Alice-Azania Jarvis: My vintage TV could yet open up a new world

In The Red

Ok, so I got lucky. Last week I mentioned that I was tempted to start investing in my TV. Not by buying a new one, some monstrosity with a flat screen and lots of D capacities (3D, HD, World Domination). No, I'm perfectly happy with the miniature model I currently have; given that it dates back to some time in the early 1990s, I rather fancy it counts as vintage.

What I was talking about was buying a box. Of some description. You know the ones: you plug them into your telly and they miraculously open up a whole new world of television channels, packed full of glossy, shiny shows.

I was in two minds about it for several reasons. Firstly, I'm concerned this means I'm getting old. Once upon a time, not many moons ago, my spending priorities would revolve around grande lattes from Starbucks and cheap white wine. Now it's television and less cheap, red wine. Second of all, spending is, well, spending – and it's something I generally try to avoid.

It was some time after I'd resolved to refrain from expanding my viewing repertoire, at least for the time being, that I got lucky. Freeview called me. They'd read my column and wanted to know if my TV was HD ready. I said it wasn't, they sounded disappointed and bid my goodbye. I felt as though I'd failed a test. Then they called again. Did it have a red cable (or something)? Um, I don't know, I said. Again, they sounded disappointed. Test failed.

And then they emailed. Would I like to try out a Freeview box? They had originally intended to lend me their new HD one, which does things like record television programmes, but if I wanted I could borrow the less snazzy version and see if I liked it. If I do, then a similar one really wouldn't be too expensive to buy (a quick Amazon search reveals they're about £20 which, I suppose, is a reasonably good deal). Of course, I said yes – no point looking a gift horse in the mouth, is there? – so now I am the proud owner of a borrowed Freeview box and, for the first time in my life, can start to flick through the "digital" section of the TV guide.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you how it works because I haven't set it up yet. It's currently sitting in a big white bag next to my desk, while I figure out the best way to navigate by bus-Tube-Tube-walk home. But still, the promise is there – and, best of all, I haven't had to spend a penny.

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