Whether you’re looking for a high definition package, sports, movies or just the basics – we review the best deals from Sky, Virgin Media and the rest and check out whether you are likely to get it installed in time for Christmas.
Indeed, there are some cracking digital TV deals on offer this Christmas, but time is running out if you want to be installed in time for the big day. Here is our guide to the top digital TV deals this Christmas…
Top-of-the-range digital TV packages – Sports, Movies and high definition TV (HDTV)
High definition TV (HDTV) is the big seller this Christmas. It provides stunning pictures in 4 times the detail of a standard TV programme. HDTV is particularly impressive for sporting events, documentaries, movies and dramas.
In a nutshell, to enjoy HDTV you will need to make sure you have an HD Ready TV; a receiver that can decode the high definition signal, (such as a Sky+HD box, HD Freesat box, or Virgin's V+ box); and a TV package that includes high definition programming.
Virgin Media’s top of the range digital TV package costs £38.50 per month for the first two months and £60 per month thereafter (a total of £677 per year including line rental). For this you get their XL TV package with over 160 channels (including 7 high definition TV channels), Sky Sports, Sky Movies and their V+ box. There is a £75 upfront cost. Virgin Media quote a two week lead time for installation, so you are very unlikely to get installed in time for Christmas.
Sky’s equivalent package costs £69.50 per month (£834 per year including line rental), but you get a much broader TV channel selection and 37 high definition TV channels, including Sky Sports and Sky Movies in HD. Sky comes with the award winning Sky+ HD box, if you are serious about watching in HD, Sky is the best choice available on the market.
Sky is still taking bookings for Christmas, but only just, so you will have to hurry to ensure that you get set up in time for the big day.
Middle-of-the-range digital TV packages with premium movies
If you are not interested in paying for premium sports and high definition TV (HDTV), then you will pay significantly less.
We do however strongly recommend including a PVR (personal video recorder) in your package. It is no exaggeration to say that PVRs absolutely revolutionize how you watch TV. You can record whole series of TV programmes at the touch of a button and you can pause live TV (to answer the phone for example) and then resume your viewing where you left off. Sky+ is perhaps the best know PVR, but all the major providers offer similar devices.
Again, in this price bracket the two key choices are Sky and Virgin Media. Tiscali and BT also offer mid-priced digital TV packages, but you would need to subscribe to their broadband services too, in order to buy the package.
Of the two, Sky comes out a little cheaper, offering their Sky 6 Mix with Sky Movies and a Sky+ box for £50 per month (including line rental), with a £30 set up cost. Virgin Media’s equivalent package is £41.50 per month for 2 months and £51.50 per month thereafter, working out a shade more expensive. The Virgin Media set up cost is £75. And remember you are very unlikely to get the Virgin Media package installed in time for Christmas.
Budget digital TV packages
For households on a budget, there is the option of going with a subscription free service, like Freeview or Freesat – or choosing a budget pay TV service. The pay TV providers offer excellent value for money, particularly if you bundle in your broadband and home phone calls.
Freeview boxes start at about £20 and gives you access to over 70 digital TV and radio channels, though many are of questionable interest.
Freesat on the other hand offers over 140 channels with no monthly subscription, including ITV and BBC in high definition. The Freesat boxes start at £68 with a further £80 install charge.
Whatever your needs this Christmas, an impartial digital TV comparison service can help you find the best deal.
MSN Money’s digital TV and broadband comparison service is available online and has friendly UK based experts on hand to talk for free from 8am until 8pm Monday to Friday; 9am until 5pm on Saturday and 10am until 4 pm on Sundays.
Simplifydigital.co.uk offers a unique service in the UK, providing a free and impartial consultation for anyone looking to save money and compare broadband, compare digital TV, or compare home phone services.
Simplifydigital cuts through the confusion; offers the widest range of digital service providers available (including Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, AOL, Orange, 02, Top UpTV etc); and manages the customer through the install of the services.
It is the only retailer of digital TV, broadband and home phone services in the UK to have been accredited by Ofcom as impartial and transparent. Customers call free on 0800 1 388 388 or use their online service at www.simplifydigital.co.uk