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FreesatWelcome to joinfreesat.co.uk, the unofficial Freesat news site. Find out the very latest information on the Freesat satellite television service, available throughout the UK. This site includes all the latest news, reviews and product details, plus where to buy online at the best price...

Freesat is a UK digital satellite TV service from the BBC/ITV which launched in May 2008. Freesat has no monthly subscription, just a one-off payment for the digital box, satellite dish and installation. It even comes with subscription-free, high-definition TV programmes. As Freesat is broadcast via satellite, it’s available to almost every household in the UK.
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Jul 14 2009

For those of you considering the purchase of a Panasonic Blu-Ray Freesat+ Receiver but have been put off by the price, you might want to know that the price has now dropped further to £779.00 plus delivery from some retailers, just weeks after launch.

So what’s the reason for such a significant drop? Well putting aside the fact that electronic products do drop after launch, there isn’t one, the trade price has been able to cope with such retail prices since launch, but with Panasonic’s rrp so high, many retailers have used this opportunity to sell at massive profits. You only have to look at the major retailers to see how many are still selling the BS850 at £999.99; nearly £200 more than other reputable sellers.

Prices will no doubt continue to fall, but at this time the trade price is static so the retail price may stick around this margin for a while.

Cheapest prices at time of posting:

Panasonic DMR-BS850 – Satbuyer – £786.00 inc delivery

Panasonic DMR-BS750 – Satbuyer – £672.00 inc delivery

Panasonic DMR-XS350 – Satbuyer – £519.00 inc delivery

Alternatively, you might want to compare more prices on our Freesat digital box product pages


May 20 2009

Panasonic Freesat Technical Specifications

Should you be interested, Panasonic have published the general and technical specifications for all three new Freesat+ receivers coming to the market in June. The DMR-BS850 and DMR-BS750 boast the UK’s first Blu-Ray recorders and 500GB/250GB hard drives respectively, whilst the DMR-XS350 offers a DVD recorder and 250 HDD.

Panasonic DMR-BS850 Product Page
Panasonic DMR-BS750 Product Page
Panasonic DMR-XS350 Product Page

At present there doesn’t seem to be any user manuals available, but sure they will be added soon…plus Panasonic need to change the DMR-XS350 page so it doesn’t state being compatible with “Freeview+”.


May 18 2009

TrustedReviews

TrustedReviews have published an in-depth review and assessment of the soon to be released Panasonic Freesat Blu-Ray Recorders. The more we read about it, the more we look forward to its release, although there is no escaping that price tag, no matter how keen you are on your technology.

The review goes in to a good level of detail and includes a few pages of images. We won’t summaries it, just have a read/look yourself.

Check out the review from TrustedReviews here


Apr 15 2009

Panasonic Freesat Blu-Ray PVR

Following on from the announcement we made back in February that Panasonic were to launch a range of Blu-Ray HDD PVR’s, we now have more news available following their demo at Panasonic UK in Bracknell on Tuesday.

The three models available will launch 20 June 2009 and include two Blu-Ray models (DMR-BS850 and DMR-BS750) and one DVD-R model (DMR-X350). The premium DMR-BS850 will include a 500GB HDD with an initial rrp of £999. The DMR-BS750 with the smaller 250GB HDD will come in at £899. The final base range model, the DMR-X350 is fitted with a DVD recorder instead of Blu-Ray, plus 250GB HDD for £699. These prices certainly suggest the products are being aimed at the enthusiast side of the market, although expect prices to drop after a couple of months.

All three units come with Freesat twin tuners allowing you with the aid of two cables from your satellite dish the ability to record two channels whilst playing back a previously recorded programme; or alternatively recording two channels whilst watching a Blu-Ray/DVD.

The Freesat EPG allows for single programme and series link recording, plus ‘split’ recording for those pesky occasions where films are broken into two parts usually by the news. As with the Humax FOXSAT-HDR, this software is also capable of giving you the option of SD or HD recording should that programme be available in both.

Each PVR comes compatible with Viera Cast, Panasonic’s proprietary internet portal that’s standard across its entire 2009 Blu-Ray range and many of its latest televisions.

The two Blu-Ray models have on-board decoders for Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD Master Audio, and the premium DMR-BS850 gets upgraded audio components such as a better quality DAC and gold-plated terminals.

Coming complete with an SD card slot and 2 x USB connections, the digital receivers will also allow Panasonic camcorder users the option of saving their AVCHD files to the hard drive. Similarly you’ll be able to store music (with Gracenote support) and images from your digital camera (JPEG format).

On the same subject, there is also a built-in music jukebox with 350,000 album and song titles pre-installed from the Gracenote database. This can be updated via the web using the recorder’s Ethernet connection. The Ethernet port will also be iPlayer compatible when it launched in the Autumn.

There will be five quality modes available when recording to the HDD or a Blu-Ray disc; these are DR (14mbps), HG (12mbps), HX (8mbps), HE (5mbps) and the lowest quality HL (4mbps). In the highest quality DR mode you can store 77 hours of high-definition content on the 500GB HDD, 37.5 hours on the 250GB HDD and 7.5 hours on a blank 50GB dual-sided Blu-ray disc. Switch to the lowest quality HL mode and you’ll get 240 hours on the 500GB HDD, 120 hours on the 250GB HDD and 24 hours on a 50GB Blu-ray disc.

Both Blu-Ray versions come complete with 6x BD-R capability, allowing fast copying to disc. The units will be 50GB compatible with 100GB Blu-Ray discs expected in 2010.

The one sticking point is the copy protection flags available for broadcasters, allowing them to select the type of recording available on their programmes; such as unlimited recording, once or never. Whilst you’ll of course be able to record to the HDD, transferring to Blu-Ray may not be possible; it would depend on the broadcaster.

More information on these new Freesat PVR’s can be found on Panasonic’s HD Everything page.


Feb 24 2009

Finally, after much rumour and denial, Panasonic are to release a Freesat PVR HDD Blu-Ray recorder from May, model number DMR-BS850. The announcement was made at the company’s European press launch in Amsterdam this afternoon.

Panasonic DMR-BS850 Freesat Blu-ray (front)
(image courtesy of Trustedreviews)

Little information is known of the new Freesat+ digital box, but what we can confirm is that it will be a twin tuner, with storage capacity of 500GB, plus Blu-Ray recorder. The receiver will also have a SD card reader and USB port for viewing images and video etc, plus Ethernet connection for future Freesat services such as iPlayer, as well as Panasonic’s own Internet content delivery system, Viera Cast.

Panasonic DMR-BS850 Freesat Blu-ray (back)
(image courtesy of Pocket-Lint)

A smaller capacity 250GB HDD version will allow be launched, model number DMR-BS750. Prices of either are yet to be confirmed, but the 500GB model is expected to retail for around £1,000.

Strictly speaking the combination of Freesat HDD and Blu-Ray should allow the recording of HD content onto Blu-Ray disc, although Panasonic do not wish to comment for obvious copyright issues.

If you feel either of these receivers might be a little rich for you, then Panasonic are also launching a non-BluRay version with DVD recover instead, model DMR-XS350. This will feature a 250GB hard drive.

Additional connections (certainly of the DMR-BS850) include HDMI, USB, Ethernet, Component Video Out, S-Video Out, SCART (TV and Video), Coaxial Digital Audio Out and Optical Digital Audio Out.

Panasonic DMR-BS850 Freesat Blu-ray (connections)
(image courtesy of Pocket-Lint)

Once again, well done Panasonic for taking the initiative and producing some pretty special Freesat products for us to drool over.

More details to follow as we have them, the official launch material has not yet been made available…


Dec 29 2008

With 2009 fast approaching, what can we expect from Freesat in the new year? Our poll which continues on the left hand side would suggest that more than 50% of you want C4HD as a priority, but in reality will that happen? We know that C4HD is currently tied into agreement (encrypted) with Sky so unless they can terminate early, or the contract concludes in 2009, can we expect this channel at all in the coming year! We will continue to try and find out the in’s and out’s of the contract, but if anyone knows linked to C4 or Sky, let us know.

So what is more likely to appear in 2009? Well BBC are still promising the on-demand iPlayer, directly linked to your Freesat digital box via the Ethernet port. This seems likely to go ahead around spring time, assuming no further delays. Kangaroo looks dead in the water at this point.

Will we see more manufacturers on board? Possible, talks are on-going with a number of large manufacturers although given the current economic climate, this could be a little longer than expected. It’s certain that Metronic will have their HD digital box out soon, although retailing at £150 wouldn’t result in many sales. Metronic’s PVR receiver is also due within the first quarter of 2009, although again, this could be delayed given that the HD receiver from them already has. Alba Group are said to be developing a PVR too, but no timescale as yet, and rumours of Panasonic working on a combined PVR and Blu-ray player/recorder just won’t go away, although the official PR release at this stage is that nothing is in the pipe-line.

So what about other channels? Well Freesat’s target of 200 channels has not yet been reached, so the remaining FTA channels can certainly be expected in the coming months, although will this include FTA channels such as Sky News, we are still awaiting confirmation (don’t forget Sky News and others can be added in non-freesat mode). Will channel Five manage to find space on 2D to bring us Fiver and Five US, lets hope so. As for other channels, well many still expect that the line-up should/will match Freeview, but that’s highly unlikely, as channels such as Dave, UK Gold etc are tied into subscription contracts on DSAT with Sky, so unless these channels/networks can find ways of raising revenue through advertising rather than subscription, it’s not going to happen unless Freesat’s viewing audience substantially increases.

Most will no doubt agree that ITV HD need to drastically improve the quality and quantity of HD programming, at the very least to match a constantly improving BBC HD. Would ITV HD benefit from having a separate channel than using the existing red button facility? Maybe, but the possible downside of this would be access to the channel via Sky, which in-turn could reduce Freesat’s potential viewing figures.

Rather than expected, we hope that BBC and ITV can improve the quality of sound on Freesat, with many, if not all programmes being broadcast in stereo, rather than Dolby 5.1 allowing us to enjoy films etc in surround sound quality. This must surely be a priority?

The platform thus far has been largely successful, but lets hope for an even better year ahead for Freesat, with increased popularity and exposure.

Happy new year from all involved with joinfreesat.co.uk and thanks to all of you that have contributed over the past year.


Oct 15 2008

Panasonic have hinted at a PVR with 500GB hard drive and Integrated Blu-ray Recorder for the UK Freesat platform. It’s said to be based on the recently launched DMR-BW500 to the French market, featuring an integrated twin HD Digital Tuner for FTA broadcasting, making it possible to record two digital programmes simultaneously.

We are waiting on news from Panasonic’s PR company to see if we can get confirmation of intended release, but the second quarter of 2009 is expected, with a premium price tag of £500 plus.

Speaking briefly at IFA 2008, Michael Friedrich, Manager of Product Marketing at Panasonic said,

…so in the UK we are in close discussion with Freesat. The technology is a bit different that’s why can not simply use the France version. In France its based on DVB-T, the UK version will be satellite. But we are in discussions, and will conclude when it will come to UK soon.

The likelyhood of this going ahead is high, Panasonic like to make use of their products in as many ways as possible, so if you are waiting for a unit capable of all this in one box, then this might be for you.

Partial news courtesy of PVR Junction.