Manhattan, a leading manufacturer of UK terrestrial and satellite receivers are due to launch a new Freesat SD box to rival the existing Harvard Group units, branded as Bush, Goodmans and Grundig.
The Manhattan Plaza DS-100 is believed to be launching to offer an alternative choice to consumers looking for a standard-definition receiver, rather than the more commonly purchased high-definition units available on the Freesat platform.
We suspect that the idea behind the launch is to take advantage of failings in the existing Harvard boxes which suffer from lack of connections on the back, as well as reliability and availability issues. Manhattan may have missed the opportunity to capitalise in the early days of Freesat, but should still see a good potential market from those not wishing to follow the HD craze.
This unit is due for launch mid-December through exclusive retailers initially, at a recommended retail price of £50; so on a par with the alternatives, but with the advantage of two scart connections so you can connect both to your television and a DVD/HDD/VIDEO recorder if you wish (something Harvard removed from their range some time ago to save costs!).
We’ve just been advised that Alba Group’s next consignment of Freesat SD boxes (Grundig, Goodmans and Bush) have failed pre-release testing, therefore it is suggested that there will be no further availability of Freesat SD units until late June / early July.
Are other manufacturers missing an opportunity here? We think so. Surely it wouldn’t take too much investment in time and money for an existing manufacturer such as Humax or Metronic to develop an SD version and cash in whilst Alba Group are having difficulties.
Freesat is promoted on the basis of HD as well as “free from subscription” digital TV, but there are already approx. 80,000 SD boxes in customers homes so demand is most certainly there for a cheap alternative to a HD spec’d receiver.
The question of SD receiver availability was posed to Freesat in a recent FAQ session; it will be interesting to see what their take on this situation is.
Take this with a pinch of salt as it has come from Argos customer service; but in an email to a reader (Derek) of joinfreesat, Argos have told him that they will not be receiving any more stock of Bush Freesat SD digital boxes.
The conversation came about when the reader contacted Argos to request a replacement for a faulty Bush receiver; the email response explained that their current stock had all been sold and that they would not be receiving more. One can only assume they were willing to refund but nothing more.
Thank you for your e-mail regarding the Bush Freesat Box.
I am so sorry you have not been able to order a replacement for the freesat box. We have totally sold out and we will not be getting any new stock in. I hope you can find a suitable alternative from our wide product range.
Should you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0845 640 2020.
Argos Direct E-Commerce Customer Service Team.
It’s understandable that retailers some times stop selling products, depending on how successful they are, but given that not only is the Bush brand name owned by Argos, Freesat SD boxes have been selling incredibly well and Alba Group as a whole are not able to keep up with demand.
This of course might all be Chinese whispers at Argos towers, so if we find out anything more, we’ll let you know.
Edit (28-Apr-09): We have had a subsequent response to suggest that Freesat SD boxes will be available again around the 22nd May 2009. Argos giving us the run around!
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.
It is believed that Alba Group, who currently manufacture all Freesat standard-definition digital boxes (Grundig, Goodmans and Bush) are struggling to meet the demands of their products. Supply has been massively strained over the last few weeks with many of the major retailers and independents now without stock.
In addition, it’s also suggested that Alba Group have increased their trade prices by more than £10 per unit to cover demand/manufacturing costs so expect to see retail prices rise soon to in the region of £60.
If you are looking to purchase a standard-definition Freesat Digital Box, now may be the time to buy, before either they run out everywhere, or the price increases.
Let’s hope it’s only a temporary issue as the supply has been very good for the past 8 months and the price is at an acceptable level for the products.