Both boxes take a couple of minutes to tune in the TV and radio channels and day-to-day operation is generally free from frustration. Hit the Menu button on the Sharp TU-T2’s compact remote and you get a bold, attractive main menu with icons and a striking blue-background. It thoughtfully continues to play live TV in a small box next to the setup menu, which is logically laid out with large, crisp text, while the box skips through the options without delay.
The Icecrypt T2200’s 32-bit HD onscreen menus take a different approach but they’re no less attractive. The main menu is superimposed over live TV, so you can still make out what’s going on, and a row of icons is placed across the middle of the screen. Again, it responds instantly to remote commands and all of the menus have a pleasing linearity about them.
As for EPGs, the Icecrypt T2200’s eight-day guide is the better of the two. Its programme grid contains seven channels at a time and fills most of the screen, whereas the Sharp TU-T2 shows eight channels but squashes them up into a smaller box, making the programme names harder to read. On the plus side, Sharp’s EPG displays the programme synopsis at the top of the screen, but the Icecrypt makes you press the ‘i’ button. If you prefer your listings a little more vertical, the T2200’s EPG offers an alternative view where the channels are listed in columns.
Disappointingly, the onscreen banners on both receivers limit you to now and next programme information – if you want to look up programmes later in the day, you have to enter the full EPG. You can, however, check now/next details of programmes on any channel, and on both receivers the banner graphics are beautifully presented and provide a helpful range of details.
For our money, the Icecrypt T2200’s system is marginally slicker and more attractive, but neither interface has any obvious flaws. There is, however, a greater chasm in the quality of remotes. Sharp’s zapper is about three-quarters the size of Icecrypt’s and therefore more ergonomic, plus its conveniently-placed, clearly-labelled buttons make it much more intuitive.
Aside from its gloss-black finish, the Icecrypt T2200’s remote is poor. Most of the buttons rely on cryptic icons instead of words, the volume and programme change keys are awkwardly placed and the cluster of buttons at the bottom are too fiddly.
When it comes to features, the Icecrypt T2200 starts to pull away from its Japanese rival. The standout one is digital media playback via the USB port, with a long list of supported formats that includes MKV and M2TS files as well as DivX, AVI and MP3. As mentioned, no such multimedia playback is available on the Sharp TU-T2.
Additionally, Icecrypt says that a future software update will allow you to record Freeview HD and SD programmes onto an external hard-disk drive, turning the T2200 into a PVR. This, combined with the CI slots and Ethernet port, makes the T2200 truly future-proofed.
Otherwise, the two receivers have many features in common. Both are compatible with Dolby Digital Plus, Audio Description, MHEG services and digital text. Also, both offer a choice of 576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p output from the HDMI port, although they lack an ‘Auto’ mode that outputs programmes in their native resolution – everything is output in the selected format. Therefore with both boxes we recommend leaving them set to 1080i or 1080p so you automatically get the benefit of hi-def content and upscaled SD.