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Alba DVD Player with Freeview 

This is the first dual box that I have seen, great for anyone with a perfectly serviceable tubed analogue TV that only has a single SCART socket; oh thatís exactly my situation when not looking at other peoples offerings.
Alba DVD recorder and Freeview DVB tuner

The box is 42x28x5cm and is silver grey in colour. The total weight is around 2.4kilos. The  front edge has six silvered buttons and the front left has the DVD tray while to the right of this is a LCD display. Once configured most will probably control the unit with the 47 key remote control.

Providing you have a TV with a SCART socket the Alba unit provides everything you will need. So included are a SCART cable, a coaxial fly lead, the remote control and even the two AA batteries for it are supplied. There is a single sheet Quick Start Guide with six images that will probably be enough for most to arrive at the tuning point. From hereon everything is shown on the TV screen.

I found the initial tune did not take place on first switch on as it seemed to be in DVD mode but a press of the mode button sorted that. However a novice might struggle as the Quick Start Guide does not mention this possibility.

The tune found a total of 89 channels on Freeview, 64 TV and 25 radio channels. Not all the TV channels are watchable as a number require a fee to view. Just over half - 46 to be precise - showed viewable TV of some sort at least part of the time these required no extra payments.

There is a 64 page user guide that covers most things - though I could not find any mention of the initial tuning problem when the unit is in DVD mode - and certain extra features are outlined here. For instance the seven day EPG (electronic programming guide) and the now and next feature. These are likely to be new to anyone who has come from only the five analogue channels.

Front-left : Alba DVD/Freeview combination

The DVD player works without problem once you have pressed the mode switch on either the unit or the remote control. All the features you would expect from a DVD player are available such as pause, fast forward, skip to next chapter, slow motion playback etc.

The DVD unit will also play Video CD's, Audio CD's, SVCD CD's, Picture CD's and MP3 CD's. All but the Picture CD's and the MP3 CD's can also be 8cm as well as the standard 12cm ones. As you would expect the region code for this unit is '2'.

From time to time extra channels are added and some units are not the easiest to retune but here it is straightforward following the advice in the user guide. Certainly the user guide works well - with the one omission mentioned - and some may like the reminders/timers feature so you do not miss a program. These are easy to setup using the EPG.

For anyone without a Freeview box this is ideal, certainly should you only have only one SCART socket it saves changing cables etc whenever you want to watch a DVD. A minor gripe, the pass through only works perfectly when the unit is in standby and not off. This may seem a minor complaint but there may be times when you still wish to view the analogue channels, you could of course plug your aerial direct into the PC for those occasions.

Doing my Internet searches found the Alba DVD player with Freeview DVD382STB at a best price of £59.99 from the first link below.

http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/5320974.htm

http://www.albaplc.com/html/Products.htm

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