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More info on DishPointer

**UPDATE**

Offer has changed to £25 Tesco gift card – ends 25 June 2009. There is also a better deal on the Sky+ now, with free installation and half-price box. If you follow the analogy below, it would cost you £222 for the first year.

You can also add free broadband and SkyTalk to the package.

**END**

Sky offers a £50 Tesco gift card when you join online by the end of this month (offer extended till 07th May). That’s for any subscription, even the £16.50/mth ones.

That’s actually a pretty good deal as a Tesco gift card is as good as cash. If you’re interested in the cheapest package you would effectively pay £163 for a sky box with standard dish installation and an entertainment pack for the first year. You could then cancel the subscription and continue watching all the free channels except for the entertainment pack. The benefit over Freesat is the entertainment pack, Sky 3 and Five US, Live etc. channels plus the possibility of booking any box office movies.

Here is the breakdown for this:

  • 12 * £16.50 = £198 Sky TV
  • £0 Sky box
  • £15 Standard set up installation
  • -£50 Tesco Voucher
  • ———————–
  • £163 Total cost in first year

If you want HD TV, you could get the Sky+HD box with a subscription of £26.25. The one year cost would then work out at £304 but that includes the HD pack (about 16 HD channels) and the entertainment pack. You could then cancel again and continue watching BBC HD, Channel 4 HD and Luxe HD – but you can’t continue recording unless you pay £9.75/mth the Sky plus fee (which is waived while you have a subscription. The other downside there is no ITV HD which is exclusive to Freesat.

Here is the breakdown for the HD package:

  • 12 * £26.25 = £315 Sky HD TV
  • £49 Sky+ HD box
  • £0 Standard installation
  • -£9.75 Sky+HD Pack 1 Month Free
  • -£50 Tesco Voucher
  • ———————–
  • £304.25 Total cost in first year

Overall, I think these are pretty good deals for getting digital standard or HD TV. Please note the £50 Tesco vouchers are for new subscribers only who join online and not in a retail store, by phone or other means.

Link: Sky TV Subscription with £50 Tesco gift card

The new Freesat Digital TV Recorder (PVR) will be available across UK from 22nd November. The first receiver which allows you to pause, rewind and record HD and SD channels will be the Humax FOXSAT-HDR, retail price £299 but some deals might be cheaper (though not an awful lot at the moment)

Stock will be quite limited and many stores have already taken pre-orders. So your chances of grabbing one on Saturday morning might be slim. So, check these online-retailers and try to get your order through: John Lewis, Comet, Argos, and Dixons.

As of today, Channel Five is available on Freesat. It has taken over 6 months, since the initial launch of Freesat, for Five to be ported over – but they’ve been true to their word and went live with the program today.

That’s great news for all of us, making Freesat a true alternative to Sky and Freeview.

Channel Five should automatically appear on your Freesat satellite receiver or intergrated TV.

If you have already a Sky mini-dish attached to your house and pointed at the Sky satellite, you can use the same dish for receiving Freesat.

Just plug the cable coming from the dish to back of your new receiver. That’s it. No need to get a new dish or upgrade anything.

Freesat and Sky are broadcast from the same satellite. So the same dish size and dish direction can be used.

There is no point in trying to get Freesat on a Sky digibox. All the channels on Freesat (except ITV HD) are on Sky anyway, so you wouldn’t notice a difference.

The Sky receivers have their own EPG (Electronic Programming Guide – this is where you select your channels). The channel line ups are fixed, you can’t move or delete channels. The free channels are somewhere in between all the subscription channels which makes using the digibox a pain for free channels only.

And that’s the reason why you would want to get Freesat, so that you can sort the channels the way you want. And of course to get ITV HD and maybe use a PVR receiver to record and pause channels without paying extra fees.

A lot of people are asking which system to get, Freesat, Freesat from Sky (I call it FreeSky to avoid confusion) or Freeview. My answer is if you can get Freesat then get that one.

I’ll tell you why:

Freeview has no HD.

FreeSky is awful to use as the EPG is set in stone, so you can’t delete the channels which need subscription. Zapping is nearly impossible (it’s a bit better if you mark all free channels as your favourites), and you need to remember which channels were free and which not since there is no indication whatsoever on this. The digiboxes are made for Sky subscription. Period. Using them for the free channels is impairing your TV experience.

Freesat has exclusively ITV HD (but no Ch4 HD) plus all the main channels. You can record channels with a PVR receiver. You can use any FTA set top box you want (except for ITV HD which must be a Freesat receiver). You can shuffle things around, add or delete channels, move your dish to another satellite and see what’s on in Europe. You’ve got more freedom and joy with Freesat.

With the launch of Freesat, some people might decide to get a second satellite dish installed (e.g. in order to get the Freesat exclusive ITV HD channel). The problem is that you need to get a planning permission for a second dish if the building you live in is less than 15m in height (this applies probably to most terraced houses) and the smallest dish is larger than 60cm in any direction.

There are also some other requirements for designated areas, listed buildings, dish sizes and dish locations. A handy interactive guide or the full guide can be found on the Planning Portal Site.

With the launch of Freesat, E4 and 4More are now free-to-air, i.e. they can be viewed without any subscribtion and therefore are not part of Sky’s packages anymore.

However, it seems that the two channels are now being broadcast from the Astra 2D satellite which has a much tighter footprint on the UK, making it more difficult for people living on contintental Europe to receive these channels (together with the BBC and ITV channels).

Freesat from BBC and ITV has officially launched today. Similar to Freeview which is available through a terrestrial aerial, Freesat is a free digital service available through satellite.

Initially it will have over 80 radio and TV channels plus BBC HD and ITV HD. The latter will be exclusive to Freesat meaning you won’t be able to receive that channel with FTA receivers other than Freesat receivers. Over the next few years, the number of channels will be likely to increase to over 200.

Freesat covers 98% of the UK but a clear line of sight to the satellite is required in addition to the equipment (receiver, satellite dish and cabling).