Features and Operation

By Danny Phillips



Our Score:


Elsewhere, the box supports subtitles and digital text, and you can group channels into favourites. There’s also a 7-day EPG and a timer. Switch the box on for the first time and you launch straight into the setup menu. This gives you the chance to tune the TV and radio channels, a task that it carries out very quickly indeed. The main menu is as rudimentary as it gets, but that’s only to be expected at this price. It uses two shades of blue with thin white text, plus a diagram-like layout that’s quite easy to follow but bizarre to look at. To its credit though it plays live TV in a box. There are three options – Channels, Install and Settings. The Channels section lets you organise your channels into the order of your choosing using a straightforward list and a series of numbered commands (add to favourites, lock, skip, delete rename). You can also sort channels into four different coloured groups, which is a nice little feature.

In the settings menu, you can change languages, parental PIN and time info, but the key area is ‘TV’. Here you can alter the brightness and contrast (quite unusual for a Freeview receiver), change the aspect ratio and switch between composite and RGB video output from the Scart. There’s also an auto standby mode (between 3 and 12 hours).


The EPG shares the setup menu’s basic blue-tone design and similarly plays live TV in a box at the top of the screen. This is not EPG design at its finest though – the programme grid is tiny, showing just five channels at a time, and few of the programme names actually fit into the boxes. Hit ‘I’ and the synopsis appears, plus you can zip ahead or back 24 hours using the green and red keys, or programme the box to turn to a channel at a certain time – useful if you’re got it rigged up to an external recorder.


The onscreen information banners are fine, giving the programme synopsis, date, time and whether or not there are subtitles. The box only shows now and next information, for anything beyond the next programme you’ll need to enter the full EPG.


In general it won’t take long to get the hang of using this Freeview receiver, as it’s responsive and simple to use, but it’s a shame the basic looking menus betray its budget price tag so badly.


Despite its small buttons and even smaller labelling, the compact remote is surprisingly intuitive. That’s because the menu controls are perfectly placed under the thumb and they’re surrounded by the important Menu, Guide and ‘i’ buttons. It’s main crime is that the ‘Back’ button isn’t directly next to the multi-directional pad. The white finish is also slightly suspect.


July 6, 2011, 5:22 pm

Please take this as a constructive criticism rather than a complaint: I'm happy to skim or skip reviews that I don't find interesting, but it seems a bit incongruous with the flavour of this site for you to be reviewing a bargain basement set top box which has got some sort of glorified Teletext thing bolted on. If it wasn't for "Channel Zero" (which to me seems a worthless feature) I doubt you'd have reviewed this. Is it your view that Channel Zero is a sufficiently interesting addition to merit reviewing a product that you'd otherwise have ignored?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the box - it has its place in opening up Freeview access to less well off people who have an old TV and are yet to make the leap to digital, but (and I accept I may be wrong here) I don't expect you have more than a handful of readers who fit that demographic.


August 11, 2011, 3:47 am

Thanks for this review. I'll purchase one (or something very similar) to use with my old DVD/PVR box as a stop gap until the tech I really want improves a bit and, possibly, drops in price.

K Wojtak

April 19, 2015, 9:13 pm

I bought a Dion Trove recorder (DTR500SS11) as it had a lot of recording capacity and was a reasonable price. It is probably the worst piece of electronic kit I have every purchased. Frequently the box will completely hang mid-operation. The only way out is to power on-off and then it declares it has a hardware fault and requires a complete reformat. Despite 2 complete reformats the errors just keep on reoccurring. During recording you may as well forget trying to use it to see other recorded programs as is suddenly stops responding to the remote. So a fast forward will carry on forwarding to the end. Save your money and get something better.

John H

July 28, 2016, 9:29 am

I read this review with interest.

My 50"Samsung TV, sound bar and Sky 2TB Box are in the Yellow Box storage. I have an old LG TV which was mounted on a wall bracket in the kitchen about ten years ago and has been in a plastic box ever since.

I tried to tune the TV in my temporary flat. Plugged it into the aerial socket and tried auto tune, fine tune and manual tune. Nothing but fuzz and snow although I did pick up the security cameras.

I bought an indoor aerial. Still nothing.

Read this review. Returned the aerial and bought this cheap as chips box.

Used the same aerial cable. Plugged it into the Dion. SCART into TV. Power cable in.

Bang. It autotuned itself immediately and I was watching the news within two minutes of unpacking it.

Not sure the picture quality is the best although that might be the old TV.

I bought this as an experiment as I assumed the tuner on the TV was knackered. My only regret now that the experiment was positive is that I didn't buy a more expensive device, something I may well do now I know I can get Freeview here.

Getting DAB radio is a bonus (although I cannot get Planet Rock).

I will explore Channel Zero for the sake of it but it holds no major interest to me.

This was £15 well spent.

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