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Going HD: your options explained

Want HD TV but don’t know where to start? We’ll give you the full details.
If you’ve got a newer flatscreen TV, chances are it’s perfectly capable of receiving HD pictures.

But you may not know what your options are for going HD. Here we’ll take you through each one and share the benefits and pitfalls of each. It’s worth remembering that even if you have an HD package not all the channels you receive will be in HD – you’ll also get a whole batch of standard definition (SD) channels too.

Freeview HD

The newer sibling of standard Freeview, many of us can now receive HD TV through our standard aerials with Freeview HD, which launched in 2010. If you’ve got Freeview at the moment you won’t be able to use the same box though – you’ll need a special Freeview HD one.

Once you’ve got that though, using Freeview HD is completely free – just as Freeview is. There are plenty of HD channels to choose from including BBC One HD, ITV1 HD and Channel 4 HD.

Sky+ HD

While Freeview HD is a relative newcomer, Sky has been providing HD services since 2006 through its satellite system. You have to have a dish installed to receive the service. Sky HD costs a per-month fee (£10.25 on top of a standard Sky subscription) as well as an installation charge, though there are frequent install deals.

As well as the standard HD channels such as BBC One HD and ITV1 HD, there’s lots of Sky content in HD as well as the optional sports and movie HD channels.

Things can move on another stage too, if you want it – Sky has now launched Sky 3D services across sports, movies and more if you have the Entertainment Extra, Movies, Sports and HD Packs. You can also get Sky Multiroom, for watching different channels in different rooms (£10.25 extra per month), as well as a high-capacity 1TB Sky box for £149.

Freesat HD

If you’ve got an old satellite dish on the side of your house, or you can’t get Freeview but don’t want to pay monthly fees, then Freesat is a great choice for getting HD channels. Like Freeview, you just pay for the box and then everything after is free – but you will need that dish. As well as the full complement of free-to-air HD, you’ll also get bundles of channels in SD – over 150 channels in total.

Virgin Media

If you live in a cabled area, you can get 75 HD and SD channels for £9.50 a month – 115 and 175 channels are available for £15.50 and £27.50 respectively. You get 6 or 23 HD channels depending on the package you choose. You’ll also get a 500GB TiVo box for recording programmes too.

nd you won’t miss out on Sky’s premium content if you’re happy to pay for it – you can also add Sky Sports or Movies channels to your package while you can also get included phone calls via cable – and you can even keep your number.

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