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Cheapest HD Sources In The UK

14 Feb 2007

Does it make sense to buy a Porsche 911 Turbo if all you ever do is negotiate the London traffic? Would you splash out on a pair of B&W Nautilus speakers just to listen to iTunes?

By the same analogy, there's little point buying a HDTV if you're not going to watch HD material to enjoy the set in its full glory. Here we're going to show you the HD materials that are currently available in the UK, broken down by cost.

Pace DS810XE Free-To-Air HD Satellite Receiver

  • Pros: cheapest way of experiencing HD if you have an existing satellite dish or stay in a flat with communal dish pointing at Astra 28.2 E.
  • Cons: only available free HD channel is BBC HD, which screens HD programs only 3 hours in the evening during weekdays, and 8-12 hours during weekends.
  • Output: 1080i via HDMI
  • Cost: £100 off eBay + satellite installation cost (if any)

Xbox 360 HD DVD Add-On Drive

  • Pros: a no-brainer if you already own the Xbox 360 game console
  • Cons: the noisy Xbox 360 can be annoying during quiet movie scenes; no HDMI output.
  • Output: 1080i via component; 1080p via VGA with software update
  • Cost: £130 + Xbox 360 game console (£200)
  • Footnote: HD movies can be rented online through LOVEFiLM or Tesco, both of whom offer free trials for at least 2 weeks.

Toshiba HD-E1 HD DVD Player

  • Pros: best-in-class picture quality for both HD DVD & upscaled SD DVD; can output in multiple resolutions to be used with external scaler.
  • Cons: 1080i output only until further firmware update; problems passing BTB data when DVI connections present in your video chain (e.g. DVI adaptor, switcher).
  • Output: 1080i via HDMI
  • Cost: £249

Sky HD Subscription

  • Pros: offers the most variety of exclusive HD materials (e.g. Premiership football) broadcasted over 8 channels + BBC HD channel; upscaled SD content.
  • Cons: expensive; certain channels/programmes poor by HD standards.
  • Output: 1080i via HDMI
  • Cost: £299 for Sky HD Box + £10 per month Sky HD subscription on top of your normal package + £60 installation fee (free for multiroom subscription).

Final Words

Jumping onto the HD bandwagon ain't cheap: having shelled out a wad for your HDTV, you might have refrained from buying HD materials because of cost concerns. But with the cheapest source of HD coming in at £100 (Pace DS810XE HD satellite receiver if you have a satellite dish installed), you would be doing yourself a great disservice should you wish to remain on the sideline - the difference between HD and SD is like night and day.

And with Virgin Media launching their own HD package and Sony introducing their PS3 console/Bluray player next month, exciting times lie ahead of us...


Andy says: 04/04/2007 - 04:41

Looking for some information regarding the pace box, does this recieve all freeview channels (i.e BBC three, ABC 1, E4 etc), just freesat channels or just HD channels.

I emailed pace but their response was poor.

Thanks again, Andy
hurworld says: 04/10/2007 - 13:03

Don't forget to update this section when the new Xbox 360 comes out. Not sure if it will be quieter, but will definitely have HDMI output. In addtion new firmware update may enable HD media streaming

Also, there's the new Apple TV that can playback or stream 720p media :)