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A Comprehensive Guide to Freeview Set-Top-Box Recorders Features and Functions

Technology is often what we make of it, and we can only fully make the most of our gadgets and gizmos if we cut through the feature jargon and understand what it means for us as users. This article serves as a kind of glossary for terms associated with our Set Top Boxes and also dispels some common misconceptions about Freeview…

In this Article:

  • Can I get Freeview without an Aerial
  • Do I need a Freeview Box to Watch TV?
  • What channels do you get on Freeview?
  • What is Timeshift?
  • How Do I Pause, Rewind and Skip Ads on Live TV?
  • What is an EPG?
  • What is DVB-T and DVB-T2?
  • Can a Set Top Box Recorder get Apple TV / Sky / BT?
  • Can You Get ITVX on Freeview?
  • What is Coaxial and RF Aerial Input

Freeview Set-Top-Box


Can I get Freeview without an Aerial?

No, you will need an Aerial. Freeview is free, it’s true, but to actually pick up those waves in a way we can view (Rather than just sitting surrounded by radio and electromagnetic waves that our brains ignore) you need an aerial! Aerials catch radio and digital TV waves and transfer that data into the house, to a TV Tuner of some description.

Do I need a Freeview Box to Watch TV?

This depends on your TV, as most modern units will come with a Tuner installed. What this means is that plugging your aerial directly into the TV will give you the 100 + Freeview and Freeview HD Channels. However, any features the Set Top Box has like Timeshift, EPG functions, Multimedia Player Menus and more (All defined later) will not be present unless the TV itself has its own proprietary versions.

You also still need a Freeview box even if you have a Satellite box as Satellite and Broadcast TV are entirely different systems. We advise that if a household can have access to Freeview and an Aerial then it should, so that if subscriptions end, prices go up, you want to save money or you lose internet connection for your Smart TV you will still have your Set Top and Aerial fully functional, for free.


Freeview Box

What channels do you get on Freeview?

There are a whole lot of TV channels out there so it makes sense people want their favourites live. The most common asks are for Channel 4 (Yes) and ITV (Also yes!) but for a comprehensive list view the official Channel Listing for Industry Professionals. It’s intended for broadcasters and managers to look over what is currently stationed on which channel, but I’m sure they won’t mind us poking about to see what Channel PBS America or QUEST are…

What is Timeshift?

Time Shifting is a function that has gone through a few different iterations from its inception. Initially, to record any broadcasts, you had to use tape and a timer to set the tape running whilst a broadcast was active. VCRs bought this principle into our homes and made recording and “taping over” a day-to-day reality in video entertainment and personal recording alike.

More recently, recording has become digital. DVRs being made for digital TV signals and recording only needing a place to store it (Such as a USB or Hard Drive) has enabled libraries of recorded content to be stored and rewatched and shared. All without any need for internet or streaming or digital ownership changes. But, I digress.

The premise of Time Shifting is the same as it was back in the day, only now we can simply schedule and record live or through an EPG that automatically shows us channels and programs within the next two weeks!

Freeview boxes

What about Pausing, Rewinding and Skipping Ads on Live TV?

Timeshift functions have expanded since the original definition. To facilitate pausing and rewinding Live TV, as well as catching up after resuming, the Set Top Box or DVR needs to first record the live footage. This is why Timeshift functions need a storage device even if you do not schedule a show to record.

The definition has evolved to mean any function that uses recording to work, which included Live TV interactions like pausing and rewinding in real time.

What is an EPG?

Every TV Tuner supports an EPG to some degree. An EPG is an Electronic Program Guide and shows the next week or two weeks of scheduled programs across all the TV channels available. Every time you press a TV Guide button or look at what’s on Now or Next, you are looking at information from the EPG.

What is DVB-T2 and DVB-T?

DVB-T is the original digital television standard for Freeview. Tuning into DVB-T Signals will set you the full range of Freeview broadcasting. DVB-T2 is, as the name implies, the newer version of broadcasting with full Freeview HD TV. If you want the best-looking HD channels on your Smart TV 4K then you need DVB-T2 tuning.

Top Box Recorder

Can a Set Top Box Recorder have Apple TV / Sky Sports / BT?

Set Top Boxes in their simplest form rely on analogue or digital broadcasts. There’s no inherent internet connection, wi-fi costs or data charges. Apple TV is an online streaming service that integrates with Apple apps and uses internet / Wi-Fi  /data to provide audio-video content. It is not “TV” in the traditional sense and so is not broadcast in a way that a Set Top Box can pick up.

Sky Sports and other Sky channels are all provided either through Sky Q which requires a Satellite Connection from their own Sky Set Top Box, or other Sky services like Glass which require internet Set Top Boxes. These options are again not compatible with a standard, non-proprietary Set-Top-Box. Not having an Aerial connection means you won’t be able to use TV recorders on the service, and will have to rely on the cloud and the company keeping the content online.

Make sure you check your needs and get the appropriate box for you.

Can You Get ITVX On Freeview?

While ITV doesn’t have its own box like Sky, ITVX is still a streaming service. ITV still has all its original channels on Freeview TV running, but for ITVX-exclusives and content you will need the app which can only run on internet / wi-fi devices. You will not record the shows locally like a proper set-top-box and instead will be streaming the show to your device.

So, for everyone frantically googling what channel is ITVX on Freeview I’m afraid the answer is, it’s not!

What is Coaxial and RF Aerial Input?

A Freeview Set Top Box is most likely to come with what is described as a Standard Coaxial Arial Cable and the device will have RF Input slots. This can be confusing as there are sometimes Coaxial slots that aren’t used even when you’re done setting up!

This is because RF stands for Radio Frequency and describes what will be carried in the cable. In this case it will carry the waves of a TV transmission. The “Coaxial” component refers to the make and manufacture of the cable itself. Therefore, you may provide the TV data you need without using a Coaxial cable for some other input. In general, RF cables are always Coaxial but Coaxial cables have many uses outside of TV and Radio.

Got More Questions? Ask Us!

If there’s a room you need audio for, a TV you need tuning or another issue you need solving and the product FAQ on our site hasn’t solved it, please ask our team. By helping you we can pass on that solution to thousands of others and make everyone’s experiences with technology and gadgets as beneficial as possible.

2 comments to

    Alice / Reply

    How long are recordings kept and how to delete once viewed?

    Louise McDonald / Reply

    Can I record all channels with a set top box or only certain ones? (I want to record films on talking pictures)

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