If you're outside a Cable-enabled area and you're looking to get your eyes tuned into some glorious HD broadcasts, your options are generally twofold; Sky+HD or Freesat.
Always hoping to get one up over the other, the two have started the new year with a bang. BSkyB has slashed the start-up cost of its Sky+HD service to as little as £49, a significant fall since its £299 introductory price in mid-2006.
Almost simultaneously, the folks at Freesat have announced that its total sales doubled in the last quarter of 2008, taking its total in excess of 200,000. Having announced 100,000 sales in late September 2008, the rapid rise to 200,000 can largely be credit to the launch of Freesat+, made possible by the HUMAX Foxsat-HDR.
Emma Scott, Freesat managing director, states that the service's key goals in 2009 include "increasing our product range and distribution by the quality and choice of channels and services available, and the anticipated launch of IPTV services, like BBC iPlayer onto Freesat later this year".
Freesat states that its HD boxes are now available below the £99 mark, however, the sole PVR box - HUMAX' Foxsat-HDR - still carries a lofty price-tag of around £299. In comparison, BSkyB's recent price cut allows consumers to subscribe to Sky+HD for an annual cost of around £355 - with £50 of Marks and Spencers vouchers thrown in. The pair are pretty even in pricing, but Sky+HD has the greater quantity of HD programming.
On a personal note, my 50in HD plasma is itching for high-def broadcasts, but I find both Freesat and Sky+HD to be too costly. Whichever provides the best deal prior to the 2010 World Cup will almost certainly be getting my custom. Unless Freeview HD gets its skates on, of course.