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).

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

Panasonic Freesat LCD’s Now Available

Well, Panasonic did say that their 32in and 37in LCD’s with Freesat built-in would launch in October, just didn’t realise it would be so late in October!

We have created the price comparison pages for them, so if you are interested in purchasing, take advantage of the current discounts available from a few of the major retailers. Visit…

Panasonic TX-32LZD81 32in LCD Price Comparison

Panasonic TX-37LZD81 37in LCD Price Comparison

Panasonic expected to launch Freesat PVR

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.

Panasonic to launch LCD Freesat TV’s

Following the success so far of the three Panasonic plasmas with Freesat built-in (sizes 42in, 46in and 50in), Panasonic have announced the launch of two LCD televisions with Freesat built-in, available from October.

The LZD81 series will be available in two sizes, 32in and 37in and is great news in the increasing number of Freesat products coming onto the market, especially for so many of you whom have been waiting for news on slightly smaller televisions with Freesat capabilities.

All Panasonic Freesat televisions are supplied with high-definition and standard-definition digital satellite receiver, as well as a SD digital terrestrial (Freeview) and SD analogue terrestrial tuner with easy user navigation between all three services.

Prices will be £900 for the 32in (TX-32LZD81) and £1050 for the 37in (TX-37LZD81).