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Free Time from Freesat: Video walkthrough and hands-on pictures

Freesat went head-to-head with YouView as it unveiled Free Time from Freesat today, a next-generation TV platform combining HD satellite TV with on-demand broadband catch-up.

The first Free Time from Freesat receivers will be Humax personal video recorder with a choice of 500GB and 1TB, priced from £279, ahead of products from Sagemcom and Manhattan by Christmas.

Free Time is the latest service to add a ‘backwards’ programme guide which lets you skip backwards to access catch-up TV from the past seven days.

We’ve seen the programme guide in action and it’s very smooth indeed and super-easy to find your way around. There’s even built in set-up guides on the box itself to help you get started.

You’ll need connect your Free Time box to the Freesat satellite dish and to your home broadband via Ethernet. This gives you the regular Freesat channels as normal and pulls in on-demand content from the web when you want it. The BBC iPlayer and ITV Player are already on board, with 4oD and Demand Five expected to arrive by the end of 2012.

Unlike YouView and Virgin Media TiVo, Free Time presents a list-style view of catch-up highlights across the basic channels, leaving users to plunge deeper into the broadcasters’ catalogues via their individual players.

There’s also a content showcase promoting the most popular shows on TV now and during evening prime time, and a programme search to explore the full seven-day guide.

Android and iPad Free Time remote control apps are promised in 2013, along with cheaper non-recording ‘zapper’ boxes, Free Time TVs and broadband-only second room boxes which will be able to access live TV and recordings via PVR like the Humax.

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