Sunday, May 08, 2011


Freeview is starting a new series of advertisements this week and would like to have you believe the organisation, comprised of all television stations, is an altruistic coalition who's task to educate us about digital tv. It is not quite as altruistic as it may seem.

I feel the need to educate any of you who don't know and about to buy a pvr, or digital tv recorder. Some tv equipment will have a Freeview sticker on it, and some will not. Without knowing exactly what Freeview is, it sounds good and you would be tempted to buy the Freeview labelled product in preference to the non Freeview product, especially as they are sometimes cheaper than the equivalent non branded product. You should straight away smell a rat because of the price difference. I can well imagine salespeople fail to mention any disadvantage with Freeview branded products.

The first issue is of no great concern to me but it may be in the future if I buy and external hard drive and connect it to the recorder. Think of the external hard drive as just adding more storage space or to perhaps transfer a tv show to your computer or to another digital recorder or to just permanently save something. Freeview branded machines do not allow this, although there may be a complicated work around.

The second issue is the fast forward is restricted. I think our machine can ff at 120x. Freeview is restricted to 30x. If you don't think that is a big deal, wait until you get a machine and see how you end up using it.

The third issue is the one that really gets up my goat and that is the ad skip feature. Freeview does not allow the ad skip feature built into many digital recorders. I will only talk about our latest digital recorder, but our first and dodgy one and the smaller bedroom one both have the feature. There is a skip forward button and a skip back button. On our machine the time you can skip forward and the time you can skip back is alterable. I have our skip forward set to 30 second jumps and skip back to 20 second jumps. If we are watching something recorded, press maybe six or seven times and your are through the ad break in about four seconds. How good is that? Sometimes you go too far forward and if you really need to see the very start after the ad break, just skip back the 20 seconds. This feature is disabled in Freeview recorders.

So in summary, all Freeview means if you are buying a digital recorder is that it must comply with certain standards, which I believe they all do anyway, but your machine has been hobbled to ensure you watch the ads, although you can manually fast forward through them still as you would with a vcr.


  1. Thanks for the headsup. I'll avoid anyting labelled freeview.
    I believe there are dvd recorders that are capable of recording without including the ads. I'm not sure which ones they are, but when I'm ready to buy one, that's what I'll be looking for.

  2. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! I'm still a digital TV virgin - and likely to stay that way with all the pitfalls ...

    Happy Mother's Day!!

  3. Very useful advice thanks for that Andrew.

  4. I did hear about them years ago River.

    Hope your Mum's day was good too Red.

    Just something to be aware of BDT.