Complete Sky Novice Seeks Adivce!


Established Member
Hi all,

First of all, apologies for my total lack of knowledge on this topic, I have only just started reading up about this... so here goes...

The house I've just started renting doesn't have an aerial, but it does have a satellite dish. Now, I have never had any kind of satellite before - only freeview, so am not sure how to proceed.

I'm not going to go to the trouble of getting an external aerial fitted and am pretty sure our area is bad reception so don't think an internal powered aerial would be any good for us.

I appreciate I could get Sky via a subscription, but I only really want the free to air channels.... don't think I'd watch enough to warrant £30 a month.

So, could I just buy something like a Sky+ box and just plug it in and receive the free channels?! Would I need a viewing card for this?
Are there other boxes you can get that aren't Sky branded and if so, are there any benefits to this?!!

Is there much difference in price if looking to get a HD I believe this opens up some free to air HD content and the HD boxes have more memory.

I did consider the pay-once-watch-forever £75 offer from Sky, but I'd want a decent box so I can record series and do the whole 'pause live TV' thing and that offer only gives you the basic box. Plus, I don't need the installation because there is already a working dish setup.

As for the aerial coming into the front room, there are two very thin (needle like) male connectors; which I assume is the Sky dish.

Sorry if that's a lot of questions, but my girlfriend is threatening to cut my balls off if she doesn't see Hollyoaks soon!! :rotfl:



Distinguished Member
There is no PVR at the moment which will give you subscription free recording from an EPG. The forthcoming freesat due sometime before Xmas will allow that.

You need to check whether your present dish has a single output or quad output lnb (bit on arm in front of dish). With a single output you can only watch one channel, OR record one channel, OR record one channel and watch a previous recording. You CANNOT record one channel and watch a different channel.

The next bit assumes the dish is still correctly aligned, thelnb is still functioning, the cable is undamaged and water has not got into it. All these options are subscription free although a few extra channels (Five US, Fiver, Sky 3 and Setanta Sports News and Five itself although this is soon expected on freesat) can be obtained with a FreesarFromSky card in a Sky digibox - £20 one off purchase
1.You could at present buy a standard Sky box (£5 upwards - absolutely no point in buying a Sky+ without a subscription) from ebay or a car boot sale etc and just plug it in. This will give you more SD channels on the EPG than a freesat box and will also allow connecting a coax cable to another room and watching the same channel from the Sky box in another room (and even controlling it from there with a "magic eye".
2. You could buy an SD freesat box (£50 approx) and plug that straight in this will give less channels on the EPG but all the same channels as Sky box will be viewable in non freesat mode
3. You could buy a freesat HD box (£120 upwards) this will give the same as the freesat SD box plus BBC HD and the occasional programme from ITV HD BUT NOT channel 4 HD.
4. You could buy a Sky HD box form ebay for approx £150 this will give you the same channels and functions as the standard Sky box plus BBC HD and channel 4 HD (not yet available on a freesat box)BUT not ITV HD

The choice is yours and the differences between the boxes are those at the present time and these may well disappear over the next year or so.


Established Member
Thanks for that awesome response... loads to consider!

I had no idea that I'd not be able to use the PVR functions on freesat, so that's really good to know!

At the moment it sounds like I'd be far better spending a couple of quid and just getting hold of an basic sky box... no point spending hundreds just to get the HD channels at the moment... I'll stick to Blu-Rays!

Just one question - just confirming that I'm reading this right really.

All I need is the Sky box... no viewing card or anything and then I can get the free to air channels? I just plus it in, turn it on and it should work?

Sounds a bit too easy! :cool:


Established Member
One of my colleagues has a Sky+ box they have very generously said I can have.

I assume this will still work fine, but what features of the Sky+ box will I be able to use?

Will I still be able to pause live TV etc?!



Distinguished Member
Without a Sky TV subscription, no Sky+ functionality is available. No recording, no pausing, no rewinding, no series link, no Anytime. You can pay £10 per month for the ability to use Sky+ features with the FTA/FTV channels.
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Distinguished Member
Yes, but you'd be better with a standard Sky box than a Sky+ box.

A Sky+ box has a hard dive (that you won't be able to make use of) and a fan, which make can make a background noise that a standard Sky box doesn't make.

Also, a standard Sky box can be programmed to switch channels automatically without you being present (i.e. you could set the Sky box up to select ITV3 at 6pm, ITV4 at 8pm, BBC3 at 9pm) to allow you to record all three of these on DVDR/VCR without you needing to be there to switch channels manually.

A Sky+ box won't do that, as it would expect you to record these three seperate programmes to its own hard drive. But you can't do that if you don't have a subscription.


Established Member
I'll have to see if the box materialises... thinking about it, I don't think my colleague is back in the office for weeks, so might just get buy a cheap SD box off eBay... will any do, or do the different makes I've seen make a difference?

Sorry, I know I might sound dense for asking again... but do I need a viewing card to get the FTA channels on a standard box?

Thanks again!! :thumbsup:


Distinguished Member
Don't need a card for the FTA channels.

But you do need a card if you want the FTV channels. And, a card tells the box your postcode, so it will allow you to receive local ITV and BBC channels, rather than the defaults of ITV Midlands and BBC London. Either an expired subscriptions card, or a Freesatfromsky card (one-off £20 fee) will do.


Established Member
Just another thanks for all the advice in this thread! :clap:

Got my skybox off ebay and it works a treat... even though the previous tenants have done very odd things with the wiring, I managed to get everything working. :thumbsup:

Now all I have to use the settings I just found for the TV Link thingy and everything should be cool.

Thanks all!

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