In a departure from the norm I am going to write today about something not necessarily computer related. Given the “current economic climate” (please remember to adopt serious tone) I would like to tell you how to save a few quid on your monthly TV bill in Ireland with the minimum outlay.
Until the Saorview trial started in October last the only way to receive the Irish channels i.e. RTE1, 2, TV3, TG4 and 3e without a monthly subscription was using a good ole fashioned UHF aerial and analog signal. The quality of this both for picture and sound leaves a lot to be desired. Digital reception is much better, Saorview was officially launched 26/05/11, it is the Irish equivalent of Freeview, and similarly allows digital reception of TV through an aerial. Most people in Ireland are also used to receiving the “British” channels e.g. BBC1, ITV, Channel 4, etc, etc. The best way to receive those without subscription is via a Freesat (or equivalent) box linked up to your old Sky dish, if you have one, or a new dish which comes as part of the kit.
Saorview can be received through a standard wide-band UHF aerial, there will be an accompanying satellite service for people who are unable to receive the terrestrial signal but it hasn’t even launched in trial form yet and will require the purchase of more equipment in the form of a special satellite dish and receiver. The reason for this is that RTE et al can’t afford to purchase enough rights to broadcast across Europe as the BBC can, using the same Astra satellite Sky does. Therefore they have to use a satellite which has a small enough foot print to cover Ireland and only Ireland, hence the need for the equipment. Saorview will not be available through Sky.
You can either spend a little or a lot of money on this. My goal was to get any HD channels available and have PVR functionality into the bargain, whilst spending as little as possible. So I will tell you what I plumped for. For the Saorview I purchased a Fortek kit from tvtrade.ie for €121 including VAT and delivery, which included the aerial and mounting (as I didn’t already have one). On the Freesat front I went for the ROSS kit from B&Q at €70, not a true Freesat receiver, in that it won’t automatically pick up channel frequency changes. Both boxes are HD capable and both have PVR functionality if you plug external USB storage in.