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Buying a TV in Ireland - The Best Set-up

Updated 15th July 2018

Wish List

We don't have many TV channels in Ireland so we're reliant on the UK channels to give us more choice. So I'm looking for a TV that will give me the best access to Irish and UK channels at the same time. For most of Ireland the only way to get UK TV is by satellite. Fortunately most of the main UK channels are available free of charge via satellite.

Ideally, I'd love to have a TV that would give me all the Irish channels and UK channels together along with full programme guides, roll-back services and on-demand apps. Unfortunately such a TV does not exist so I have to come up with some sort of compromise set-up to get the best mix I can.

In addition I would also like to get access to foreign language stations from the European continent too.

UK Channels

For most people in Ireland you will need to have a satellite dish to access UK channels. We're lucky in Ireland to be able to access the UK channels. The satellite signal for the UK channels has to be wide enough to cover all of mainland UK and Northern Ireland. The signal ends up covering the Republic too as we are in a spill-over area for the signal.

UK 7 day programme guide

So, I'm looking for a setup that can give me a seven day programme guide (EPG) for the UK channels.

A TV with a satellite tuner will be able to pick up UK channels with a 'now and next' programme guide which is better than nothing but is really very limited. However if your TV has 'Freesat' software installed you will be able to get an 8 day programme guide. Not all TVs have freesat installed - only Samsung, LG and Panasonic have it. So this limits your selection straight away. To complicate matters further the TVs shipped to Irish retailers will not have Freesat marked on the packaging. That's because Freesat won't be part of the Irish regional set-up of the TV and will only be part of the UK regional set-up. However the UK regional set-up should be available to you as an option when you first set-up the TV. You'll probably end up with a load of apps that only work in the UK but you should be able to delete those.

You have to have a sattelite dish to get the UK channels. A standard satellite box will only give you a now and next programme guide but 'freesat' boxes are available which can give you a seven day guide. ('Freesat' is the UK's free to air sattellite service which is easily confused with 'Freeview' which is the UKs terrestrial service). I want to limit the amount of boxes and remote controls I have to deal with. So instead of getting a Freesat box I am looking for a TV with Freesat built-in. However I don't know how many TVs in Ireland have freesat built in. Only Samsung, LG and Panasonic TVs have freesat built in [freesat.co.uk]. Even if a TV shows that it has inbuilt Freesat on the freesat.co.uk website I'm not sure that the same model sold in Ireland will have Freesat built in. You have to remember to set the TV to UK for freesat to work [boards.ie]

UK Roll-back

Roll-back is not available with UK satellite channels so I can discount that straight off.

Irish Channels - Roll-back

The only way to get rollback for Irish channels is to get the Saorview Connect box released in Dec 2018. No TV has it so there's no getting around having to get a box with a separate remote control if you want this service.

Irish Channels - Demand

The RTÉ player app is not generally advertised as being on TVs by Irish retailers. I don't think the app is updated to work with the various operating systems that manufacturers have on their TVs. It's on the Google Play store so in theory it should work on a television with an android operating system but this excludes major brands such as Samsung (Tizen) and LG (WebOS)

So its back to having the Saorview Connect box which, in addition to its rollback service, will also give you the RTÉ and TG4 players (but not TV3).

European Channels

I'm also hoping set up a second satellite dish to pick up European channels. Ideally my TV will have two satellite tuners to allow me to this. The saorview connect box has two sattelite inputs but I'm not sure if the second one works or not.