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Are you looking for an alternative to Freeview, Freesat or a Sky TV alternative? It's tough to beat the might of Sky TV in the UK or Virgin Media's cable television option, with their huge plethra of premium TV channels. At the same time Freeview and Freesat offer excellent free-to-air channels and other providers are available too. But what alternatives are there that we don't hear so much about that could save you a fortune?

TV box alternatives to sky and freeview

Find an alternative TV box


There are situtations where your regular TV service either doesn't provide the channels you want or simply isn't available to you and this is when it's ideal to utilise an alternative tv box or another way of getting TV channels to ensure you don't miss out on the TV you love.


  • Which standard TV service suits you
  • Sky TV Vs Virgin Media's television
  • Freeview alternatives
  • Best internet TV boxes


Which standard TV service suits you best?

We are all use to one TV service or another, be it Freeview, Sky television or Virgin Media's TV service, we are probably all hooked up to at least one of these at home. Many homes around the UK, especially those of us in more rural and remote areas can't get cable services and therefor Virgin Media isn't an option.


There are often times, usually after a house move, where the TV service which we have become accustom to may not be available and here we look at the alternatives available using our Sky dish or broadband internet connection, as well as the more familiar TV arial on the roof or in the loft.



Alternative TV services include:


With a TV arial

Freeview (or Freeview+) is a free to air TV service offering all the basic TV channels and digital radio stations through a TV arial.


With a satellite dish

Freesat offers free to air TV channels via a satellite dish - Similar to Freeview with a few extra channel options.


Openbox / Skybox: These alternative satellite TV recievers also provide free-to-air TV services through satellite. 


With a cable connection

There are few if any alternatives than Virgin Media's paid TV service or TV bundles with a cabled connection.


With a broadband internet connection

Netflix or Amazon Prime offer non-live TV shows and Movies by subscription on devices including PC computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets and other TV connected devices.


Android TV boxes and Amazon Fire TV sticks offer several TV receiving solutions via apps available to download on to the box.


Openbox V8s, Skybox F5 and similar satellite reciving boxes can be manipulated in to reciveing additional premium television channels by connecting the box to an internet connection.


Please note: We do not endorse or in any way encourage the use of any television receiving equipment in order to gain access to content without an existing and legitimate subscription agreement with the channel provider. Recieving television channels for the purpose of viewing, recording, downloading or sharing is illegal in the UK. Always check your local compliance laws before commiting to any such activities.



A closer look at TV boxes


Android TV Boxes

Available new from: GearBest

MXQ Android 5.0 TV Box with remote controlA handy companion to any TV, the android TV box is an affordable addition to any home-entertainment setup with Android boxes retailing from as little as £20.

Think of these Android TV boxes as a mobile phone without the touchscreen - Whereby you will need to control the screen with a remote control or (much more practical) air-mouse on your TV screen.

The price you pay for the box will often reflect the performance of your TV box with the cheaper boxes offering a slow processor, around 8GB or memory and just 1GB of ram, meaning you won't get much gaming on your TV box but the likes of Netflix and other TV streaming apps performing OK. I use a low spec box for exactly that, Netflix, along with a CCTV monitoring app which is handy for seeing who's at the door and I've tried other video apps with little or no luck.

Broadband connection speed will determine your experience on one of these boxes and if you do only spend £20 on your Android TV box then expect the wifi connection to drop-out... a lot. A hard wired internet connection to the box is a must.

You may also want to note that extensive use of the internet to source video content and streaming will quickly gobble up any limits on your downloads from your broadband provider. So we always recommend an unlimited broadband package.

To really get the best out of an Android TV box you'll want a better spec so expect to pay closer to £60, and you'll also want to install Kodi or a similar streaming service. Remember that watching live TV in the UK requires you to hold a valid TV licence and illegal streaming and downloading or sharing TV channels, movies or programming is not endorsed here in any way.



Amazon Fire TV Stick


Amazon Fire HDMI TV Stick with remoteThe Amazon Fire TV stick (and it's big brother the TV box) are very well designed additions to any television. Think of these as a premium version of the above mentioned Android TV box, with Amazon offering what is essentially a re-written version of Android software to operate the device.

The great thing about Amazon's close ties with Android software is that it's possible to "sideload" apps from the Google Playstore on to your Amazon TV stick with little fuss. You'll need to search the web on how to do this and remember to stick to legal and legitimate apps only!

Amazon's Fire TV stick is designed around the Amazon Prime TV service and on first glance can be compared to Netflix for useability but the on-board app store gives you options to expand. If you are an Amazon Prime customer then the £35 or so that one of these will cost you is a small expense for great reward.

A decent broadband connection will be needed at all times to get use out of the Amazon Fire TV stick so if you're not running at least 10mb broadband then you might want to give this one a miss.

As with the Android TV box, continually streaming television via the internet will use a lot of internet data so we recommend sourcing a broadband service which allows unlimited use.



Openbox V8s and other satellite reciever boxes

Openbox V8s TV Satellite receiverThe grey area begins here... The Openbox V8s is the latest satellite receiving TV box offering from a little known company. Now, from doing my homework online it appears immediately that there is only one reason people are purchasing these boxes and that is how easily they can be used to de-scramble premium television channels. Essentially allowing you to recieve most of, if not all satellite televsion channels with a little help from your internet connection. I won't be going in to any additional detail on this here because it's not in my interest to encourage any sort of TV fraud or misuse.

So what else are these Openbox V8s (or Skybox F5 or similar) satellite receivers good for? Well they will offer you an option to recieve free-to-air television channels via any correctly aligned Sky Satellite dish straight out of the box. If you have a sky cable in the room then plug one of these boxes in and you can enjoy TV similar to Freesat, with the box only costing around £30 new. A little research and 5 minutes of tinkering in the settings and you'll find you can easily create a way to record TV channels by simply plugging in a USB stick or external hard drive to one of the boxes USB ports. Pause, rewind and fast-forwarding options are also there so you really do get a lot of free-to-air TV for your money here.



Now TV from Sky

Available new from just £14.99 with a free pass

Black Now TV Box with remoteNow TV is a very easy to use TV box from Sky which is a perfect solution for anyone who is looking to add a few extra TV channels to their Freeview setup or watch movies, or occasional sports channels. The box provides nothing extra and the TV entertainment channels, kids channels, movies or sports are available through separate subscriptions although the box when purchased new will usually include a pass for one of these services.

The Now TV box will only work with a broadband connection (wifi or cabled) and will require a decent broadband speed although the box is advertised to work with a speed of as little as 2.5mb.

I have had a now TV box in the past although I found that for the channels I received, once I used up my included 3 month entertainment pass I wasn't prepared to pay another £5.99 per month. I just didn't feel like I was getting enough for the money given what Netflix and Amazon Prime offer for a similar price.



BT TV, Talk Talk TV and other less familiar options

BT TV Ultra HD TV BoxBT, Talk Talk, EE and many other telecoms providers also offer TV solutions, usually as part of a broadband deal or telephone package. These TV services are usually an extension of the familiar freeview service, offering free-to-air television channels with extended TV guides and the inclusion of an internet connection to the TV box they provide you which will provide additional services such as Netflix and on-demand television services, all in one place.




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