Features and Operation

By Danny Phillips

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

6

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).

Dion VSTBAW10

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.

Dion VSTBAW10

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.

Dion VSTBAW10

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.

Dion VSTBAW10

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.

Jmac

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.

AJ34

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.

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