The supplied ‘easy grip’ remote is virtually the same size as the receiver, and at first glance you can see why the Government was so keen on it – it’s comfortable to hold, big enough to stop you losing it down the back of the sofa and features well-labelled, widely-spaced buttons. There are dedicated buttons for Audio Description and a help guide that explains how to use the various functions on board, something that will go down very well with digital TV newcomers.
You could almost set up the unit in your sleep. Once the cables are connected, turn on the power and you’re immediately prompted to start the channel tuning process, and pleasingly it found the 51 TV and 25 radio channels very quickly. After that, you can explore the fool-proof main menu that allows you to edit the channel list, set the parental controls, retune channels and check signal strength. Within the settings submenu you’ll find all of the key tweaks, including the ability to change the RF output channel, the aspect ratio and switch the TV SCART output between RGB, S-video and composite.
We can’t fault the rest of the onscreen menu design, which again will go down very well with those using a Freeview box for the first time. The 8-day EPG is wonderfully simple to digest, listing eight channels at a time in the familiar horizontal timeline layout, while the coloured keys on the remote let you skip forward and back 24 hours and scroll up and down the channel list. It also shows the date and time, and continues to play the current channel in the background so you can still follow what’s going on.
Hit Info while watching a programme and up pops an info banner that immediately gives you the synopsis and programme duration. But what impressed us the most is the fact that the display isn’t limited to now and next details – instead, it lets you browse programmes for the next few days on any channel. Searching too far ahead caused our box’s picture to black out for a while, which was slightly concerning but could be peculiar to our sample.