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.