Metronic Set For iPlayer Launch

We have it through unconfirmed sources that Metronic plan to launch software on or around the 24th May which will include BBC iPlayer. This will be for their only Freesat receiver, the SATHD100.

Metronic are the last of the Freesat ‘receiver’ manufacturers to launch the BBC iPlayer service, with only Panasonic (schedule here) and LG remaining with their IDTV’s.

The Metronic SATHD100 is very much a middle of the range Freesat HD Digital Box, though availability of the product seems to be diminishing with John Lewis recently selling for just £79 on clearance. If Metronic read this, maybe they can contact us with news on their plans, as we’ve been unable to get any response from them!

TechniSat HDFS Freesat Group Winner

TechniSat HDFS

The TechniSat HDFS has been awarded ‘group test winner’ in a recent feature review in What Satellite Magazine.

The magazine tested the existing range of Freesat HD single tuner receivers against each other, including the TechniSat HDFS, Humax FOXSAT-HD, Sagem DSI86HD and Metronic SATHD100, with the TechniSat winning by some margin, though not really a surprise to most (we are unsure of the absence of any of the Harvard range – Grundig, Goodmans and Bush).

The final review scores were:

TechniSat 86%
Humax 80%
Metronic 75%
Sagem 69%

Metronic PVR Delayed

Following on from our announcement back in March that Metronic were developing a PVR for launch around mid-2009, we have now been informed that delays will force the launch date to be pushed back to the end of the year at the earliest.

Metronic, who had already done the initial ground work for the development of the PVR are disappointed that approval from Freesat has not happened, due to reasons undisclosed, but hope to revisit approval in around 4 months time.

In the meantime Humax remain the only manufacturer with a PVR on the market, with Panasonic expected to launch their Blu-Ray/DVD versions in June. No further news has come from Alba Group on their rumoured Freesat recorder; nor TechniSat who are expecting to launch a single tuner HD receiver towards the end of this month after their final DTG testing is completed.

Metronic expected to launch PVR mid-2009

Following on from a PVR conversation we had with Metronic back in January, the launch of their Freesat+ PVR which was expected to be around April is now hoped to launch mid 2009.

Details of the PVR receiver, expected to rival the Humax FOXSAT-HDR are still unknown, but it is believed that Metronic are just waiting on approval from Freesat before commencing with the development.

Kiran Patel, speaking on behalf of Dale Heathcote, MD of Metronic said;

PVR product, as soon as we get a sign –off from Freesat then we can start the project – possibly June/ July launch!

Metronic currently have a single tuner HD digital box (model SATHD100) available, which launched 20th December 2008 through selected retailers and is reporting good sales figures so far.

C4HD Is Your Top Priority

Well it was hardly surprising, but in conclusion of our recent poll – “What would you like to see next?” which has been running a few months, a massive 50% of you (2,762 votes) want to see C4 HD as the next service/channel to reach Freesat, beating iPlayer on 19%.

It just goes to show how many Freesat viewers have purchased on the premise of high-definition channels, and with the current shortage (BBC HD, ITV HD and *Luxe HD (*non-freesat mode)) C4 HD is so desperately wanted by many; especially considering that 60% of Freesat audience have HD digital boxes, this is a significant proportion.

So how likely is C4 HD? Well nothing much has been updated since our last post, so whilst we’ll possibly see some time this year, it’s unlikely to be the next service we receive, that honour will probably go to BBC’s iPlayer.

C4HD (50%, 2,779 votes)
BBC iPlayer (19%, 1,037 votes)
Fiver and Five US (16%, 872 votes)
Panasonic PVR/Blu-Ray (8%, 446 votes)
Sub add-on’s (Setanta…) (6%, 310 votes)
Metronic HD/PVR (1%, 80 votes)

Don’t forget to take part in our new poll, “What is your opinion of ITV HD?” (left hand column).

Metronic SATHD100 Screenshots

For all those wishing to know what the Metronic SATHD100 screenshots look like, here they are.

Thanks to Digitalspy member Jim (aviewer) for supplying the images, who managed to purchase one last Thursday from Maplins for £149.99, which arrived the next day.

Metronic EPG Guide
EPG Guide

Metronic Channel Banner
Channel Banner

Metronic Channel Genre
Channel Genre

Metronic HD Preview
HD Preview

Metronic Main Menu (Channels)
Main Menu (Channels)

Metronic Main Menu (Settings)
Main Menu (Settings)

Metronic Main Menu (Installation)
Main Menu (Installation)

Metronic Main Menu (System)
Main Menu (System)

Metronic Picture Adjustment Menu
Picture Adjustment Menu

Metronic Aspect Ratio
Aspect Ratio

Metronic Video Format
Video Format

Metronic HD and PVR Receiver News

Metronic have confirmed that their first Freesat receiver, the high-definition SATHD100 will be available from some major retailers and most independent retailers during January. Maplin are already showing this product as available to buy but we have no news on anyone successfully receiving yet.

In a conversation with Dale Heathcote, Managing Director of Metronic, he said:

Our HD box is arriving in earnest during January, I was hoping for November but we had to wait until we had approval from Freesat and the DTG and as you can appreciate this approval has taken a lot longer than we anticipated as we had to meet all the specified criteria from day one, unlike our competitors where many concessions were given in order to get their boxes released for launch.

The product will be stocked by some major retailers and most definitely the independents.

Dale is expecting to have more news available within the next couple of weeks after some important meetings.

Pricing for the HD was a question we put to Dale; as we’ve mentioned on here a few times that the price point of £150 (decided upon by the retailer, not Metronic) would probably be too high to see good returns given the existing model Alba and Humax versions already established and cheaper. Dale added:

On pricing, it depends on 2 factors, the pricing in the market place for truly competitive product; also the £/$/Euro exchange rates and the anticipated fluctuations, the changes since October have not helped any of us!

Metronic have also confirmed that they are developing a Freesat+ PVR and that it’s due for release hopefully in April 2009. Metronic are hoping to announce the technical specification and ability to record red button ITV HD shortly.

As for the DTR, we are indeed working on a model which I hope to launch in April this year. Specs will be revealed shortly including the issue you refer to.

Metronic Freesat HD Digital Box Now On Sale

Metronic SATHD100 Freesat HD Digital Box

Metronics first Freesat digital box is now in stock at Maplin, priced £149.99.

We questioned in a previous post why anyone would consider purchasing this HD receiver at such a high price, given that the Alba Group and Humax versions are already so established and priced significantly cheaper, but if you are considering a purchase, we’d love to hear the reasons why.

Buy online at MAPLIN for £149.99 inc P+P

Don’t forget to include a product review on our Metronic SATHD100 product page if you do indeed own this product.

What Should We Expect From Freesat In 2009?

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 and thanks to all of you that have contributed over the past year.

Metronic SATHD100 Freesat Review

Metronic SATHD100 Freesat HD Receiver

Metronic have finally released their first Freesat product, the SATHD100 Freesat HD Digital Box, a month later than planned, and TechRadar have written a useful review worth reading:

TechRadar Metronic SATHD100 Review

The review seems to suggest a fairly good all round receiver, although nothing ground breaking over the existing cheaper range Alba boxes (Grundig, Goodmans and Bush) or middle range Humax, with the exception of the usable USB port for playing your media files like music and video.

Priced at an initial £150 uptake will probably be slow, given the current price of the other HD receivers, but once Metronic begin to recoup the cost of manufacture, that price should drop.

At present we have not found any retailers selling this product, but it’s early days so please keep checking our Metronic SATHD100 product page for info.

Metronic are also developing a PVR version at this time, although we have been unable to confirm an ETA for release.