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Well having plenty of time on my hands I have been watching a lot of tv mostly on my freeview in my room as for some reaon I am uncomfortable sitting in the house main lounge watching the Virign media package my Dad shells out for monthly. So I sit in my room watching the freeview or my fish tank but the fish are not the topic of this review so back to the tv. Most areas of the UK can still recieve a terrestrial signal giving you the standard 5 channels (though over ten years after its launch some areas still cannot recieve Channel 5 by this method). So other than shelling out for a monthly subscription to something like Sky, or pay a one off price to buy a Freeview box on which depending on the box you can view around 100 channels, though often you will also get several digital radio stations as well.
The box I bought around 12 months ago cost me slightly under £20 and works simply by plugging in to the aerial socket at home, if you dont have a 'plumbed in' aerial if the signal is good enough they will work through a stand alone aerial but this does need a strong signal or in areas like where I live you reception is patchy and not really worth while. Once you attatch the box to the tv your set to go.
At the moment my box has the standard 5 channels, the usual range of the BBC's other channels, ITV, and 4's 'plus' channels, as well as these there are 6 or 7 music channels, various auction/telesales channels, Sky news and Sky Sports news (presuambly free to try to encourage you to buy at subscription to their services), a remarkably long list of teletext channels and the radio stations.
Other channels which appear on my list include pay to view ones like Television X (does anyone actually watch this?) and Setanta Sports which if I wanted to watch anything on it is paid for by my Dad downstairs.
The range of channels you can recieve should be enough to keep most people occupied, but despite this I do tend to only watch the main five channels.
Reception quality does vary depending on the strength of the signal, when I use the aerial socket in the wall the signal is good, obviously being digital the picture is as clear as the TV allows it to be, on my newer TV downstairs the pictures are much clearer and sharper, so it is worth noting that it is going to be affected by factors other than the box itself!
My box does an automatic search once every 24 hours for updates to the software or new channels as not all the 100 channel options are being used at the moment.
For someone who is on a budget and cant afford to be subscribing to potentially expensive TV packages Freeview is a good option, but it is worth remembering that its not going to be long until the whole country starts to have its analogue signals switched off so if you have more than one TV it might be worth starting to buy boxes for each TV now. Boxes can vary in price and its worth checking if you plan to buy a new TV if it has freeview built in as many these days do so will save you the extra cost of a box on top.