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Come 2012, analogue broadcasts will be a thing of the past, and if you can't afford to replace your analogue TV then a Freeview receiver offers the cheapest and most convenient way of getting digital channels on your old set. Although you can pick them up for next to nothing in supermarkets and online, it's still worth giving your potential purchase the once-over to check that it boasts all the features and connections you need to incorporate it into your system - and that's where we come in.
From a distance, this budget box from Grundig - a brand whose resurgence in the UK has been boosted recently by its involvement in Freesat - is surprisingly good-looking for such a low-cost unit. Its curved, uncluttered fascia and matte finish give it a pleasantly esoteric vibe - in fact if it weren't for the DVB logo on the front it would be hard to tell what it was. It's only when you pick it up and feel its light and plasticky bodywork that you're reminded of its budget price tag.
A quick glance at the rear panel is also initially deceptive. Our eye was drawn to the USB port, which could have opened up the possibility of playing back MP3 files or viewing JPEGs, but sadly those dreaded words ‘for service use only' reared their ugly head. So what we have here is a fairly standard array of sockets, which includes two SCART outputs for simultaneous output to a TV and recorder - though it's yet another Freeview box that fails to acknowledge the existence of DVD recorders and their ability to record in high-quality RGB.
The SCART output designated for the ‘VCR' only offers composite video, which can look really ropey when recorded. Thankfully the other SCART outputs in RGB and composite and you can always loop the RGB signal through your recorder to your TV, but it kind of defeats the object of having two SCART outputs.
Rounding up the connections is a coaxial digital audio output, providing a clean and tidy way of feeding sound to your receiver, and an aerial input and output. Because there's no RF modulator on board, the aerial output only provides an analogue loopthrough facility and doesn't output digital TV channels for SCART-free TVs like the TVonics MDR-250.
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