Blu-ray Guide
HDTV Guide
Providers

Also in this section: Introduction | Getting started | Providers | Buying your HDTV | Jargon buster | Optimize

Am I HDTV ready?

Having bought a shiny new HD Ready TV, all of the old programmes I’ve been watching will now be High Definition, right? Well, unfortunately not. HDTV providers have dedicated HD channels which provide a growing choice of programmes in the new format.

To watch programmes in High Definition you will need to take out a HD subscription with a satellite (Sky) or cable broadcaster (Virgin Media). Alternately, as of May 6th 2008 a free-to-air satellite service (Freesat) has launched with some HD programming. Currently in progress across the UK, the roll out of Freeview HD is another alternative.

HD TV

TOP TEN HD TV

Freeview is similar to Freesat but is available through your aerial and is built in to the vast majority of HD Ready TV's. HD channels from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have already been rolled out to Granada and London regions with the rest of the UK gaining access by 2012. Although you will need an HD Freeview box or a Freeview HD enabled TV to receive the new HD channels, there is no subscription charge. Check with Freeview to see if their HD services are available in your area.

We cannot stress strongly enough here on HDTV org that taking out a High Definition subscription with Sky or Virgin Media does not make all of your TV programmes available in this format. The number of channels is growing with Sky having the widest choice. See below for more details ...

Sky HD

Sky currently offer over 50 dedicated HD channels. With the addition of ITV HD and Channel 5 HD (along with BBC HD and CH4 HD) Sky have the full set of popular terrestrial channels.

 >> Sky's HD offering

Living HD

 

Premiership football is a big attraction for those thinking of a HD subscription, and at the moment Sky has taken a big lead here broadcasting regular premiership games on its HD sports channels.

Many dramas are already shot in HD such as the Sopranos and Desperate Housewives in the US. The BBC, which already has a large catalogue of HD material is committed to recording everything in HD by 2010.

Note: Sky's High Definition channel, Channel 4 HD, is a 'simulcast' of the Standard Definition channel 4, with HD programmes being shown where possible.

Virgin Media

Virgin Media currently offer around 20 dedicated HD channels along with on demand Films and other programmes in High Definition.

To view High Definition through Virgin Media, subscribers will need to get a V+ box (formerly the TVDrive) or the new V HD box which offers free high definition to Virgin's M+ or greater TV package subscribers. The range of HD programmes is dependent on the package you subscribe to.

You can also take out a separate subscription via Virgin Media for access to Sky Sports 1 HD, Sky Sports 2 HD and Sky Movies HD.

Freesat

Not to be confused with 'Freeview', 'Freesat' is a free (i.e. No subscription required) satellite based service that requires users to install a dish and set-top box. Sky satellite subscribers wishing to use the service may be able to use their existing kit and unlike Freeview, Freesat has the advantage of being free from bandwidth restrictions and can reach more than 98% of the UK population.

Being free from bandwidth restrictions, Freesat will offer HD programming from the outset. Although the BBC's trial channel will be the only HD fare available initially, it will be joined within weeks by ITV's HD service.

* Find out more about Freesat with our Freesat guide

Satellite Providers

 

Sky HD

Unlike cable, satellite is available in most areas of the country, and at the moment Sky has taken a slight lead with its HD offering. View their website to get full details.

http://www.sky.com/hd/

 

Cable Providers

 

Virgin Media

Virgin Media offer a range of cable services which include HD subscription services. These services may not be available in some rural areas. Also, if you are planning to sign-up for broad band check that this is available in your area. View their website to get full details.

http://www.virginmedia.com/

Freesat

 

Freesat

Offers over 80 digital TV and radio channels, with some HD programming. The service is subscription free, but consumers will need to buy a set-top box and satellite dish.

http://www.freesat.co.uk/

 

 

HD TV

TOP TEN HD TV

> Next: See HDTV buyers guide