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Moving from Sky to Freesat - My Experience So Far...

Discussion in 'Freesat Forum' started by RobertoP, Aug 8, 2010.

  1. RobertoP

    RobertoP Member

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    So, it's been almost 2 months since ditching Sky for Freesat. I often read many posts and threads here from people debating whether to do the same thing, and whether it's worth doing. I asked myself the same a while back and found myself looking at it like an addict would when deciding whether to kick their chosen habit (and trust me, I've had to kick a few over the years, but that's a whole other story!! LOL)

    Until recently, I had been with Sky since the days of analogue. I think I signed up in the early 90's and was an early adopter of Sky Digital and then Sky+, paying the various premiums before switching to the Sky World package. I even had Sky Talk back in the day when you had to dial a prefix to gain the benefits! I then got multi room to keep a teenage boy happy in his bedroom and paid handsomely every time I moved house.

    And all the time, the subscriptions went up.

    Then HD came into being and Sky wanted yet more money for a bunch of channels whose content was questionable in terms of quality but they had oh so pretty images and sound. Hmmmm. Another £10 on top of my then, £48.50pm. I think not. When Sky+ came out, there was a £10pm charge, which prompted me to get multi room as they then waived the fee. Then Sky+ became de rigeur and the charge vanished completely. When the eldest left home, I cancelled the multi room and was £10pm better off. Something you can't often say about Sky.

    So, what prompted the change for me? Well, times are tight, as we all well know, particularly for those of us with debt hanging around our necks. I needed (and still need) to trim my outgoings wherever possible. But given that we rarely go out much, TV is our main source of entertainment, so getting shot of Sky was never really considered. But the more I looked at my outgoings, the more that £48.50pm seemed ridiculous, especially as our viewing habits tended to favour the FTA stuff. Sure, I love my football and movies, but to pay that much money for the frequency that I watched that stuff seemed ludicrous.

    The straw that broke the proverbial camel's back was HD. I called Sky and enquired about the package. After a while, it came down to cost and Sky were in no position to offer a long term customer, who pays through the nose for the maximum channel package, the HD pack for free. Back then, they even wanted to charge me £60 for a man to come around and swap the boxes over.

    Then, after a few months had passed, I tried again. Same thing, except they now had the "self install" option, negating the £60 charge. But still no sway on the £10pm. Finally, Sky contacted me direct (along with several thousand others, no doubt) and offered me HD with free box, free install and 6 months HD free (the further 6 months being normal price). It was at this point that I sat down and really looked at my TV usage and when and what I watched. My Sky+ box was an older model, so I wasn't even getting the Anytime features that other users were getting for free. Sky told me I'd have to buy a new box for this. When it came down to it, the stuff me and my family watched was almost all FTA. There really was very little reason for me to keep paying Murdoch and his family £48.50pm.

    So I looked at the options and Freesat seemed the best. Freeview HD is not switched on here yet and I have my reservations, rightly or wrongly, about future bandwidth for additional HD channels. I already had Freeview built in to my TV, so adding Freesat seemed like the most sensible option. Sky's free service is OK, but I'd lose the PVR functionality and it wouldn't be HD without paying extra. I looked at this forum and others and saw that the Humax Foxsat HDR box seemed to tick all my boxes and so, I went and bought one. I cancelled Sky, who did the usual haggling to get me to stay, but the cheapest they went down to was about £28pm. No dice, I'm afraid.

    Even though I had one month left on Sky, I unplugged it straight away and fired up Freesat. After an initial period of familiarisation, it all began to make sense. You have to hand it to Sky though. They make their EPG and navigation around the functions very simple, although having since seen the latest Sky EPG, it's not that much more simple than Freesat or Freeview.

    The first thing I noticed was HD. Nadal was playing at Wimbledon that day and I eagerly switched over to BBC HD. To say I was impressed is an understatement. I've read much about the BBC reducing quality on their HD output, but nevertheless, I was pretty much bowled over. And yes, I know, I'd gone from SD via SCART to HD via HDMI, so it wouldn't take much ;)

    Anyway, after 6-8 weeks of Freesat, I haven't missed Sky one bit. There has been no occasion where I have found myself saying, "Doh! I wish I still had Sky". Channel content aside, I really do think that Freesat, and particularly the Humax box, out do Sky in terms of features and functionality. For example, the other night on BBC Four, there were three programmes about music in New York in the 70's. Now, if I had Sky, I'd have to set each programme to record individually. But Freesat saw the three programmes as part of a series and prompted me to do a series record. One click, done!

    The PVR functionality is far better, with programme recording starting and stopping right before the programme starts and as soon as it has finished. No wasted time at the beginning or end, as on Sky. The ability to store recordings in folders is great. The thumbnails are very handy. The external USB connectivity is a real boon. The ability to store and playback MP3's and photos is great too. And yesterday, I hooked up the box to my broadband and got to experience iPlayer on my TV for the first time, and again, I was extremely impressed.

    There's plenty more about the functions of Freesat and the Humax box that impress me. Sure, the remote and navigation takes some getting used to after years using the idiot proof sky system, but once you have the hang of it, it's far better. There's so much more detail about programmes and other stuff. One thing that always rankled me about Sky was the inability to look at detailed advance programme info direct from the banner. Freesat handles that with ease.

    So now my old Sky+ box resides in my bedroom, feeding FTA channels for the missus in bed (although Sky still haven't sent the kill signal to my card so I'm still getting my Sky World package!), and the kids have their old Sky SD box in their room, also on FTA. But the Foxsat now rules the roost downstairs and with the added bonus of the non Freesat mode giving me more channels (admittedly not all great, but hey, it's free) I can proudly say I'm a convert.

    And interestingly, everyone that has come over and seen the Freesat offering for themselves has gone away thinking about converting themselves.

    Ultimately, and for the foreseeable future, Sky dominate the market in terms of channel offering. ITV's recent actions regarding their extended HD offering being Sky only calls into question their involvement with Freesat. But they are a struggling channel who need to boost ratings and save money. The only HD channel I wish was on Freesat is Channel 4. Hopefully we won't be waiting too long for that. Sky have the financial clout as well as the biggest installed user base so they are naturally the first stop for all channels when it comes to delivery and inclusion on the EPG. But by all accounts, Freesat numbers are climbing and advertisers will see that and hope to take advantage. In this so called "age of austerity", people are naturally going to be looking at cutting back and if there is a viable option, and with Freesat, I believe there is, they will migrate, if only to keep their money in their pockets and not those of the Murdoch family.

    And last week, I got what I suspect will be my last Sky Magazine (which usually gets tossed straight into the recycling) and saw that from September, subscription is going up by £2.50pm. This would've meant me paying £51pm and then they wanted £10pm on top for HD??? Here Rupert, pass the KY and go deeper, why don't you??? :rolleyes:

    So, to return to my addiction analogy. I think that long term users of Sky get addicted to it's offerings. We see that it's the only place to watch so many things. Yet, when we closely look at our viewing habits, we see that we simply can't/don't watch all that is on offer. And it simply isn't worth up to £612 per year on top of the regular licence fee (or up to £732 if you go HD). But we are constantly bombarded with suggestions and implications that we would lose so much if we didn't have Sky.

    Well, you don't. You really don't. A combination of Freesat and/or Freeview will give you much of what you already watch. Sure, that's a very subjective view because we all have different tastes and if you watch Sky Sports every minute of the day, or you cannot bear to not be one of the first people to see Lost or 24 or whatever, then, if you can afford it, Sky is for you. But there is no doubt that the best quality programming comes from the likes of the BBC and Channel 4. Everything else is filler.

    I'm a happy convert and I'm £50 a month better off for it ;)
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    Last edited: Aug 8, 2010
  2. derek500

    derek500 Active Member

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    Just a few of points.

    1. If you were watching mainly FTA channels, then Sky wasn't really for you (unless you like HD and get ALL the main channels' HD versions subscription free).

    2. Murdoch and his family only own about 11% of BSkyB.

    3. Most of your subscription money is used to buy content and run the company. Murdoch and his family only receive a share of the profits, via their minority holding of News Corp, which itself has a minority holding of BSkyB.

    The profits are in line with any other FTSE100 PLC.
  3. vader100

    vader100 Active Member

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    I'm moving to Freesat on the 23rd. Got my box ready but the wife is getting the last blood out of the Sky lifestyle package so I will have to wait until it is switched off before I can play.
  4. RobertoP

    RobertoP Member

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    Just to respond...

    1. I watched other channels but far less than the FTA stuff. I used to watch a lot of sport and found a few interesting things here and there, but in the main, the quality programming is FTA.

    2. The Murdoch family "cartel" aka News International (part of News Corp.) currently own 38% of BSkyB. In June, they tabled a bid for the remaining 62% of the shares. This was rejected and negotiations continue.

    3. Quite how you know how much of the money gets syphoned into the Murdoch coffers is anyone's guess, but judging by the figures you present here, and elsewhere, statistical accuracy is not your strong point :rolleyes:

    I'd love to know why you feel the need to be a Sky evangelist and crusader. Such brand loyalty is a bit scary.
  5. logiciel

    logiciel Moderator

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    That last senetnce was unjustified and unwanted, as was the earlier one about KY, but they can stay. :D
  6. derek500

    derek500 Active Member

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    Sorry, I can think of many valid reasons why people may not, or should not want to subscribe to Sky, but once the 'Murdoch Factor' is mentioned, I can't take them seriously.

    Did you know that the independent company that the BBC buys more programmes from than any other, is owned by the Murdoch family?

    Do you purposely not watch those programmes, in fear of filling their coffers even more?
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  7. pdoherty76

    pdoherty76 Member

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    1) I think most people will find they still watch a majority of FTA channels, no matter what packages they have.

    2) & 3) News Corp are poised to buy the whole of BskyB aren't they?
  8. pdoherty76

    pdoherty76 Member

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    Send the box and the wife upstairs and get playing!:D
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  9. -=Rob=-

    -=Rob=- Member

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    Nice write up, I'm going this route but holding out for the next gen Humax to arrive, otherwise I know I'll be wanting it when it does!
  10. robbierroy

    robbierroy Member

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    I enjoyed reading your post RobertoP.
    I have been thinking of getting rid of Sky+ for similar reasons to yourself. Would you have time to write a short piece about installing it? Nothing too detailed, but for example did you connect it to your existing Sky dish? DId you require additional equipment etc.
    Thanks in anticipation
    RR
  11. RobertoP

    RobertoP Member

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    Hi Robbie!

    That's what most of my family call me too ;)

    No worries. Installation is a breeze, especially if you already have a dual feed from your existing Sky dish.

    First of all, you need to ensure you have, at the very least, a dual LNB or bigger. If you've had Sky fitted in the last few years, then you should have at least a quad. If you have Sky+ and you are replacing that with a Freesat+ box (Freesat with PVR) it will be pretty much a straight swap. You don't say what set up you currently have so I'll assume you have a regular Sky+ installation.

    First of all, power down your Sky+ box. Then disconnect the two LNB feeds, followed by the SCART, RF, telephone and digital audio cables if you have those fitted. You should then be able to remove the Sky+ box.

    Take the two LNB feeds and connect to the LNB inputs on your Freesat+ box. Depending on the model you buy, there might be a loop through LNB input. You only need to connect this if you only have a single LNB feed from your dish. Assuming you have a regular Sky+ install, you won't need this.

    Now connect your SCART (or HDMI if you've gone the Freesat+ HD route) and digital audio cable if required. If your broadband router is nearby and you have purchased a Freeset box with an ethernet port, you can hook it up to benefit from BBC iPlayer on your TV.

    Once you have all the leads connected, plug the Freesat box in and power it up. Follow the set up instructions as detailed in the manual which will normally involve inputting your postcode (for regional programming), doing a channel scan and a software update scan. On a Humax Foxsat box this takes no more than a couple of minutes.

    And then, you're pretty much good to go!

    Freesat broadcasts it's service from the same constellation of satellites as Sky so there is no need for a new dish or to realign the existing one, unless you have a very out of date dish, and if you have Sky+ you won't have to worry.

    Now it will be time to start learning the Freesat EPG and your chosen STB's system as it will be quite different from Sky. Sky's EPG and navigation has always been very simple to use but some of the more detailed features of Freesat may have you flicking through the manual for the first few days ;) Don't worry though, it's pretty intuitive and you'll have the hang of it very soon.

    The one thing I have found is that Freesat offer more program detail than Sky and in a much more accessible fashion. If you go for Freesat+ you will really appreciate the way boxes like the Foxsat look after this functionality. It's far better than Sky and a lot more clever.

    I can go into more specifics about the Humax Foxsat HDR box as that is the one I have and I, and many others, highly recommend it. It may cost a bit more, but it's a very wise investment. There is talk of a new Foxsat box coming soon but nothing has emerged yet.

    Anyway, I hope that's been of some assistance to you. The bottom line is, if you have a Sky+ installation that was put in in the last 7 or 8 years, you can pretty much swap the boxes straight over and you're away.

    Good luck and feel free to ask for any more help if you need it :)
  12. logiciel

    logiciel Moderator

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    All you do is replace the Sky receiver with the Freesat one, using the same connections to the dish and to the TV.
    All the Freesat receivers do the same thing and all are listed here: Buy digital TV - Buy HD TV - freesat
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  13. robbierroy

    robbierroy Member

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    Thanks RobertoP for your swift response and for taking the time to reply.
    In a nutshell, a very reassuring and useful reply, as I have a standard Sky+ installation.
    You have answered most of the questions I would have asked, so now I need to find a local retailer and let Sky know that I will be stopping my subscription.
    Thanks very much
    RR
    PS any thoughts on using the BBC iPlayer via a wireless router?
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  14. dances

    dances Member

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    Another post in support of RobertoP :thumbsup:
    I ditched sky 2 months ago too, though i had to pay/give them 31 days notice :mad:
    They didnt even try and stop me and my £42 sports package from leaving, and id never before gone cap in hand to them for discounts ever.
    Have found freesat (through my sony tv) to be excellent - the world cup and wimbledon were GGRREEEAATTTT.
    Apart from the odd footy game, im not really missing sky that much, but i am saving a big wedge every month :smashin:
    Funny thing was....i got a letter from sky 2 days ago offering me free sports for a year if i go back to them....can't say im not a little tempted, but you know what, i'm gonna tell them where to stick it.
    Why are they only being nice to me when i've left them ?
    I won't go back to the dark side :eek:
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  15. RobertoP

    RobertoP Member

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    If you are looking at the Foxsat HDR, which I strongly advise you do, try Richer Sounds, if you have a branch near you. I got mine there for £229.99. Argos now sell it for £249.99 but I'm sure if you shop around you can get a good price. It is definitely worth the money. The iPlayer functionality is worth it alone. But for me, the Media management is a killer app. It automatically puts everything into folders, unlike the messy Sky+ Planner. Each programme has individual options to manage, animated thumbnails and you can even create folders for each member of the family to keep things nice and neat.

    The series linking is more intelligent too, as well as having very accurate start and stop times for all recordings. No wasted space here.

    And the fact you can upload, via USB, MP3's and photo's to the hard drive for playback direct from the box is really neat. It makes it a perfect centre piece for your home entertainment system.

    And of course, there's the iPlayer. It is as simple as connecting an ethernet cable from a spare port on your router to the port on the rear of the Foxsat. No further configuration is needed. Go to BBC1, for example, and press the red button. On the right of your screen, you will get the regular BBC text menu and at the bottom of that, you will see the iPlayer option. Select it and allow the service to load. You can then scan through what is on offer and then once you have chosen something, you can select from normal or high quality. Obviously, high quality will use more of your data, which could be an issue if you have low data allowances on your broadband. Even if your broadband provider says "unlimited", it won't be. There will be, at the very least, a fair usage policy that will have limits within it. Breach those and you will get a letter telling you off. Breach them again and you could face either having your broadband being capped or cut off altogether if you are a repeat offender.

    If you envisage being a high user, buy a service with high limits, like Plusnet's Extra service that gives you 60GB per month between 8am and midnight, and completely unlimited between midnight and 8am. You can also monitor your usage live online via their website.

    As for wireless, that was the option I was going to go for as I had a spare wireless gaming adapter for my PS2 but sadly, when I went to try it, the bloomin' thing had broken! So I just connected by ethernet. From what I have read elsewhere, it should work no problem, but Freesat recommend using HomePlug adapters with plug into a mains socket and use your home's electric circuit as an antenna.

    What you need

    Demo Video

    Hope that helps :)
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  16. RobertoP

    RobertoP Member

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    And that's the main thing for me! Having £50 more in my pocket each month is brilliant, especially in this day and age. Doing that has enabled me to improve my broadband and phone facilities and I'm still quids in!

    I'm not tied to the TV as much as some maybe but even the missus hasn't missed Sky one bit. The kids whinged for about a day when they realised there was no more Disney or Nickelodeon but they're prefectly happy with Milkshake on Five, CBBC and Pop :eek:)

    Thank you for your support :)
  17. reevesy

    reevesy Active Member

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    well i've just got a humax recorder box for my middle room whilst keeping sky+ in the other....
    had it a couple of days and still not had time to totally get to grips with it.
    first impressions are....
    plus points:
    picture quality does seem to be better for sd sources via hdmi (to my 720 screen)
    hd channels.....both of them :rolleyes: are great for picture and sound quality.
    more flexibility in arrangement of channels and recordings...especially deleting channels you dont want.
    just added a load of mp3 albums which can easily be arranged into play lists.
    radio recordings are easier to recorded and arrange

    minus points:
    if you are used to sky plus ease of use the humax is a bit of a learning curve.....kids and missus still dont know how to work it yet......my youngest was 6 when she set up and showed my mum how to use her new sky+ box.
    ....think if you are used to freeview you might get on with it better, i'm still not fully up to spec with it yet.
    the epg i think could be better....finding the skipping ahead to see whats on later whilst watching something nowhere as good as skys banner....when you are watching bbc1 for example ...and you skip ahead to see whats on later say 11pm and then skip to bbc 2 to see whats on at 7 pm you have to scroll back to 7 pm from the 11pm listings on bbc 2 if you know what i mean......skys automatically defaults to the present time. finding this quite a slow process and annoying at the moment.

    as i say just a quick first impression and i dear say i'll get used to it.
  18. aVdub

    aVdub Active Member

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    Great write up RobertoP

    Freesat suits both me and her indoors. We dont watch football (And other channels repeat etc etc)

    I installed our system in 2001 (Ex installer/service tech for Sky and used old customers box's) and got the first Freesat box 2/3 years ago and then got it built in with the new TV.
    It gives us everything we want and for no additional cost.

    I thought the price was slightly OTT when I was an installer and think its well OTT now.
  19. logiciel

    logiciel Moderator

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    Given the clever things this model can do with recordings I really don't see the point of having BBC iPlayer as well.
    I have iPlayer direct into my Samsung TV as an application, but with adequate recording facilities on my Sky and other receivers I can't see it ever being needed.
    Is it only the Humax that provides it?
    Or do any of the more sensibly priced makes and models have it as well?
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2010
  20. RobertoP

    RobertoP Member

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    According to Freesat...

    More details here

    As for whether it's a worthwhile add on in a very clever PVR box all depends really on how you use it. There will always be times that you forget to record something, or maybe forgot to select series record. Maybe you didn't know something was on or thought you might not like it and then decide after hearing reviews that you want to watch it after all. Of course, there's always that quandary when you're recording two things at once and a then you realise that there's actually 3 things you want to watch, all on at the same time. Record two and watch the 3rd on iPlayer.

    Not everyone is fortunate enough to have multiple PVR's, or access to a computer, so I'm sure there's a suitable market.

    We were talking about this at work today, as a matter of fact. One guy said he always uses the iPlayer on his Wii, and at least three people said they were intending on watching the fantastic "Sherlock" series on iPlayer after hearing the rave reviews.

    It's all horses for courses, I guess.
  21. pdoherty76

    pdoherty76 Member

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    I find stuff on iplayer that I never knew existed. It is all nicely divided into categories so if you fancy watching a film you just go in and browse the films.

    My Sky planner is always about 98% full with all the HD I record so iplayer is a godsend. It also has a skip function so I can go forward by a minute at a time. Something the sky box is sadly lacking.
  22. logiciel

    logiciel Moderator

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    Thanks for explaining that it's a general Freesat thing, not just Humax.
    I've been known to use iPlayer on the computer for the reasons you've given, and have tried it on the Samsung TV.
    One of the things I used it for recently on the computer was the start of the first Sherlock that I'd missed.
    It's been a good set of three programmes but sometimes it was too clever for its own good. :D
  23. robbierroy

    robbierroy Member

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    Thanks again RobertoP - useful information regarding iPlayer which I sometimes use on my PC. I may have to investigate the possibility of a faster broadband connection (<1Mb at the moment). The thought of saving £50 per month on Sky+ suns together with £9 per month on Sky Protect is appealing, although I will miss the tennis coverage on Sky.
    If I can be patient, I might wait until the US open is finished before moving to Freesat and the Humax box. If I can't be patient then I will pop into my local John Lewis store to see if they have the 500GB version in stock (it may only be available online). I have some JL vouchers to use up so that would help cut the cost of the Humax.
    Am I correct in guessing that both BBC and ITV HD are available on Freesat right now whereas they have only limited availability on Freeview?
    Hmm - I fee my patience running out already!
    RR
  24. dances

    dances Member

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    Yep, BBC HD and ITV HD are both currently available on freesat HD, with BBC1 HD coming later in the year.
    Freeview HD is only available in small parts of the country...for me i would have to wait until Autumn 2011 !!!
  25. derek500

    derek500 Active Member

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    If you're a tennis fan, just get the news/events pack (for Eurosport) and Sky Sports. A lot less than £50. Also, is there a need to pay Sky Protect? I certainly wouldn't!!
  26. robbierroy

    robbierroy Member

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    Well, my patience ran out so I ordered the 500GB one on-line from JL and should have it tomorrow afternoon!
    I will let you know how the installation goes.
    RR
  27. RobertoP

    RobertoP Member

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    Yes, you will need at least a 1Mbit broadband speed for iPlayer to work well.

    There will always be something you miss when moving from one service to another and another option you might consider is that with the ££60pm you will save, you can upgrade your broadband and then take advantage of many of the web based services to watch your sport, if, of course, your chosen sport is shown on-line. Worth considering. I'm a big footie fan, but my team isn't Premier League and the BBC coverage of the Football League is very good now. And of course, at £50pm better off, I can now afford to go to the actual games now instead! :)

    Yes, the John Lewis version of the Humax is tempting with the extra 120GB of hard drive space, although, by all accounts, replacing the drive yourself is a pretty easy job :) But if you have vouchers, it makes sense :)

    As "dances" has confirmed, BBC HD & ITV HD are currently on Freesat, with BBC1 HD due soon (September, last time I heard). Channel 4 and Five have intimated that they will eventually provide HD services on other platforms but there has been no commitment yet.
  28. RobertoP

    RobertoP Member

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    Excellent! Enjoy :)
  29. logiciel

    logiciel Moderator

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    :confused:
  30. pdoherty76

    pdoherty76 Member

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    Being in spain, you couldn't.;)

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