The very first Freeview HD set top box, the HD-FOX T2, has landed in the UK courtesy of Humax and brings much needed competition in the high definition market currently dominated by Sky TV with its HD offer.
The latter adds £10 to an existing Sky package although you get the set top box for free. Alternatively, you could swap your old Freeview box for a new HD version for a cost of £180 (find out more here).
Equipped with a DVB-T2 tuner, the device packs an eight-day EPG and can upscale standard definition content via its HDMI connector. As expected, you can also find SCART sockets, a USB port for an external storage box and an Ethernet port.
Currently only BBC HD and ITV HD are broadcasting with 4HD and Five HD likely to be available before the end of the year.
The device is already available from John Lewis and on the official Humax website. Freeview HD coverage will be hitting half the UK population by June 2010 just in time for the FIFA 2010 World Cup.
Another well known STB manufacturer, Topfield, has also confirmed that it will be offering a Freeview HD set top box which will be selling under the Icecrypt brand and, at least on paper, looks slightly better than the Humax one.
It is not only cheaper by £20 but also has two CI slots and throws in an optical audio output plus the ability via a firmware update to record to an external hard disk drive.
The real competition comes from the Freesat HD corner where Humax has a very worthy candidate which costs around £250 and not only comes with two HD tuners but also a 320GB hard disk drive, something that the HD-FOX T2 is lacking sorely.