Having recently looked at a Freeview device from Humax it seems only fair to offer the same for those who use a Satellite to receive their signal. So what if anything can this method offer to persuade those with a decent aerial signal to switch.
The unit is 33.5x26x5cm and as the current custom seems to be has a front that shows only small LEDs and nothing else when on standby, in just there is a small display to show which channel or recorded item you are watching. My first surprise was that it required Ethernet to do ‘catch up’ TV most units today will do the same with Wi-Fi but if Ethernet is close by it is no real problem.
Bringing together the various streams of entertainment content that is readily available is the stated aim of a black box from Samsung.
The Samsung STB-E7500M is a Freeview dual tuner personal video recorder (PVR) box that comes with a built-in 500GB hard drive for storing content. While not the smallest device of its type, this reflective black box, with dimensions of 330 x 270 x 45mm (W x D x H), is not too demanding with regards to space and it does look stylish enough to fit in with most home environments as you control its range of features with the supplied full-size remote control unit.
While all of the UK has now gone Digital there are a significant number managing on a simple device to import and view the signal, a lot are discovering that their video recorder now just does not function anymore.
So here is a small box that not only imports the signals it allows you to record two at once and even has a working pass though that can watch any digital TV using the same single aerial signal and if that is not enough it has an Ethernet connection so that lots of things like iPlayer and other such things are all available on your TV. The box is 31x28x5cm the middle figure the depth is with all relevant leads plugged into the rear of the View 21.
This is the latest offering from TVonics, the 500GB machine has what some would describe as a bare interface with the front showing up to three pin hole LEDs these appear in different combinations of red and green.
The TVonics DTR-Z500HD measures 18cm long by 22cm deep (with cables inserted) and it's 7cm tall. The unit is black and the corners are rounded off. It is totally controlled by the remote – so don’t lose it – the only connection on the front is a USB socket.
Having looked at an earlier model (not HD) this was an eagerly awaited arrival. Very different in size and shape. My first check was the pass-through and that performed correctly, is this to be the unit I have been looking for?
The TVonics DTR-500HD measures 37x20x9cm but the last figure the height is only 3cm at the front. For me anyway that creates a possible problem. Tuning takes around three minutes mine found 72 TV 23 Radio and 11 Data channels. As with most such units almost everything is controlled from the remote control. Here a 52 key model that of course contains the ubiquitous five position joystick. As always various major buttons are in differing places but once used to the layout it’s easy enough.
This Pace unit (badged Philips) was the first HD unit I saw in a presentation in the spring, here now the production unit. If you need HD recording then this 500GB digital unit may just tick all the boxes on your wish list.
The Philips HDT8520 Dual HD TV Recorder measures 24x20x6cm but you will need at least another 2cm behind the middle figure the depth in order for the cables to be attached. Installation is quite straightforward, the easiest is just to attach the supplied HDMI cable and tune to that channel. The screen should show a Philips Welcome screen. There are a few simple questions to answer before the scan for channels but everything is explained in Quick Start Guide.
It's a while since I've looked at a hard-disk video recorder so I was eager to see what innovations
the SmartBox 8320HD could bring to our family entertainment.
First of all the basics. The product name, "SmartBox 8320 ", should be the first clue that this is one of the recent FreeView HD receivers. It includes two independent tuners allowing various combinations or watching and recording different channels.
As more areas prepare to turn their Analogue TV signals off more companies are bringing out HD TV digital boxes, here an offering from Grundig that in my area anyway gives stunning pictures from the three HD channels.
The Grundig GUD300HD Set Top Box is 26x15x4cm and shiny black but as it need not be touched once in position then this does not matter. You will need another 4cm to the second figure the depth to insert cables in the rear of the unit so actual space required is 26x19x4cm. The leads supplied are a fly lead for those who need one or who still want to use Analogue while available and an HDMI lead. You should also be able to connect via SCART but no SCART cable is provided in the box.
For those with an Analogue TV you will soon either need to buy a new TV or a cheaper option if it is working well purchase a digital box. If you are disabled or certain elderly then you may get help, if not you need to pay, and, this offering from Philips may fit the bill.
Philips DTR 5520 Set Top Box black and measures 28x15x3cm. The front has a blue display that once on displays only the channel number that you are viewing. The installation consists of inserting your aerial lead in the back of the box. Philips provide a fly lead (something that a lot of other manufacturers do not) and this is essential for you to still view analogue signals while they are still available.
With the digital switch-over already under progress, the thoughts of many viewers are turning towards the subject of a set-top box to work in conjunction with their existing analogue television set.
One company in the forefront of producing set-top boxes is the UK-based TVonics. Recently released by the company is its MDR-240 model which is the first unit I have seen that conforms to the Government’s “Core Receiver Requirements”. This initiative decrees that digital receivers should be suitable for the elderly and people with disabilities by including features such as automatic retuning when the need arises.
Not the first Freeview +HD box I have seen but it is the first with built in PVR. So what do you get that you do not get with a standard Freeview box that has PVR. In short its the ability to both watch and record HD via your TV aerial.
The Digital Stream DHR8203U Freeview+ HD box can record two streams (even two HD streams) at the same time but you cannot watch a third so assuming you still have an analogue TV signal you could watch one of the analogue stations whilst recording two digital ones. The more I use this box the more impressed I am with it. Yes it allows you to watch, play and rewind live TV, yes it can do that with the three terrestrial HD channels but it is the other little things that show what it can really do.
Free-to-air HD television is now with us and available from a device such as Sagemcom HD PVR that also includes dual channel recording.
With all the hype that is emanating from various quarters regarding 3D viewing, it is possible that you might have over-looked the announcement dealing with the arrival of Freeview+ HD. Although the various adverts featuring actors performing against high definition backdrops should have helped drive the message home that Freeview now offers support for high definition content.
Anyone with an Analogue TV will need either a new TV or a set top box when your area goes Digital. Some regions have already converted. While a few disabled and elderly will get some assistance others will need to deal with it themselves.
This is a very simple box with a SCART cable inserted in the back you need 21x21x3cm space to put the unit. In standby mode the EZBOX LT-105 Freeview Set Top Box uses less than one watt. It has a very efficient pass through enabling a fly lead to deliver perfect signals to the TV while analogue signals are still available in your region. It also means you can have the benefit of all the extra TV and radio channels now as soon as you switch the unit out of standby mode.
HD TV down your aerial is now possible, some people do not want it with a PVR and this solution from Humax is one such option. So currently apart from all the standard definition stations channels 50-52 are HD channels.
The Humax HD-FOXT2 is 27x20x4cm but the middle figure the depth will need 5cm added to insert a standard SCART plug in. It has a 57 key remote that for most will need some explaining as it tries to cover items not included and also futureproofing as well as current use. The 16 page Quick Star Guide should get most up and running. The 92 page User Guide starts by repeating the Quick Start Guide but when you delve further you should get your answers.
Probably better known to the Mac fraternity, Elgato has recently made moves designed to raise its profile in the Windows marketplace with the release of its EyeTV DTT Deluxe product. This is a television tuner that will work on both the Windows and Mac platforms in conjunction with software developed by Terratec.
Having looked at a number of USB television tuners in the past, my initially impression of the Elgato unit was related to its size. It is definitely the smallest television tuner I have seen and is well qualified for its Micro-Stick designation noted on the product box. This USN stick measurements are 57 x 17 x 9mm (L x W x D), making it a little larger than nano size but small enough not to cause any problems when positioning the stick on even heavily populated array of ports.
Are you ready for the switch-over? Maybe it is time you considered how best to make the move from analogue to digital television.
As the move towards digital television gathers apace, so manufacturers are developing products to temp users to part with their hard earned cash. Recently I looked at a Freeview set-top box from the British Tvonics company. Now it is the turn of the company’s DTR-Z500 model which combines Freeview digital viewing with a 500GB hard drive for storing recorded content.
I have had a satellite disk for years so long in fact it predates Sky however the box with it has long been faulty. Humax now have a service that installs a dish and your unit, when the installer arrived my original disk position was unsuitable because of trees in neighbouring gardens.
So he found a new position on the side of the property, fitted a new dish (with dual LMB’s) nearly fitted the cables and drilled through into my lounge. The Humax Foxsat-HD unit came out of its box and was switched on. It then tuned to the satellite (far faster than Freeview tuning) and that was it, less than one hours work and I was up and running.
Adding television reception to your computer has never been easier with various companies offering products. This next product was developed by Pinnacle but now forms part of the Hauppauge portfolio
Freesat is a digital television service that has come about as the result of a co-operative venture between the BBC and ITV.
This offering will provide subscription free access to satellite delivered television channels and services without the need to tie a customer to a contract. Currently the Freesat offering stands at 80 channels featuring those available via Freeview with one or two extra morsels. While this is subscription-free, some expense will be necessary in order to receive this service. For a start you will need a Freesat digital box or a television with built-in Freesat capability.
We all know Digital TV is coming but before you chuck out perfectly good TVs because they do not have a SCART socket there is a way to get Digital TV using this little box from TVonics.
I have a 14inch Analogue TV that sits in my kitchen it works fine but when the switch off gets to my area it will end up in landfill or so I thought till I heard of this TVonics box. I had thought of adding a Digital Box but they all need a SCART socket apart from this offering. The box is 7x9x2.5cm with cables inserted. In fact this can be hidden away anywhere and the only visible item is a little 4x3x1cm IR sensor unit.