Digital television – what are my options?

Digital television, recorder or set-top box – which is right for you and your budget?

When going digital, you can purchase a digital television, recorder or set-top box. Each has pros and cons. Which is right for you and your budget? And when will the switchover happen in your area?

Before you rush out and buy a new television, you should find out when the switchover to digital television is happening in  your area. Take a look at this rollout map and click on your area to find out how soon the analogue signal will be turned off where you live.

Ditigal television

It’s pretty clear what the first option is, and it is most definitely the best. That is, purchasing the big kahuna, the ‘white whale’, Moby Dick. A big flat-screen television. The other options are to purchase a set-top box or a digital recorder, as listed below.

There are some glaringly obvious ‘cons’ when it comes to purchasing a flat screen television, but there are some telling ‘pros’ which may influence your decision.


  • There has never been a better time to by a plasma orLCD digital television, as with the advent of 3D televisions prices are way down on what they were 10 years ago
  • The picture is spectacular, and would do the digital shows justice
  • All recent flat screen televisions have a built-in digital tuners, which saves you the money of buying a set top box
  • Most flat screen televisions can be wall-mounted, creating more space in your home.


  • They are a long term commitment and can be costly
  • They often require additional payments for set up, especially if you are not a DIY person or have no experience in the audio visual field
  • They do not have as long a shelf life as yesteryear’s analogue televisions.

Digital set-top box


  • Very much the cheaper alternative. The cheapest set top boxes can be picked up for around $30. it will give you all the new free digital channels, plus all the free to air channels such as 9, 10 and 7, even after the analogue signal is switched off
  • You can keep your old family television and not have to worry about moving/ tipping etc, which can be costly.


  • A basic set-top box may not give you some of the fantastic digital features such as widescreen viewing
  • The major TV manufacturers are phasing out set top boxes as in-built digital tuner products are becoming more and more popular
  • Some older TVs may not have multiple input sockets so you may need to unplug the set top box and plug in your DVD every time you want to watch something on your DVD player.

Digital Recorder


  • DVD recorders/Hard Drive recorders (HDD) with built-in digital tuners are a popular alternative to set top boxes. If the old VHS is due for replacement, customers can upgrade to a digital video recorder with in-built tuner and not even have to worry about buying a separate set-top box
  • Digital TV recorders with two tuners (also called twin tuners) allow you to watch one digital program while recording another
  • Record programs by selecting them directly from the TV guide
  • If you’re called away from a TV program press pause and the recorder starts recording it. When you return simply resume watching where you left off
  • Full seven-day on-screen TV guide
  • You don’t have to buy a new TV
  • Extra ‘freeview’ channels without subscription


  • Can be quite difficult to use
  • Limited storage space for recorded programs, meaning you have to spend money on blank DVDs to tape things on eventually
  • With ‘freeview’ you may need to purchase a new television aerial

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