Freeview HD is set to debut in the UK within the next five months thanks to the BBC which expects the standard to cover half of the UK population by the time the World Cup starts in South Africa in 2010.
Manchester and London will be the first to get access to Freeview HD on the 2nd of December 2009 during the initial HD roll out with an estimated 98.5 percent of the country getting the update by the end of 2012, just after the London Olympics.
Unfortunately for television buffs, they will need a new Freeview HD set top box or a new television altogether. Such STBs will need to have a Freeview HD certification and at worse, customers might have to buy a whole new TV set if their Freeview tuners is built in their television sets.
Users of the regular Freeview services will not be affected by the new, superior service. It will be interesting to gauge how the rest of the competition (BT Vision, Virgin Media, Sky) will react to the new challenge.
New Freeview HD tuners have yet to go on sale. A quick search for some such devices proved to be disappointing. With only two weeks left, those interested in the service will have to wait until 2010 to get access to a Freeview HD box and until at least Spring 2010 to get a Freeview+ HD recorder.
One could possibly argue that Freesat is a better bargain right now. BBC, ITV, Five and Channel 4 will be available on both platforms. The only reason why you'd stick with Freeview HD might be because you want to use your existing aerial rather than invest in a satellite dish.