Tuesday 23 January 2018

Smart Consumer: Why going digital means big changes in our small screens

Check out at all the options when it comes to watching TV, writes Tina Leonard

Well, did your telly go blank? Or were you prepared with a Saorview box or a monthly subscription last week when the analogue TV signal was switched off?

Going digital isn't the only thing that has changed about TV. There are so many ways of watching TV now, through Saorview, satellite, subscription or online.

All of this increase in choice means that it's time to have a think about how you receive TV and, importantly, what you want to pay for it.


Saorview is the name of the free Irish TV service and now that it's gone digital you can receive more Irish channels and you also get radio channels through your TV set.

The signal still comes through your aerial as before, but because it's a different type of signal you need a Saorview approved set-top box. Otherwise an integrated TV will do you.

Cost: €60 -- €100 for the set-top box. Integrated TVs from €200 upwards. Free to receive the TV channels as before.


Currently the majority of Irish homes pay a monthly fee to get the UK and other channels along with the Irish ones. And there are extra services too; both UPC and Sky have an 'on demand' service where you can watch a programme at a time of your choosing and offer pause, rewind and record functions. And of course if you pay more you can get extra channels.

With the Sky Go App you can watch live or 'on demand' TV from your mobile devices.

Cost: Sky basic €25 per month, UPC basic €26.50 per month.


Getting all the channels doesn't have to mean paying a monthly subscription. If you get a combination or 'combi' set-top box that combines both Saorview and Free-to-Air, this will give you the Irish and UK and European channels. You'll need a satellite dish for the foreign channels and an aerial to go with the Saorview part and that's it. Once you've shelled out, there is no ongoing cost for receiving the channels.

Cost: Combi-box approximately €120. Satellite and aerial, from approx €30 each plus installation cost if required.


If you've missed your favourite RTÉ or TV3 programmes you can watch them later online via the RTÉ and TV3 players.

You can watch Channel 4 programmes back too on their 4OD website but you'll have to pay for BBC content. You can also buy additional TV programmes and films to watch online via Netflix.

Check out the smartphone apps for these services, too.

You can also watch the Irish channels offered by Saorview for free online live.

Aertv.ie is the site and they also provide extra channels showing sports, travel and music. According to Aertv Director Philippe Brodeur, the trend is to watch a programme on your laptop in one part of the house, while someone else watches another programme on the TV in the sitting room; in effect it's a second TV without any additional cost.

But many of us would prefer to watch on a screen bigger than a laptop -- no problem. You can buy 'connected' or 'smart' TVs that hook up to the internet. A basic model is around €600 but you can spend a few thousand euro on a touch-screen set.

Cost: Free for Aertv.ie; €6.99 per month for Netflix. If you want to buy a 'smart' TV set they are priced from approx €600 up into the thousands.

Irish Independent

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