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Another admirable quality is the user-friendly onscreen design, which makes it appealing to first timers as well as hardened digital TV viewers. When you first boot it up, the First Time Installation mode lets you select your country, screen format and TV SCART output options, before launching you head first into the auto channel tuning mode - the entire process takes less than five minutes.
In use, the stumpy remote does its best to keep up the good work, but its swarm of fiddly, homogenous buttons makes it a bit of a let down. The unit makes up for it by responding instantly to remote commands and providing quick, slick digital text access.
There are no complaints about the unit's picture quality. Set to RGB, the SCART socket delivers well-defined, richly saturated digital TV pictures that look great on a 32in LCD screen. The set of Channel 4's Richard & Judy might look like an explosion in a paint factory, but it's the perfect way to show off the Philips' effortless handling of bright colours, doing a great job of bringing out the vividness of Judy's pink jacket while making skin tones look utterly realistic.
What's more, the detail level is high, edges are bleed-free and block noise never oversteps the mark. And with such a sensitive tuner on board, we never had any trouble with the signal dropping out or freezing, even during the sort of nasty weather that has been known to affect below-par Freeview receivers in the past.
Sound quality is clear and audible though SCART and the digital audio outputs, but without any Dolby Digital broadcasts available we didn't get to hear all of the unit's sonic capabilities.
It's not the most robustly built Freeview receiver around and a few more sockets wouldn't have gone amiss, but it does all the basics brilliantly, with slick digital TV functionality and top-notch picture quality. It also throws some useful features into the mix, such as automatic channel updating, S-video from both SCARTs and the Pulse Killer Chip, all of which makes this a great-value entrée into the world of digital TV.
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