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Free to air TV - what are my options?

Where I live many years ago all units in the building decided not to repair the old TV antenna and chose instead to subscribe to Foxtel, which piped Free To Air (FTA) TV through its cable. So did I.

All was well until recently when I disconnected from Foxtel, given their high price and gutter service.

As a result, I have no FTA.

I heard of Freeview and understand a set top box is required in order to record, but am not sure if it’s needed to view alone.
And am unsure what is involved. Over a month ago I contacted Freeview inquiring about Freeview+ view their web site. No reply.

I have seen countless TV antennas (for indoor use) for sale at many stores, but have no idea how good a picture they provide.

As my building has no intention of reinstalling an outdoor antenna, what are my options for FTA? How much does each option cost? What is the quality of pictures provided by each option?

All views welcome. Thanks.

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Some of the TV station stream their FTA channels (check apps available to see which ones do and if they suit your viewing habits). Another option is get a box like this one Choice has reviewed…

or other quality ones.

One needs a Internet connection.

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There are some Freeview+(FreeviewPlus) STBs available such as this one

https://www.aerialbox.com.au/t2100.html

I don’t know that it will get you a complete Live service. There is also AppleTV+ Such as these offerings

Apple TV - Shop Apple TV 4K Streaming Device - JB Hi-Fi?

In room antennas can be useful but they usually should be used in a strong signal area (I mean that the transmitted signal is strong) as the building is a pretty good dampener of signal. There are lots of brands sold, some decent and some fairly useless. Price is not an indicator of usefulness so ask (get it in writing if at all possible that it will suit your conditions) and make sure a return is possible when it doesn’t live up to the spiel. Brands commonly seen are Antsig, Crest, One For All (Harvey Norman generally retailer of this but not the only one selling them).

Would the BC allow you to install an antenna externally on your wall if you have reasonable line of sight to TV towers? An example would be a high gain phased array with a short mast. As examples

https://www.jaycar.com.au/heavy-duty-uhf-phased-array-tv-antenna/p/LT3154

or

https://www.jaycar.com.au/uhf-phased-array-tv-antenna/p/LT3147

Plus

https://www.jaycar.com.au/antenna-bargeboard-mount/p/LT3200

Plus a short mast to fit between the two.

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Thanks I will check the apps out.
I thought the apps such as ABC’s iView allow to catch up on programs rather than providing real time FTA.

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Thanks, will check those out too.

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The new ABC app allows live streaming of its channels. So does 7 and 10, and understand SBS does as well. I am unsure about 9…but assume it does to.

The Freeview app is also supposed to stream all 19 FTA channels, but haven’t used this one.

A TV box, depending on its capabilities, may also allow access to apps available on smart phones and free/paid streaming services.

Another option…

If you have an existing smart device and a smart TV which can screencast, you can run the apps on the smart device and watch on the TV. Quality might vary depending on capabilities of both devices.This might cost nothing and be a stop gap solution until the TV is ultimately replaced…with one which full apps can be installed rather than dumbed down preinstalled smart TV ones.

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Free to air digital, in all its glory, doesn’t need much to receive. Just an antenna.
Plug it into your TV, or in my case a TV recorder.
No set top boxes, no internet connections.

So, the question is what antenna. They do not have to be big, as the broadcast is UHF so cross arms are only 30cms or less for a Yagi style.
My antenna is in the roof space, so not external. It has an amplifier to boost the signal.
It is just pointed towards the general direction of a transmitter some 40k away and works very well.

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A good suggestion if allowed and there is satisfactory space requirements. Not all roof spaces are unit owner property, some BC control that space as well. Not all units have a space in the ceiling cavity that allows the placing of an antenna. Something for @Jon01 to investigate.

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Depending on the age of the smart TV, brand and installed software, basic access to the free streaming services may be available without an added device. If @Jon01 has a smart TV it may have an ethernet or built in wifi network connection. Older Smart TVs (one we had from 2011) had an ethernet port plus the option of an add on USB Wifi dongle.

The TV may also support using a low cost USB memory stick or external storage drive to record content. The TV menus can be clunky or confusing depending on ones comfort with modern tech. The alternative of using some form of set top box, eg Apple TV, Fetch, etc have already been mentioned.

Our 6yo Sony works fine connected directly to the internet, iView etc. It’s also been able to connect to Netflix and Amazon paid services. Note that some of the free station services require the user to create a user login, typically used only for the first time. We connect through a very average ADSL2 connection. The picture quality compares favourably with everyday broadcast quality from the outdoor antenna.

There are a number of community topics that cover streaming to smart TV’s, set top boxes and PVR’s. Using the search tool from the Community Menu bar near the top of the screen is a useful way to locate related or topics that cover similar content. It’s also possible to search within a topic with many posts.

A sample from the searches.

The best way to assess whether your FTA viewing needs can be met by the free services, EG iView, SBS on Demand etc, is to visit each site online and search the content. This can be done from any connected device through a browser.

P.S.
We’ve used a variety of indoor antennas in big city urban and regional locations. None, absolutely none have been as effective as an outdoor aerial. The optimum position in a room and alignment can vary between channels. The models with a built in amplifier (powered) were more useful.

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This might be a helpful ‘promo-torial’

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Many thanks for all of your tips. I will set aside quite some time to look into them. That said, it’s amazing how much spare time I found with no access to FTA over the last 2 months. Instead I have been tied at the hip to Netflix, arguably the best $11 per month I have spent.

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We dumped Foxtell because the NBN’s copper cable to the house connection is poor and drops out frequently. Also it is difficult to get good reception for the few Free to Air stations which Foxtel does connect to…
By using a Fetch Box (Mighty) and a simple outside TV aerial we now get better Free to Air reception plus the plethora of Free to Air TV stations not on Foxtel.
We connected the Fetch box to the WiFi to get Prime, Netflix, Wild, Nat Geo etc etc for a lower cost than Foxtel.
Telstra, Foxtel and the NBN admit that the older copper cables from the street are a problem for them so they don’t help you.

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Just checked and all 5 channels live FTA can be streamed.

Downloaded the Freeview app. This pushes the live stream back to each individual channels app (ABC, SBS, 9, 7 and 10) which open to watch the live stream. The only advantage of using the Freeview app is one can see what is on each channel. It is a shell app otherwise.

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I swore blind I would never give my dosh to Foxtel, but I caved in recently and subscribed to Binge on the cheapest ($10) plan. Imagine my surprise when I found that many Foxtel channels are also available. I havent been watching those, though, but I thought it was interesting. I’ve been able to catch up on many TV seasons which have been unavailable to me until now. I won’t maintain the subscription forever, just until caught up. There are only a couple of things on Netflix that interest me, currently, but because of Covid. new seasons have not yet become available (eg Star Trek Discovery) so I dropped my sub to that.

I also have FetchTV and find that the IQ seems better thaan that produced natively on my elderly Samsung TV, but I also watch live streams from ABC and SBS via my AppleTV. Yes, I have too much stuff.

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I’m a bit lost with your reply.
You mention the $10/month Binge plan. As far as I know, and about Binge I know little, the content is streamed via the internet and no set top box is used. Correct?

If so, I don’t understand your comment about “IQ” and “many Foxtel channels”.
Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems you have either an iQ3 or iQ4 set top box which indicates a traditional Foxtel subscription which would cost you, excluding Binge, no less than $29/month.

If you have such a set top box then free to air is transmitted through Foxtel’s cable.

Am I missing sommthing?

Thanks for the tip. My 5 year old Hisense TV lists several apps in its menu, but not Freeview. Interestingly it lists the SBS OD app, which works fine.
I will see if I can somehow download the freeview app.

I watch via my AppleTV. I’ve no doubt its available on some smart TVs as well.

When I use the term IQ I’m talking about image quality. “Many Foxtel Channels” is just what it seems. Foxtel channels are streaming via the Binge application, just as FTA channels are streaming via their various apps. I’ll take a photo and add to this post to illustrate my meaning.

Only 4-5 channel icons fit across my 32” FHD screen. But these are live streams. No IQ box required.

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You can move.

Most people would consider it extreme to move house just on account of no FTA TV. However if you were thinking of moving anyway for other reasons then getting FTA TV could be considered a bonus from that process. :slight_smile:

Ok thank you. Your use of “IQ” confused me.

I hear you. I know for a fact that if I pay Foxtel $29/month I can get FTA included in the BASIC package.
One neighbour has an indoor antenna, with a lousy picture quality.

I will look over Freeview and other options suggested.

it seems that my 5 year old smart TV is becoming dated as it offers some apps, it does not autiomatically download new apps eg iView or TenPlay. It did come with SBS OD which works a treat.