Pace, Philips unveil new Freeview HD kit

Wednesday, March 24 2010, 12:53 GMT

By Andrew Laughlin,

Pace and Philips have jointly unveiled a new Freeview HD set top box and a HD Freeview+ PVR for launch before the World Cup in June.

The receivers, which carry Philips branding but are actually designed and produced by Pace, will offer access to all HD channels on Freeview - BBC HD, ITV1 HD and the forthcoming Channel 4 HD.

However, Pace retail sales manager Mike Smart said that the BBC has not indicated its plans as yet for the Freeview HD capacity made available following the failure to launch of Five HD.

As an entry level model, the Philips DTR5520 HD receiver features a SCART, HDMI and Ethernet port, along with USB slots for software upgrades and media uploads. The product will cost £149.99 when it launches in mid-April.

The Philips HDT8520 PVR features a 500GB hard drive, enabling users to record up to 250 hours of standard definition content or around 125 hours of HD programming.

Twin tuners mean one programme can be watched while another is recorded, with all stored content being automatically locked to avoid accidental deletions. The PVR will cost £299 when it becomes available in mid-May.

"We're delighted to be among the first-to-market in this exciting new area of free-to-air high-definition TV," said Pace retail group account director Olivier le Balle.

"Many of the world's biggest pay-TV operators rely on us to develop and deliver high-definition set-top boxes to exacting standards for their demanding customers, and we already produce one of the UK's biggest selling Freeview boxes, so we're adept at creating stylish, robust digital TV receivers.

"With our Freeview HD boxes, we've focused on bringing striking design and low-power usage, coupled with a comprehensive array of features, early to the Freeview HD market. The World Cup's going to look incredible in HD through our boxes."

During a preview session yesterday in London, Pace said that the industry has learned from the launch of Freeview in 2002 and will be ready to supply customers with accurate information on service availability.

The Freeview HD rollout timetable aims to have 50% UK coverage by the World Cup and 98.5% coverage by the end of the digital switchover in 2012.

Freeview is also offering a coverage check database for users to input their postcode and receive information about when they will get access to the HD service.