While there is now more and more choice and more and more ways of watching TV it becomes increasingly difficult to work out which is the best TV service for you and your family.
If you want more choice and flexibility than a standard Freeview service yet don’t want to shell out for a hugely expensive Sky TV or Virgin Media TV subscription then you have a few options, detailed below.
A Freeview+ HD box can be bought from £99 upwards and this plugs into your broadband connection and allows you to connect to some catch up services such as BBC iPlayer through your TV.
Some of the more expensive boxes also have built in recorders (known as Personal Video Recorders or PVRs). You’ll still need to pay for a separate broadband connection to take advantage of most of these extra services.
Freesat+ with Freetime
Freesat works via a satellite dish and set top box which will cost you from £249.95 to install and requires a separate broadband connection to operate.
Unlike Freeview+ it has an Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) that shows content that was broadcast over the last week, but you can only catch up on content from the BBC and ITV (though they claim that 4od and Channel 5 will be available sometime in the future). Some Freesat+ set top boxes come with PVRs, but not all of them.
TalkTalk Plus TV
TalkTalk Plus TV is available to any TalkTalk customer, whether a new customer or an existing customer who takes it as an upgrade for £15.50 per month.
TalkTalk provide a free YouView set top box worth £299. This set top box has a huge range of features not found in other boxes:
- You can pause, record and rewind live TV
- An Electronic Programme Guide that lets you scroll back up to 7 days and watch shows from BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 on demand.
- Personal Video Recorder built in that can record 2 channels simultaneously and you can also watch a recorded show at the same time.
- A huge library of on demand shows, films and box sets free (and ad free too!)
- "TV Boosts" available to add monthly access to additional paid TV channels
- Sky Sports and Sky Movies channels available at extra cost
- Rent movies from LOVEFiLM from just £2.50 on demand
The table below shows the key features of each system:
|Item||Freeview+ HD||Freesat+ & Freetime||TalkTalk TV|
|Free Set Top Box||No||No||Yes|
|BBC iPlayer||Via app||Yes||Yes|
|ITV Player||Via app||Yes||Yes|
|Channel5 On Demand||No||No||Yes|
|Access TV Boosts||No||No||Yes|
|Access Sky Sports||No||No||Yes|
Looking over the options it’s clear that for a no frills option Freeview or Freesat are OK if you are happy to spend up front on the equipment you need, but they are limited on their features and have less content available.
TalkTalk TV on the other hand has no setup costs and although it does have a small monthly cost this is more than compensated for by the huge range of additional content and features just not available with the other options.