Freeview HD now official, Channel 4 HD joins the party

Despite having been available for a couple of months to some viewers, Freeview HD was officially launched today, bringing subscription-free high definition broadcast television to millions in the UK. Those who have been following the launch of Freeview HD will know that it has been progressively rolling out across transmitters around the country.

"The moment is now for Freeview HD", said Ilse Howling managing director of Freeview, as she marked the official launch of the service.

However, the service will not be available to all UK viewers at this stage, with 50% of viewers able to access the service now, 60% by the World Cup in June, but those in the far reaches will have to wait until the end of 2012 before getting access to the new service.

Boxes will start at under £100 and come in at prices up the scale to the latest and greatest TVs equipped with a Freeivew HD tuner, a huge run down of which we gave you in our guide here. Freeview+ HD recorders will start from around £250.

Freeview HD is launching with three HD channels as we see Channel 4 HD coming into the fold, having previously been available through the Sky and Virgin Media services.

Five will be absent from the party, although the company are expected to have an HD service available on Freeview HD by the end of 2012. Five HD was recently taken on by Sky and is expected to launch by the end of July.

The slot that Five didn't fill is still available and has been handed back to the BBC, with the promise of an announcement soon and a likely launch by the end of this year, although it won't necessarily be another BBC channel.

Viewers in Wales will be able to access the S4C service in HD, which will be known as Clirlun.

Freeview will this week begin running a range to advertising, including TV advertising, which will tempt viewers with a line-up of tantalising programmes like Wimbledon, Dr Who, Ashes to Ashes, Master Chef, Britain's Got Talent, the FIFA World Cup and The Apprentice.

If you still have no idea what Freeview HD is all about, why not check out our What the Hell Is? guide