It seems like this day would never come but on the 4th May, Channel 5 HD finally launched on Freeview and Freesat. This completes the set with all 5 of the original analogue terrestrial channels now available in HD.
Since Freeview HD first launched back in 2010, Channel 5 HD has always been conspicuously absent. Over the many years and many updates, as the HD channels grew, Channel 5 HD never quite made the list for one reason or another.
Channel 5 HD originally launched on Sky and so has actually been around for a few years for paying customers. But because of a recent deal with Sky, it wasn't actually allowed on a free-to-air service so couldn't be broadcast on Freeview or Freesat.
The bosses at Channel 5 always maintained that they were committed to launching Channel 5 HD on the Digital Terrestrial platforms so it was always coming but it was never clear exactly when, until now!
This now means that the top five channels can be enjoyed in glorious HD for the first time on a free-to-air service. Top shows such as The Gadget Show, Gotham, NCIS, Person of Interest and yes endless repeats of Police Interceptors are now available in HD. Plus of course Home and Away and Neighbours if you're into your Australian soaps.
What's the quality like?
I'm happy to report that it's actually very good. In my limited time with Channel 5 HD on Freeview, overall I've been impressed.
As always quality can vary from programme to programme so it's never an even playing field when it comes to judging, but so far so good.
I was having a look at The Saturday Show this morning and the detail was sharp and the colours were really punchy. On the other hand the latest episode of the Gadget Show was slightly less impressive (considering this is a gadget and tech show!). It was still very good especially when you flick back to SD but didn't quite have the same ‘pop’ as The Saturday Show.
Programmes are being broadcast in both 1080i and 1080p.
Freeview HD Channels
Of course some might scoff at the introduction of Channel 5 HD. Film 4 tends to be top of most people's list for an HD upgrade. To an extent I agree but with odd channels such as QVC+1 HD and RT HD taking up precious HD slots, these would be my top targets to be replaced by better quality channels rather than Channel 5.
The total number of HD channels on Freeview now stands at a pretty impressive 15 (and remember BBC Three has now moved to online only).
- BBC ONE HD
- BBC TWO HD
- ITV HD
- Channel 4 HD
- Channel 5 HD
- BBC FOUR HD
- BBC NEWS HD
- Al Jazeera HD
- Channel 4 + 1 HD
- 4seven HD
- QVC + 1 HD
- QVC Beauty HD
- RT HD
- CBBC HD
- Cbeebies HD
Channel 5 HD 5.1 surround sound
You might be wondering if Channel 5 HD also supports 5.1 surround sound? Well so far I'm yet to confirm nor deny this. I'll be checking a few obvious candidates over the next few days such as a few movies and American TV shows and I'll report back when I know more.
So far however I've only witnessed plain old Dolby Digital 2.0
Unfortunately it's not looking good, so far I haven't found any programmes that are broadcast in 5.1 Dolby surround sound. I've tried a couple of different movies and the latest series of NCIS and everything is in 2.0 stereo.
So it looks like Channel 5 HD (for the time being anyway) is following suit with ITV HD and only broadcasting programmes in Dolby 2.0 which is disappointing.
How do you get Channel 5 HD?
Of course you need an HDTV with either a Freeview HD or Freesat HD tuner. Some TVs or set-top boxes automatically update when they find new channels so you may have already seen a message to update or retune.
If not, you'll have to do this manually by going into your settings and retuning.
Channel 5 HD can be found on channel 105.