We nipped out into the garden (in the middle of rural Devon) and tried tuning the Freeview channels using the portable aerial but were unable to find any channels whatsoever. To be fair, the entire accompanying bumph makes it clear that you need a very strong Freeview signal to have any success, but it was disappointing as the coverage is usually very good.
So we trudged back into the house and plugged in the rooftop aerial, and instantly found every channel available. Sadly, the tuner doesn’t store them in order and you have to flick through every channel in order to get to the one you want, which is extremely tedious. But the unit’s picture quality is surprisingly good, packed with bright, vivid colours and enough detail to make fine text legible. Block noise is less of an issue than we expected too, making for a very enjoyable watch – although the size of the screen might strain your eyes after watching for a long time.
Playback of video files is very enjoyable, but of course it depends on how well the file is encoded. As for sound quality, the built-in speaker is extremely weedy, but if you’re in a quiet environment it’s just about bearable for speech-based TV programmes.
With its lack of support for Windows Media and DivX, the DTV350C doesn’t cut the mustard as a multimedia player, and its build quality is poor in places. However, the Freeview tuner is a useful feature, providing surprisingly watchable pictures on such a small screen, but elements of the digital TV operating system (particularly the jumbled channel order and the limited EPG) leave a lot to be desired, and for Freeview reception you’re at the mercy of the local signal strength. In its favour, there’s nothing else like it on the market, and if you’re willing to overlook its foibles then the reasonable price tag could make it a cost-effective travel companion if you’re on a tight budget.
Score in detail