When the weather during your holiday isn’t quite what you had hoped for, you may find yourself stuck inside with only the television for entertainment. Before heading out next summer, keep in mind that with the completion of the digital switchover across the UK, you may need to upgrade your equipment or switch to a digital television set to be able to watch anything.
The digital switch affects motorhomes and caravans just like it did in your home, limiting your service to reception through a digital receiver. Currently, you can watch television while traveling either on a laptop, tablet, or computer, with a Freeview box, or via satellite.
No matter which device you decide to go with, test it out while still at home in case you need assistance, and to get the best reception, park away from buildings, trees, or any obstruction that may block your signal reception; remember, the clearer the line of site, the better the reception.
Computer, Tablet, or Laptop
Most camping sites now offer WiFi to enable campers to use the Internet or watch programs via their computers, tablets, or laptops. Be aware that most campsites also charge up to £9.00 per day for use, which can become quite expensive, and in order for your program not to freeze, the WiFi signal must be strong and steady.
A second option for travellers who want to use their computers, laptops, or tablet is via a USB TV tuner, which inserts into the USB port of your device after software is installed. Before purchasing it ensure your device fulfills the manufacturer requirements and that you have the correct operation system. Be warned that iPads do not have a USB port, so this is not an option for many Apple device owners. Also, you may want to consider purchasing an external aerial to boost the signal to the device, as the aerial in the USB stick is small.
If your television doesn’t already have one built in, the Freeview box is another option for those who want to use their televisions on the road. With this device you should be able to receive the same channels you do at home, though be warned that some areas are unable to receive a strong signal. Also, if the weather is bad, or if you are located in the hills or in a valley, you might not be able to receive a quality signal if you are able to receive one at all. Because the aerials that come with your motorhome or caravan are generally not too powerful, you may want to consider purchasing a better one that can be attached to the caravan or set up on a portable tripod.
While satellite remains the most expensive option, it is also the most dependable, especially if travelling abroad, or if you will be travelling for an extended period of time. The cost will vary depending on dish size, though the larger the dish the more signal you can receive. If you plan to stay within the UK a 50-cm would be adequate, however if you will be travelling a distance, a 120-cm dish would be recommended to be able to receive UK satellite signal.
Freesat, much like Freeview, is free satellite service in which you receive many of the same channels as available through Freeview. You will need to purchase a dish and receiver box to convert the signal. There is also a kit that aids signal location making it far less difficult than it used to be when you had to do it manually.
What type of device you decide on will depend on your needs, how much you are willing to spend, and how much time you plan on watching television.