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FrequencyCast UK - Show #08

The contents of the eighth of our online shows

Listen to FrequencyCast Show #08

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Here's what you'll find in FrequencyCast #08:


This show's news section covers the following:

  • Top Up TV - More problems for the new Anytime service... the boxes, vital to using the new service, have been delayed by a couple of months. Calling their helpline in early November gives the recorded message: "The new Top Up TV+ boxes will start to be dispatched before the end of November. We hope to complete all current orders by early to mid December and any orders received before 31st of October will be dispatched prior to Christmas". Top Up TV Anytime, and we have an update on the story we featured last show. More details of the Anytime service can be found on our Top Up TV Anytime page.

  • Lobster 700TV Update: News of the Lobster 700 phone from Virgin Mobile we reviewed in the last show - ITN News now added to the TV lineup, and the Interactive 'Red button' stuff is now working on the phone making this even more powerful.

  • TomTomOne Satellite NavigationTomTom SatNav: Our favourite Sat Nav unit, The TomTom One has been updated - TomTom One Mk2 is now out. It's a smaller size, now has maps of Ireland, and can be charged from a USB port. It's also cheaper, at around £150.

  • Sky Digital - Series 3 of the top TV series 'Lost' comes to Sky One from November 2006, being poached from Channel 4 - Sky is understood to have paid up to £975,000 per episode for Series 3.
    This FrequencyCast show was recorded in November 2006, and in that month, Sky was offering a special half-price offer: sign up for half-price Sky TV for the first 3 months (just £7.50 a month). This offer also included free digibox, satellite dish and installation. Offer was only valid until 30 November 2006. See for any current offers.

Freeview News

Two Freeview snippets in since the last show:

  • BBC Parliament to go full-screen from 13 November 2006.
  • Channel 4 are ditching their Quiz Call TV channel from 16 Nov 2006. We understand that, at least in the short term, the space on Freeview will be taken by Film 4 + 1
Voice calls over Internet

For this show's Focus section, Carl and Pete explore the world of VoIP - Voice over the Internet. We tried out a number of the current solutions available in the UK, and explored the options, which include:

  • Windows Live / MSN Messenger - Free software from Microsoft that gives you free voice, video and text conversations over the Internet. You need a PC and headset/mic to make use of MSN voice. Add a webcam for video.
  • Skype - Free voice calls to other PCs using the free Skype software. With their SkypeOut service, you can call standard phones and mobiles for cheaper calls
  • BT Broadband Talk - Call savings similar to Skype. Marketed with a range of phone handsets and the BT Home Hub. Audio quality is excellent - better than Skype in our tests
  • BT Broadband Video Calls - You can use special software from BT to get videocalling with a webcam on your PC, or use one of the special BT videophone handsets. We try out the Videophone 2000 on the show.
  • Vonage - Unlimited voice calls to UK landline numbers, and discounted calls to other numbers, for £7.99 a month. You get a special Vonage box that allows you to plug in normal home phones.

Vonage Free calls

We've set up a page on this subject, and we'd suggest you take a look at our VoIP page for more details.

Verballs VerballsAs part of our feature on Voice Over IP, we looked at these crazy little critters, the Verballs. These are a family of five voice-over-Internet devices that connect to your PC via USB. Essentially, they're hands-free phone call devices, but they're so much more than that - when you get an incoming Skype voice call, they make noises, wave their little arms, and flash lights. When you're connected and making a voice call, the Verball's mouth moves in time which what's being said. These are a seriously fun way to make use of Voice Over Internet, and we reckon they're the top Xmas 2006 Christmas present for any gadget-lover! Hear one in action on the show, buy one from Firebox, or see our Verballs page for more.


Thanks to everyone who got in touch. In this show, we respond to the following mails and calls:

  • Sky HD: John asked whether we can expect to see Sky Digital phase out non-HD programming over time, to make way for more high-definition programming. Our take is that we're some way away from that. As Sky HD customers will tell you, there's not a lot of HD content available on the dedicated HD channels. Doubtless this will increase, but as with Sky Digital, change is slow, and tends to be driven by user demand. Until there's a high percentage of HD hardware out there, it's not in Sky's interests to remove standard definition content. Got any thoughts on this? Please add them to our Blog

  • Digiguide - We had a question in from Steven Roberts asking whether we'd recommend the TV listings service, Digiguide... Pete says: "I love DigiGuide, and hope that we can feature this product in a forthcoming show. They offer a PC-based and a web-based TV guide. For a small annual fee, you get the ability to search TV listings for terrestrial, Sky, Freeview and cable channels, search for keywords, set programme reminders and stacks more. I use Digiguide's web service on my Windows Mobile using the Avantgo service to sync three days of TV listings, and get it to tell me what to watch. I'd recommend it!". There's a free trial of DigiGuide for Windows at

  • HomePlug security: Alan H asked us a few questions about HomePlugs - We featured HomePlugs way back in Show 2. These allow you to use a home's mains sockets as an alternative way of connecting to Broadband, without relying on wi-fi or a cable connection to your broadband router.
    In Show 2, we looked at the Devolo HomePlugs, and the good news for Alan is that, according to Devolo, their HomePlugs can be used with X10 home automation products, which use different frequencies and can coexist in the same household. As for security, neighbours can only 'see' HomePlugs if they're on the same mains phase, which is unlikely. Even if they do, it's possible to secure your homeplugs. With the Devolo products, such as the dLAN Ethernet, you can set a password, and their products use 56bit DES encryption. The Maplin website allows you to download the PDF manual for the Devolo dLAN kit if you're looking to discover more.

  • Missing Freeview remote - A message in from Susan Barone: "The dog has chewed the remote control, please tell me how to get a new one." - If you're looking for a new dog, try Battersea Dogs Home. If you're looking for a new remote, see our Lost Remote FAQ

  • Laptop security - A question from Rob Snooks. "My daughter wants a laptop for Christmas and I wasn't to sure how to connect it to the net via wi-fi. I have a cable broadband connection on my PC and I also wondered whether I needed to protect the laptop with separate virus protection, or would the PC's Internet security cover it?" Our team's response is that Rob could look at getting a router that has a built-in firewall. This will offer a basic level of protection to anyone connecting to the Internet. Your existing cable equipment may have one of these. This won't protect you against viruses, and it's recommended that each machine that connects to the Internet has an up-to-date virus checker. You may want to consider a package like Mcafee Internet Security, which offers firewall, anti-virus, privacy protection and parental controls.

  • Freeview subtitles - We had a message from Arthur Pettifer reporting that his viewing of Freeview was being spoilt by subtitles. This is almost certainly a setting on his Freeview box. We advice that Arthur takes a look through the on-screen menus on his Freeview box and looks for the subtitle option - there'll be an option to turn them off. If you have the same problem, and the Subtitle option isn't obvious, then check the manual.

  • The future of radio? Following on from our last show about the Digital Switchover we had a question in from Brian Dey asking whether we can expect to see FM and AM analogue radio making the switch over to digital. Well, as far as we know, there are no firm plans as yet, but we reckon it's only a matter of time before there's a push to get us all over to DAB, where there's a better channel choice.

  • Can't receive Five US. We had a message to our podline from Christine, saying that she could receive Five US on one of her Freeview boxes, but not on one of her other boxes. this is likely to be one of two things - either there's not enough signal getting to the other set-top box (in which case our FAQ should help), otherwise the box may need a reset and to have a "scan for new channels" run on it.

  • National Geographic on Telewest. We had a call to our podline from a listener asking why National Geographic had suddenly vanished from his Telewest cable TV channel lineup. At the time of recording, National Geographic was part of the Telewest "Supreme" package, which you normally have to subscribe to. Sometimes, Telewest made some of it's premium channels free-to-view for a short time to entice people to watch, and then subscribe, to pay channels. Telewest is now owned by Virgin Media. To get this subscription channel, you need to subscribe to an appropriate Virgin Media's digital TV package.

  • Sky One on Freeview? Finally for this show, we had a message from Terry Gilham asking if Sky One would be available on TopUp TV or Freeview. The answer's no... Sky One is on Sky Digital and cable.


For more, see our list of previous shows , or have a look at our Topics page to see what we've covered recently.

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