Londoners to get Freeview HD by end of yearFreeview HD launch brought forward for key cities

19 October 2009

Freeview digital TV

A Freeview box is a cheap way to convert to digital TV

Londoners will start to receive Freeview TV transmissions in high definition (HD) from the end of 2009 following an agreement between the BBC and broadcast infrastructure company Arqiva.

London is one of five key metropolitan areas that have been chosen for an early upgrade to HDTV via Freeview, with transmitters for Glasgow, Newcastle, Birmingham, and Leeds/Bradford due for an upgrade in Spring 2010.

The rest of the country will start to receive Freeview HD in line with their digital switchover dates, starting with the Granada TV region in late 2009. 

To watch Freeview HD you'll need the right equipment, including an HD-ready TV (see the Which? review of LCD and plasma TV).

What is HDTV?

You can read all about the viewing superiority of HDTV in the Which? guide to HDTV explained, but in a nutshell HDTV is a new standard of TV with better-quality picture and sound than normal TV - more the sort of standard you would see at a cinema.

HD offers more colours and a higher picture resolution. This can make HDTV images clearer, sharper, more detailed and very lifelike.

How can I get Freeview HD?

To watch HDTV you need two things - an HD-ready TV (such as those featured in the Which? LCD and plasma TV reviews) and a Freeview HD set top box - your existing Freeview box won't be able to receive HD broadcasts. 

But although HD broadcasts are due to start at the end of 2009, according to the Freeview website the first Freeview HD digital boxes won't hit the shops till early 2010, so Freeview HD viewers in upgraded broadcast regions will have to wait.

Alternatively, if you're in the market for a new HD television and want to roll your HD set-top box and HD-ready TV into one, Freeview HDTVs are expected to be available in Spring 2010, just in time for the World Cup.

When will I get Freeview HD?

If you want to check when you'll be able to watch Freeview in HD, including if you're in a region that's already completed digital switchover, Freeview plans to launch a Freeview HD checker on its website this Autumn - however it doesn't seem to be up and running yet.

Can't wait till Freeview HD comes to your region to experience the crystal clarity of HDTV? Take a look at the Which? guide to HDTV explained to check out the range of HD alternatives offered by Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media.

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