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Broadband, Phone & TV

Saorview Connect - a worthy alternative to your expensive TV package?

Robyn Hamilton

Robyn Hamilton

Staff Writer

Do you find yourself paying for an expensive TV package year after year when in reality you only regularly watch a handful of channels at best? Saorview Connect could be the solution to your needs. And the good news is that it's recently been upgraded in response to customer feedback to allow users pause and record live TV.

Is it just me, or do you find that when you’re not catching up on pre-recorded TV or bingeing on series via the likes of Netflix and NOW TV, you’re sticking steadfastly to those scant few channels that actually broadcast anything half-decent?

Well, apparently quite a lot of you identify. According to an Irish Times Pricewatch poll in 2016, over 70% of respondents said they watched between just one and 10 TV channels per week, where only 6% said they watched more than 10 different channels a week.

And yet, many of us continue to fork out €500+ a year on channel-bloated (not to mention long) TV subscriptions which offer us very little in return beyond the few mainstay channels that we return to on a semi-regular basis.

What’s the solution?

One option is to simply cut the cord by ditching your TV contract altogether and move all of your TV watching online. But what if there was a way to wave goodbye to monthly TV bills but still enjoy a live TV service?

Saorview Connect, the service from Saorview reckons it has the power to meet all your TV watching needs.

What is Saorview Connect?

Saorview Connect is RTE's free-to-air, digital TV service that offers customers permanent, free access to live TV for an initial one-off equipment fee.

Via a device called the Powerpoint Saorview Connect set top box, customers can access Saorview Connect and enjoy the easy-to-use functionality of most paid TV platforms, for free!  

How can I access Saorview Connect?

First make sure you’re in an area covered by the service.

Then in order to receive Saorview Connect you'll need to buy a Saorview set top box and connect it to an aerial.

In order to get a good signal it's recommend you connect your Saorview equipment to an external aerial on your roof - but just make sure your cabling is good quality. However, depending on your location, you may be able to use an indoor aerial to receive Saorview.

If you don't have an existing aerial, don't worry. Just chat to your local electrical retailer who can recommend an approved installer. 

What do I get with the set top box and Saorview Connect?

Once you purchase your set top box and connect it to an aerial you’ll get access to 11 Irish TV channels such as RTE One HD, RTE 2 HD, Virgin Media One, Virgin Media Two, Virgin Media Three, TG4, RTE Junior, RTE One +1, RTE 2+1, RTE News Now, and Oireachtas TV. You'll also receive nine radio stations. 

You can also get access to online on-demand players like the RTE Player and TG4 Player. The Virgin Media Player isn't available right now unfortunately, but that's not to say it won't be added in the future.   

Additionally, if you connect to a satellite dish, you’ll also get access to over 100 additional free-to-air UK channels such as BBC1, BBC2, Channel 4, E4, Film 4, ITV 2, 3 & 4, and Channel 5 among others. 

Saorview Connect now also allows you to pause and record live TV and includes benefits such as catch-up TV and Spotlight, which gives you all the best daily programme recommendations. To get these new features, just connect an external USB drive to your new or existing set top box and follow the simple on-screen instructions. Saorview recommends a USB 3.0 hard drive to ensure that you can record and play back HD content reliably. A 500GB drive will allow approximately 100 hours of recording, or you could opt for a larger size – 1TB or more – if you want extra capacity.  

How much does Saorview Connect cost?

Saorview Connect is free to use, however the set top box needed to access it usually costs between €150 and €200.

If you need to buy an aerial it'll set you back around €20 or €30 at most while a satellite dish will cost you around €100.   

Where can I purchase a set top box to access Saorview Connect?

The Powerpoint Saorview Connect set top box is available in all good electrical retail stores throughout the country, such as Powercity, DID Electrical, Expert Electric, Soundstore, Electrocity and Curry’s.

Do I need an internet connection?

If you want to be able to access the on-demand players as well as certain functions like Spotlight, then you'll need a broadband connection. Otherwise an internet connection isn't specifically needed.  

Should I get Saorview Connect?

As with any product or service, Saorview Connect has its pros and cons. Here are a few to consider:

Saorview Connect Pros:

  • No monthly bills
  • No long contract (indeed no contract at all!)
  • Easy-to-use, seven-day TV guide and roll back function to catch up on all your favourite shows
  • Access to on-demand players
  • Pause and record live TV
  • Record a single episode or an entire TV series

Saorview Connect Cons:

  • Initial set top box is costly enough (up to €200)
  • Virgin Media Player not available at present 
  • If you live in a remote area you may not be able to access the signal
  • Limited channel offering if only connecting to an aerial
  • Additional cost of a satellite dish and installation if you want access to more channels outside of limited Irish offering

Always consider all of your options

Having considered this list the most obvious benefit to anyone considering Saorview Connect is undoubtedly the considerable long-term savings you’ll make year after year following the initial set top box outlay.

The savings come at the cost of extra channels but little else compared to traditional paid TV packages it would seem.

Whether this sounds like a good deal or not will, of course, come down to your personal preferences and how much you love your TV shows. 

As always here at bonkers.ie, we recommend thoroughly scoping out all of the available options before making any definitive suggestions.

For instance, we recently did the maths and discovered that you can save over €500 in a year by ditching your tripleplay bundle in favour of online streaming.

It’s also worth considering that many TV providers offer appealing sign-up offers too. For example, Virgin Media is currently offering its customers three months of unlimited calls, texts and 4G data for free with Virgin Mobile and Eir offers free access to Eir Sport to all of its TV customers.

Easily compare TV packages across all providers on bonkers.ie now.

You might also be interested in... 

Now that you're all up to speed on how to save money on your TV bill, you might also be interested in finding out how to dramatically lower your home's gas and electricity bills. Check out the interview below with the SEAI's CEO Jim Gannon about the various grants it has available to increase your home's energy efficiency:

    

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