There's a revolution happening in TV catch-up. Paid TV services have long offered on demand services, as have individual applications for a multitude of broadcasters, but now there's a subscription free alternative to catching up on television shows you've missed, all from the same electronic programme guide you'd normally use to change channels.
Freeview Play is the subscription free technology that gives you the opportunity to scroll back through the Freeview EPG and choose shows that were on in the last seven days. Click on one and it opens in the channel's dedicated on demand service and plays automatically.
This is possible on any home entertainment kit that is Freeview Play ready and since the launch of the tech in October last year, several devices have hit the market already. You don't even need to break the bank to get the service yourself.
So what kind of products are available now, what are coming, and which would be the best for you? We take a look.
In the market for a new TV?
If you are looking for a new television because you might have heard of Ultra HD and 4K there are Freeview Play sets already available you might want to check out. And with manufacturers jumping on board all the time there are also others on the horizon that will be available soon.
Panasonic is the leading Freeview Play TV maker at present, with a range of 4K TVs that come with the service already installed. There are multiple screen sizes and prices that start as low as £500, so something for everyone.
The Panasonic Viera TX-40CX680B, for example, is a 40-inch 4K TV that was updated to include Freeview Play. Its not 3D-ready but 3D in the home is being phased out anyway and it comes with three HDMI 2.0 ports, each with HDCP 2.2 copy protection, so can playback 4K Blu-rays.
The Panasonic Viera TX-50CX700B is a £700 50-inch 4K TV for those who have a little more room and fancy a bigger screen size. And for just £100 more, you can get voice-control and a few more features with the Panasonic Viera TX-50CX802B (which we reviewed here on Pocket-lint at the end of last year, when it was priced considerably more than £800).
If you're looking to bump up the screen size even more, and don't mind paying extra for the privilege, the Panasonic Viera TX-55CR852B offers 55-inch thrills and a curved.
Finally, the Panasonic Viera TX-65CR730B is a mammoth 65-inch 4K TV with Freeview Play and curved screen for just shy of £1,650.
Willing to wait a bit longer to get a TV?
All of the sets Freeview Play sets currently available in the UK are made by Panasonic, but it's not the only company to commit to compatible TVs this year.
LG's 2016 range of webOS 3.0 TVs will feature Freeview Play, with the catch-up version of the EPG being rolled out in the summer.
Happy with your TV but still want Freeview Play?
If you're not looking to upgrade your television, you could always add a Freeview Play-enabled set-top-box. These will cost you a one-off fee to buy but unlike services like Sky and Virgin Media, there's no future fees, monthly or otherwise.
Humax has two set-top-boxes available, the Humax FVP-4000T 500GB and FVP-4000T.
The latter doubles the available on-board storage to 1TB in order to record programmes. Both have Freeview Play access and three HD digital TV tuners, so you can record up to four channels at once.
They also have DLNA connections, so you can stream video over your home network from a connected PC.
The entire range of Freeview channels can be watched through both boxes and they cost £200 and £225 respectively.
Panasonic also has a duo of HD digital TV recorders with Freeview Play.
The Panasonic DMR-HWT150EB comes with 500GB of storage and two HD tuners. It also has access to Amazon Instant Video and Netflix for £240.
Its sister, the Panasonic DMR-HWT250EB ups the ante with a 1TB HDD for £260.
Freeview Play comes in Blu-ray players too
If you're looking for an all-in-one solution, which you can pair with your existing television, Panasonic also has two combination machines that are digital TV recorders with Freeview Play, but also have the ability to playback Blu-rays - standard and 3D.
The Panasonic DMR-PWT655EB has twin HD tuners like the company's digital recorders. It also has a 1TB hard drive to store programming on. However, it can also play Blu-rays and DVDs, plus stream media over a home network. It's currently available around £300.
There's a 500GB version too, the Panasonic DMR-PWT550EB.
It's worth remembering that this is just the first wave of Freeview Play devices. These are all currently available but there are also many more on the way.
If you want to make catching up with your favourite television shows more intuitive and, importantly, for free, Freeview Play is the way to go. Hopefully, we've given you some food for thought when you're next in the market for entertainment gadgetry.
You can find out more about the products with Freeview Play here.
Get catch-up and on demand TV for £0 per month with Freeview Play. Click here to find out more.