For most of us, live TV broadcasts now mean Freeview, with HD signals hitting our TVs or set-top boxes through the good old-fashioned aerial. But what if you live in an area with a weak TV signal, where the full range of channels – including HD channels – is out of reach?
Or what if you have an existing satellite dish, but don’t want the monthly cost of a Sky subscription? Here Freesat is the answer, giving you more than 200 TV channels through a satellite dish, along with a few exciting extras.
Below, we’ve created a succinct buying guide that explains both what Freesat is and how you might go about finding the best Freesat TV box for you. If you already know what’s what, you’ll find our pick of the best Freesat boxes further down the page.
Top 10 Best Freesat TV in the UK for 2021
You can receive many of the UK free-to-air TV channels by installing a small satellite dish and a digital freesat TV. To help you find the best Freesat TV we listed here.
1. Freesat Recordable 4K TV Box 500GB
Up until last year, Humax ruled the Freesat world – but their boxes were becoming slow and obsolete, until they stopped making them.
Then, after months of waiting, Freesat finally launched a new set of boxes from Commscope (formerly Arris) – so we’re finally getting a modern, fast box that also supports 4K.
This recording model can record up to 4 programmes/channels at the same time (but you need a Wideband LNB dish), and has a wide range of smart recording features. You can also use the Freesat mobile app to set recordings from your mobile phone.
2. Manhattan T2-R 500GB Freeview HD Recorder
If the ability to record TV programmes is more of a priority for you than access to online catch-up services (or you already have a streaming device), then this budget Freeview box may be the ideal option. It allows you to record two channels at the same time and it’s simple and straightforward to navigate through the programme guide. With its 500GB hard drive, you can record up to 300 hours of SD shows, and the box will alert you if there’s a high definition version of the programme you’re trying to record.
3. Freesat 4K TV Box (Non Recordable)
Freesat’s new own-brand STB has everything going for it, including a nicely compact design, built-in Wi-Fi and an optical out. It’s also more future-proof than previous Freesat receivers, with 4K output, Dolby Atmos audio and support for 4K Freesat broadcasts should they roll out in the future.
Right now, it’s a great receiver, with excellent picture quality and a snappy, no-nonsense user interface that’s focused on helping you find and watch your favourite programmes. It’s intuitive and easy to use, and even the remote control is up to scratch.
Our one complaint is that, while it has most catch-up TV services covered, with the option to roll back to earlier programmes from the TV guide, the on-demand options don’t include All4 or Now. Still, if you already have a TV or streaming device to cover them, then buy away.
4. The Exceptional Lite V3 Full HD Free To Air Satellite Receiver By TV Tech
The best Freesat box of 2021 is the Lite V3 top quality HD satellite receiver by TV Tech. Ideal to receive the free air channels in both standard and high picture quality, the device is pre-programmed to obtain about 6000 different radio and TV channels to satisfy all the family’s needs. Depending on what you decide to tune the box to, the receiver can pick up signals from the UK, Poland, Germany, Italy or Spain. Moreover, allowing its users to pause and record live TV, as well as use the device as a personal media player for Xvids and Avis; this Freesat HD box emphasises on variability and practicality within each feature it employs. Furthermore, the built-in WI-FI adapter allows you to browse through the internet and search for alternative entertaining methods, so you’ll get the most out of the tiny clever box.
5. Humax HDR-1100S 1TB Freesat with Freetime HD TV Recorder – Black
A lot of users also consider the Humax HDR-1100S ITB as the best freesat box with recorder due to its numerous functions and Freetime features. Although it was outshined by the other Humax model with a higher storage, this one is still a good choice for those looking for a cheaper alternative. It is squeezed with several features such as Free to Air Digital TV channels, 13 HD channels, simultaneous recording, and home- networking functions. Through its large storage capacity, users can catch up on their missed shows and also record over 600 hours of programmes and 250 HD ones.
6. Edison Free TV (Lite v3) Full HD Free To Air Satellite Receiver, PVR Via USB
The Edition Proton Lite V3 Freesat is probably one of the cheapest options here. There are not many features that are present in the system. It is the most basic version of any Freesat version without even internet connectivity available. But if you are looking for a cheap option, then this is the one you go for.
Coupled with HDMI as well as SCART television connection, this is compatible with most TV sets, even old ones. If you wish to record any programme, then you will need a USB. You will be able to see free channels provided by Freesat.
7. Freesat Recordable 4K TV Box 1TB
If you want subscription-free TV through a satellite dish, this is the best set-top box you can buy. On test, we found it was quick to load programme guides, menus and on-demand players. Most of the UK’s major catch-up and streaming services, with the exception of Channel 4, are available through the box too. They’re also integrated into the programme guide, so you can scroll backwards as well as forward and launch previously broadcast shows in just two clicks. Unfortunately, there’s no search function to find live broadcast and on-demand shows, but Freesat says it plans to offer this feature soon through a software update.
8. Manhattan T3-R Freeview Play 4K Smart Recorder 1TB
The versatile T3-R Freeview box by Manhattan is among the best PVR currently on the market, for which the UK Amazon can vouch. Combining over 85 Freeview channels along with on-demand TV from BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, UKTV Play and more, this TV recorder will allow you to pause and rewind live TV, record two programmes at once as well as record entire series with a simple click. Bound with features of the latest technology, the T3-R promotes a built-in Wi-Fi and ethernet port, a quad-core CPU for exceptionally fast performance and additional support for Ultra HD and HDR picture quality. Moreover, the 1TB hard drive allows you to record as much as 600 hours of TV shows, movies or programmes, which are then organized into categories for easier access.
9. Humax HDR-1100S 2TB Freesat
A higher storage capacity of the HDR-1100S series, the 2TB version is best for people with many people in their household. This means that everyone can record their favorite shows without worrying about the space of the device. The Freesat box is equipped with Freetime, features of smart TV and recorder.
The Wi-Fi feature lets you down the additional application as and when needed. Inside the main package, you will also find a TV guide that gives you detailed knowledge which enhances the streaming experience. Along with this, the box is very lightweight and has an amazing design.
10. Humax HDR-1100S 500 GB Freesat with Freetime HD TV Recorder
The HDR-1100S is a Freesat recorder with Freetime, the smart TV service that allows you to watch on-demand content from the past seven days.
With access to more than 200 subscription-free TV and radio channels, and a built-in 500GB hard disk to record them on, it’s the ideal alternative to costly services such as Sky and Virgin. And since it’s beamed to your home via satellite, you‘re not at the mercy of poor digital terrestrial reception.
Even better news is that unlike previous Humax Freetime recorders, the HDR-1100S is equipped with built-in Wi-Fi, making it even easier to access catch-up TV. At a one-off cost of £189, it’s already looking like a good deal.
How To Buy The Best Freesat Box: Things To Consider
While the selection of Freesat boxes out there isn’t very big – there are still distinct differences between the ones that are available – both in features and cost.
Also, keep in mind that Humax no longer manufactures Freesat boxes – you might still find them in some stores, but they won’t get updated with some of Freesat’s new features.
PVR And Recording
Some Freesat boxes come with a built-in hard drive, allowing you to record TV programmes for later viewing (and you can record one programme while watching another one on a different channel). Conveniently, you can also use the EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) to choose future-programmes to record, so you’ll never miss your favourite shows.
If you mostly use the streaming TV apps (such as BBC iPlayer and the ITV Hub), you might not need a recording box – but keep in mind that some of the UK streaming apps are catch-up services, and the programmes expire after a set number of days.
If you are planning to record live TV shows, you also need to choose how much storage space you want your Freesat box to have, as that will determine how many hours of TV you can record.
Freesat Freetime – 7 Day Rollback
Some boxes support Freesat’s “Freetime” catch-up service, which lets you use the EPG to watch programmes that aired during the last 7 days (but only on specific channels).
As mentioned, some Freesat boxes can also be used as internet streamers, in which case you’ll want them to have the relevant apps. The newer boxes also have a Netflix app and an Amazon Prime Video app built-in, which will prevent the need to get another streaming box just for those.
All Freesat boxes come with an HDMI connection, but if you have an older telly, you might need a SCART connection instead – so check if the box you’re looking to buy has one.
Freesat With Broadband Connection
If you want to use the streaming apps, you’ll also need to connect the Freesat box to the internet. Some boxes come with an Ethernet port, which you connect directly to your router, and some also come with a WiFi connection. Connecting via an Ethernet cable is usually more stable and provides better speeds – but if your telly is not next to your router, you might still want to consider WiFi.
So, which is the best Freesat TV box to buy? While there are many great options in the market, the Freesat Recordable 4K TV Box and Humax HDR-1100S 2TB Freesat HD TV Recorder Box tops the list. It gives users the best value for their money and provides essential features.
If you are looking for a box with recorder from Freesat itself, then you should definitely try the Freesat Recordable 4K TV Box.