There are several ways to get Freeview HD, including integrated TVs, Blu-ray recorders and PVRs, but the cheapest and simplest way is to buy a receiver. The first wave of Freeview HD receivers includes models from big names like Sharp, Pace and Humax but here we’re checking out a couple of lower-profile boxes from Goodmans (the GDB300HD) and French brand Metronic (the T2 HD Zapbox) – and to make things more interesting we’ve pitched them against each other to discover which one deserves your cash the most.
At first glance, the Goodmans is by far the most appealing receiver to look at, with a curvier shape and more alluring front-panel detail. For example, the silver ring in the centre that frames a cluster of blue lights is much classier than the Metronic’s row of garish red LEDs, while the Goodmans’ glossier black finish gives it a more contemporary edge.
Pick them up, however, and you’ll discover that the Metronic’s build quality is superior. The Goodmans is light as a feather and housed in a plasticky casing that bends inwards when pressed, while the Metronic is made of more robust materials. It’s a lot slimmer too, and although the Metronic’s display panel looks naff, at least it shows you the current channel number – with the Goodmans you have to rely on the onscreen displays. The Metronic also offers front panel channel buttons, which might also come in handy.
Goodmans is the clear victor in the battle of the remotes. Its soft squashy buttons are laid out in a simple, intuitive way, with a comfortably placed D-pad in the centre. Metronic’s on the other hand sports a weird arched shape that might look good on the coffee table but feels awkward in the hand, while its clicky buttons are hit and miss. Also annoying is the placement of the ‘OK’ button below the D-pad rather than in the centre, plus the volume and programme change keys are too low.