It’s a reality for most of us that modern life puts increasing pressures on our time. Where once people used to sit in a pub at lunch time enjoying a liquid lunch, they now sit at their desks munching away on whatever overpriced sandwich they can find from the nearest Pret a Manger or sandwich van. Time is, as they say, of the essence and it remains the same at home.
As such, everyone wants to be able to do things when they want. This reality stretches as far as television, with devices such as the Sky+ box and any number of Personal Video Recorders (PVRs) proving very popular. Want to go out but don’t want to miss the latest episode of 24? Set it to record on your Sky+ box, or your Freeview PVR, and you’re ready to go out and enjoy yourself.
PVR capabilities are just one of the features of Evesham’s iPlayer, and on paper its one impressive machine. Sporting a Freeview Digital Tuner, 80GB internal hard-drive, Ethernet port and HDMI output, the iPlayer is both PVR and self styled high-definition media hub all in one small unit.
Moreover, the iPlayer features a plethora of connections with a USB and TopUp TV slot on the left and RF In and Out, HDMI, 3.5mm audio out, SPDIF optical audio, two SCART sockets, Ethernet and power adapter all located on the back.
The HDMI out is a particular selling point, enabling the iPlayer to up-scale standard definition broadcasts to up to 1080i and of course play High-Def video streamed over a network from your PC or a USB hard drive connected to the iPlayer.
However, inside the box, Evesham doesn’t include an HDMI cable choosing instead to pack in the iPlayer unit itself, a SCART cable, network cable, aerial cable, power cable and a remote. With HDMI supposedly such a key feature why is a cable not provided? Only Evesham can answer that.
Once you’ve unpacked everything the dullness of the design is immediately apparent. Finished in matte silver, the iPlayer is never going to win any awards for styling. This, however, is not the key problem with the unit and it is at least small and inconspicuous enough that it shouldn’t be noticed.
No, the real problem is an obvious lack of build quality. We’ve had two review units in, with the first suffering from some quality issues, and though our second unit worked fine both units exhibited the same level of slap-dash workmanship. The plastic casing seems thin and flimsy, the main board is poorly secured causing it to rattle when shaken lightly and the supplied remote features an appalling 4-way control pad that’s a nightmare to use. In short, it feels like a product that ought to cost £50 rather than £300.