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Apr 06 2009

Once again there appears to be a shortage in supply of Freesat SD Digital Boxes. At present all Freesat SD receivers are manufactured by Alba Group, in the brand names of Grundig, Goodmans and Bush.

It would seem that Alba Group have taken the decision to build to order only, rather than producing large volumes to meet future demand.

Whilst this can be understood from a financial perspective, especially in today’s market, it doesn’t exactly promote Freesat in a good light when the low cost option is not available in-store or online.

There is certainly a good opportunity for further manufacturers to come on board and build low cost options to compete with Alba Group’s lack of supply, but it seems those already in agreement with Freesat (Humax, Metronic and TechniSat) don’t see standard-definition only boxes as a priority.

We can’t seem to get a response from Alba Group on why they have taken this approach, but will pursue Freesat for their opinion on the current shortage/situation.

17 Responses to “Shortage Of Freesat SD Boxes Continues”

  1. Baron Says:

    “We can’t seem to get a response from Alba Group”

    that doesn’t surprise me, there are lots of upset people that can’t get a response from Alba over the SD box colour smear issue and the juddering picture since the last software update, maybe you could ask Freesat to get on Alba’s case over their customer service or not as is the case !

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  2. Wouter Says:

    why not create HD boxes only? it is the same as making a TV which is not HD ready. The future is HD, HD is now, lets make HD boxes now.
    (I was surprised with the relative high % of SD boxes being sold)
    When only HD boxes would be produced, the price could drop as well.

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  3. PPS Audio Visual Says:

    HD only boxes would be good, however there are a lot of older people who still have a CRT TV who just want to be digital ready, satellite is a big step for them and until all the old CRT’s have been replaced we must continue to product SD boxes. Freesat should be looking at other manufactures and not just offering the current selection of poor quality SD boxes.

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  4. Lee B Says:

    I do think HD only boxes for freesat is logical, that way the purchaser is future proofed, and the broadcaster can use the AVC/H264 & DVB-S2 standards in the HD boxes to allow for a lot more SD channels in the same bandwidth, thus saving them money and increasing choice and maybe picture quality for the public. The more HD boxes sold should also help to drive the HD channels forward.

    With more HD boxes being produced the cost of the boxes should fall as well, and thus everyone will benefit. Just my 2p’s worth.

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  5. Director Says:

    It’s a scandal, We are a UK based Company that designs set top boxes for other manufacturers around to world to produce and sell.

    We already have High Def Satellite and built in Freeview Terrestrial tuners ,they have USB ports for MP3 , JPEGS network ports etc.

    It can already receive BBC HD and ITV HD,
    All it needs a software upgrade to make it fully freesat .

    but to get the freesat logo we need to get in with them and their door is firmly shut to outsiders , We are not alone their are others in the UK that has freesat compatible products that are way beyond what is available now but UK companies are not being invited in to this party for some reason !

    We are not big but have the expertise to product freesat boxes that would be far above in terms of what is already on the market

    But when it comes to freesat we cannot get a lookin when in Scandal !

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  6. Lee B Says:

    I do believe anyone who can produce a freesat box that meets or exceeds the freesat spec should be able to make them, it can only increase consumer choice and normally bring down prices. A freesat box that supports a usb drive would sell like hot cakes!

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  7. Tony Says:

    #3 PPS Audio Visual : Thanks for acting a spokesman for us older folks. In my experience it is not only us oldies who have trouble understanding what day of the week it is!

    My SD box cost about half what the cheapest HD offering was – and does everything I want. I have no interest in HD and see no reson why I should pay the extra simply because “HD is now”. Sadly, there has always been a shortage of SD boxes – presumably because there is more profit in HD.

    Freeview will offer much better coverage than it does now after analogue switch-off and is still on course to offer 4 HD channels by the end of the year.

    I thought Argos had taken over Alba’s freesat interests, so should we be looking to Argos for answers, not Alba?

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  8. Tony Hales Says:

    Freeview will not have 4 HD channels before the analog switch off is complete in 2012.
    Argos bought the Bush name from Alba nothing more than that.

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  9. Tony Says:

    Tony Hales – The Digital Television Group (DTG) website says :-
    “Some UK viewers will be able to watch High Definition (HD) on Freeview by the end of 2009, Ofcom has announced.

    The regulator has reserved capacity for HD services on Freeview for ITV, UTV, stv, Channel TV, and Channel 4 and S4C.

    These public service broadcasters join the BBC in being able to broadcast in HD on Freeview, with services becoming available on a region by region basis as the country switches over to digital TV.”

    I thought Argos had acquired the rights to keep manufacturing some product lines which Alba were planning to drop, together with the Goodmans, Grundig and Bush names. Admin – HELP!

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  10. admin Says:

    Argos have purchased the Bush brand name, plus maybe Goodmans, but Alba Group continue to manufacture for them. Whether this means Argos have exclusive rights to Bush I’m not sure, but it’s not the case with Goodmans as they have been recently available through the independent distribution chain.

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  11. Steve Says:

    There is still a market for Freesat SD boxes. Not everyone will want to pay the extra for the HD versions. What about people who already have Freesat (HD or Freesat +) and want to install Freesat at a lower cost in a kitchen/bedroom for example.

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  12. Andrew1 Says:

    Argos has the UK rights to the Alba and Bush brand names, plus the designs and sourcing contracts for products previously sold by Alba Group plc under those two brand names.

    Harvard International plc (formerly Alba Group plc) sells Freesat and other products under its wholly-owned brand name Goodmans plus, under licence, Grundig.

    So, both Argos and Harvard should be challenged. Particularly Argos as it has won award for its supply chain! http://www.homeretailgroup.com/home/media/hrg/corpnews/2008/2008-11-11/

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  13. AndrewM Says:

    #7,8 and 9 – There will be 3 HD channels on Freeview starting either late this year or early next year in each region as it switches over to digital. By 2010 or 2011 there will be a fourth HD channel on Freeview, either Film 4 HD (with S4C children’s content in the morning) or Five HD.

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  14. Nick Clark Says:

    Hi All,

    I totally agree about the shortage of SD Freesat boxes – it was obvious to me when I tried to source one for my parents’ CRT television set-up. I eventually scored a Goodmans one at a local Argos for £39.99. However it took a lot of hunting around and I only found this box via a google search that took me to the page – it was not openly listed on the Argos website. Bizarre!

    You would think that with the switch-off now upon us there would never be a better time to shift Freesat boxes than now – irrespective of whether it is an SD or HD one…

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  15. Rod Aries Says:

    I’m not interested in paying for a HD only version of the Freesat box. It’s at least 90+ pounds dearer.

    Besides, to view HD in all it’s glory I also need to purchase a 42 ” screen, considering the distance I sit from the screen. That would be the minimum size!

    Maybe next year, but a decent 50 pound box for SD Freesat would do nicely, if we can found one!

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  16. Tony Says:

    Rod Aries – If you are willing to compromise you can get the Humax HD (non-recording) box from Humaxdirect.co.uk for £89. It will drive an SD set through SCART and be ready for HD through HDMI when you buy that 42″+ screen.

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  17. Rod Aries Says:

    Hi Tony,

    Thanks for the top tip! Much appreciated.

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