Goodbye Sky, Hello Freeview
After happily receiving Sky digital for the last five years my digibox packed in. Not a bad innings considering most electrical appliances are designed to last for a very small time these days. Helps the economy apparently. Anyway, rather than paying Sky £69 to send out an engineer to replace some burnt out resistors, I decided to have a look at the competion. NTL is out not only due to their legendary appaling track record for customer service (or lack thereof) but also because they never laid any cables in Buckingham. Of the two remaining options for digital TV, Freeview seemed the logical choice. Well, my satellite dish has never been the best perfomer under rainy conditions.
I did a little research on the web, as you do, and found generally positive reviews for the Humax F2-Fox. Never heard of Humax before? Me neither. However, John Lewis stock them and they’re never knowingly undersold, you know. So, how did I arrive at this particular decision? Well, being a geek, I made a list of requirements and tested different Freeview box spec sheets against them.
My requirements were
- Good reviews (What Hi-Fi and the like)
- At least one RGB Scart
- A second scart for video
- L/R audio phono style audio outs
- 7 day electronic programme guide (EPG)
- RF modulator (to send the signal up to the bedroom)
- RF loop (to send the analogue terrestrial signals through to the video)
- Usable navigation for on-screen menus
- Upgradable software
The only device to tick all these boxes was the Humax F2-Fox. So off I went, paid my £70 to John Lewis Milton Keynes, went home, plugged it in and bonza! Worked a treat. I didn’t even know if the roof-top aerial was of digital quality but it is. I get a 60% strength signal delivering a 100% quality picture. So now I’m saving about £300 a year in Sky Subscription (plus all the £69 callouts to fix bits falling off my ancient box).
So, what are the negatives? Well you could say less channels ss a negative but I only really miss Sky One and even then only for The Simpsons which I can find on Channel Four daily so it’s hardly a massive sacrifice. In fact less choice is actually a good thing as it means I’ve got to find more interesting things to do in my spare time. Yes it’s quite liberating actually.
Oh yes, negatives.. Erm. Well the EPG is a little crappy on the Humax as it forgets the long programme descriptions due to a lack of memory. Apparently there will be a software update which wipes off the useless games to free up memory some time soon. Freeview could do with a better music channel than The Hits which is bubblegum pap. There’s apparently another music channel on there but it never actually shows any music – just reality celeb tat. Apparently E4+1 might become E4Music, that’d be cool. Cooler still is that from July, More4 +1 is going to be Film4. Film4 with adverts. Yes please. Anything other negatives? Aside from that..hmm. I’ll let you know.
Almost forgot – the radio offering is tonnes better than Sky. Much more easy to find the Radio channels and they all have their own branding graphics which is much better than the Sky Digital uniform blue screen.