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Free satellite channels growing in numbers and making FTA receivers as a musthave gadget

How 'free' are the Free-to-Air programs and their receivers? FTA or Free-to-Air broadcasts are no more unfamiliar to us. In the world of entertainment, satellite TV or cable TV literally revolutionized the media. With a life of almost two decades by now, Satellite TV has become something that we can not live without. Satellite TV business is a growing one with investments pouring in. Thousands of satellite channels are spawning everyday.

Not all of them are paid. There are many broadcasting stations including some of the media giants, that transmit 'free-to-air' or FTA programs. The only thing you need is a FTA satellite receiver from popular brands like Nfusion, Viewsat, Pansat or SonicView and some related accessories.

FTA transmissions use MPEG-II data compression protocol that is received by the FTA receivers. Some of the receivers today are compliant with DVB or digital video broadcast and high definition or HD content. FTA broadcasts are very popular these days, and FTA receiver manufacturers have given due attention to this by investing a lot to produce and develop receivers.

FTA programs are popular because they are 'FREE'. It does not take a lot of money to own an FTA system. There are hundreds of FTA channels that show variety of programs some of which are as good as those of pay channels. FTA receivers are particularly useful beyond urban and suburban areas and remote places where your cable operators do not have their offices/services. FTA programs also gained popularity because they air some ethnic and religious programs for a target population segment. Now that you know what is FTA and FTA system (system includes accessories together with the receiver), you sure will ask me, "Which is the best FTA receiver?".

I have no easy solution for you. It is really a difficult issue to choose a 'best' receiver. This is because there are many 'bests'. All I can do is to give you some tips. Some great receiver brands are as I said, Nfusion, Viewsat, Pansat or SonicView.

You may shortlist these brands from other popular brands in the market like Fortec, CaptiveWorks, Coolsat, BlackBird, UltraStar, Ariza, MultiStar, Digiwave, and Twinhan. They all come as 'stand-alone' receivers or 'packages' or 'systems'. I personally own an Nfusion Nova which gives me all that I want from an FTA receiver.

Besides standard features it has Ethernet port (for self-updating), 4000 channels, Tele-Text support, plasma friendly and many other options. I paid less than $250 with all accessories included. From SonicView the popular models are SonicView SV4000, SonicView 360 Premier, SonicView SV8000HD and SonicView 360 Elite. Standard format SonicView receivers cost under $200 and High Definition (HD) format receivers cost around $400. Models from Pansat, a much known name for receivers, include Pansat 2800A, Pansat 2700A, Pansat 6000HXC, Pansat 3500SD, Pansat 9200HD and Pansat 250SM.

They have almost similar price like SonicView. Viewsat, another good brand, comes with Viewsat Extreme, Viewsat Lite, Viewsat Ultra, Viewsat Pro with prices from $130-$190. The same brand's HD format receiver (Viewsat 9000HD Version 2) costs around $420.

Viewsat, Pansat, Nfusion or SonicView, whatever is the model, technical specifications are more or less similar and stand-alone receiver units also have similar price tags. What makes the difference is the package price. Be sure, you check out details of the packages before you buy a receiver.

DSS Boxes is author of this article on Sonicview 8000 HD. Find more information about Viewat 9000 HD here.

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