in future updates – just like the old topfield pvr which allowed us to add so many extra facilities – like imdb series information on films and tv programmes allowing us to search for films in the epg with certain actors in it etc.

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  30. allansanders Says:

    will i be able to record youtube with a browser like i can do with apple tv?

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  31. Andrew Says:

    Eamonn said:
    I have the Samsung (and luckily a 5 year guarantee from Richer Sounds) and as it seems Samsung will never fix the problems inherant in the box I may well get a refund and pay the difference to get one of these boxes.

    It sounds like this has occurred per news article.

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  32. Richard Crichton Says:

    Yeah all very well but does it have easy non freesat mode like Manhattan boxes or do you still have to go into setup to access it. Backwards EPG no use to me so I won’t be investing in Freetime just for a more flash looking guide and a few apps which can be had elsewhere already. Can you rearrange the channel listings and have all the HD in one place for example. If not its bleep imho.

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  33. admin Says:

    I’m compiling a number of questions from those that have been raised and will see if I can get clarification from Freesat. The HD category is one I’m also keen to confirm, plus a few others.

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  34. Mick Boreham Says:

    @Admin
    A couple of questions spring to mind if you could pose them.

    I understand that the Foxsat HDR and other older equipment won’t handle the new EPG due to hardware contraints but will they handle 4OD and Demand Five – surely if they can handle iPlayer and ITV Player then they should be able to give basic level functionality to 4OD and Demand Five – if this is the case then it is a good message to get out to placate any disgruntled first generation equipment owners.
    Second question – Does the Humax Freetime Box still allow transfer of content off the box via Flashdrive or external HDD?

    Cheers

    Mick

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  35. admin Says:

    Mick Boreham said:
    @Admin
    A couple of questions spring to mind if you could pose them.
    I understand that the Foxsat HDR and other older equipment won’t handle the new EPG due to hardware contraintsbut will they handle 4OD and Demand Five – surely if they can handle iPlayer and ITV Player then they should be able to give basic level functionality to 4OD and Demand Five – if this is the case then it is a good message to get out to placate any disgruntled first generation equipment owners.
    Second question –Does the Humax Freetime Box still allow transfer of content off the box via Flashdrive or external HDD?
    Cheers
    Mick

    Mick, questions have been sent already but your second one was included. As for the first, I think it is unlikely to be included in any existing G1 receiver, but don’t know for sure at this stage.

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  36. Mick Boreham Says:

    Thanks for the response but if G1 boxes like Foxsat can support catch up TV at a basic level as they do already then why can’t they the support 4OD and Demand 5 without the new EPG? Are the catch up services including iPlayer and ITV Player to be totally embedded with the new EPG so you can’t access them at all with an older generation box?

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  37. admin Says:

    Mick Boreham said:
    Thanks for the response but if G1 boxes like Foxsat can support catch up TVat a basic levelas they do already then why can’t they the support 4OD and Demand 5 without the new EPG?Are the catch up services including iPlayer and ITV Player to be totally embedded with the new EPG so you can’t access them at all with an older generation box?

    Everyone on-demand service requires a different software setup, so whilst BBC and ITV’s services will continue to work on the G1 boxes (if already available), it would most likely be down to the manufacturers as to whether they want to try and incorporate the others too. All just speculation of course.

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  38. Bob H Says:

    Building catch-up services is a decision of the broadcasters themselves, if they don’t want to address a particular platform then that must be their decision. There are two major factors in deciding to target the G1 platform: 1) Supporting MHEG, some broadcasters don’t want to go that direction. 2) Content security, they may not be satisfied with the security measures available on G1. In addition they have the challenge of where they put their resources (which cost money). Addressing the new platform is logically easy because it can be re-used on a much larger range of target devices (particularly internet enabled TVs) which also use web technologies. Supporting MHEG on Freesat is a more challenging decision for a brand.

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  39. Bob H Says:

    As for future functionality of the product, the past has taught me to promise nothing that involves other people in making decisions.

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  40. NJ Says:

    Loving the look of the new hybrid EPG, great step forward. I understand not everyone will want to upgrade for the newer features I however will more than happily spend the additional, then let my parents have my old HDR (once I’ve transferred the recordings I can to the new box)

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  41. Tim Wilkinson Says:

    Developments like this just upset the existing user base, who have shelled out large sums of cash for now obsolete boxes, unless a firmware upgrade is on the way (and it sounds like it isn’t).

    Why can’t we have a useful addition to the channel list like Film4 HD or 5HD rather than gimmicks that are just designed to extort more cash from the viewers?

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  42. admin Says:

    Tim Wilkinson said:
    Developments like this just upset the existing user base, who have shelled out large sums of cash for now obsolete boxes, unless a firmware upgrade is on the way (and it sounds like it isn’t).
    Why can’t we have a useful addition to the channel list like Film4 HD or 5HD rather than gimmicks that are just designed to extort more cash from the viewers?

    Obsolete? Maybe you have misunderstood what this product is; it offers additional services on new receivers, it doesn’t take away from the existing ones! When new channels launch, they will be available on both setups, but Freesat can’t force broadcasters to launch channels and terminate existing contracts elsewhere.

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  43. Re html5 or MHEG Says:

    With regard to an earlier conversation about on demand tv it can be both HTML 5 and MHEG this is because the latter is a video standard whilst HTML 5 is a coding language that allows the embedding of video but is. not of itself a video standard .

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  44. John M Says:

    If my Humax box isn’t upgraded and CH4/5 OD not available I will switch to Youview.

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  45. mat Says:

    the best option for those of us that want to watch catchup tv is to connect your laptop/pc to the tv and stream stuff like iplayer etc from your computer, as these services will always work from a PC, and wont require you to buy a new machine everytime they do a software update,

    Or do like I’ve done and buy a little stand alone pc base unit for about £120 and use this as a media centre.

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  46. Jon Says:

    I’m also very disappointed that 4od and Demand5 won’t be coming to older freesat boxes, particularly when Freesat have said they were coming soon over a year ago. My unit is only 18 months old; I would have expected it to be supported for at least 5 years. It does make me tempted to go back to Sky, as at least they support their boxes for a long time, and the lack of HD channels on Freesat is starting to get to me! Still annoying that Recording from Live Pause has not been sorted out on the Foxsat. I feel that existing Freesat customers have been let down.

    Just had an idea. What about a trade in for existing owners to upgrade to Freesat Anytime? I think I’d pay upto £100 max.

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  47. admin Says:

    Jon said:
    I’m also very disappointed that 4od and Demand5 won’t be coming to older freesat boxes, particularly when Freesat have said they were coming soon over a year ago. My unit is only 18 months old; I would have expected it to be supported for at least 5 years. It does make me tempted to go back to Sky, as at least they support their boxes for a long time, and the lack of HD channels on Freesat is starting to get to me! Still annoying that Recording from Live Pause has not been sorted out on the Foxsat. I feel that existing Freesat customers have been let down.

    Not really sure you can compare freesat with Sky. Ultimately if you want to pay Sky £22/month upwards, you would expect more support for on-demand/interactive services and HD options etc.

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  48. conor Says:

    before I buy this box freesat need to add 4 Or 5 hd channels on to there E P G to justify the cost of the box to all there customers and bbc and itv have to broad cast some 3d also eg movie and sport and 1 Or 2 sports channels fta also

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  49. Dazzer Says:

    This is such bad news for Freesat…..the box is stupidly expensive, especially when Talk Talk are giving YouView boxes for FREE!

    I notice that Freesat is now finally hitting the supermarket shelves – however these are what Freesat are calling the “old” boxes. What a missed opportunity for Freesat to give their EPG a revamp for all, giving their service a fresh and modern look that would have appealed to the mass market.

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  50. admin Says:

    Dazzer said:
    This is such bad news for Freesat…..the box is stupidly expensive, especially when Talk Talk are giving YouView boxes for FREE!

    Not exactly free though are they; you are tied to a TalkTalk contract which costs almost as much as buying the unit yourself.

    I notice that Freesat is now finally hitting the supermarket shelves – however these are what Freesat are calling the “old” boxes.What a missed opportunity for Freesat to give their EPG a revamp for all,giving their service a fresh and modern look that would have appealed to the mass market.

    The new EPG cannot be rolled out to existing boxes; they simply don’t have the capacity/processing power to run it. This is what happens with technology, it moves on.

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  51. conor Says:

    as what i said before freesat before this freetime they should of had at least 10 hd channels on freesat then launched freetime nothing more nothing less than that

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