Setting up the wireless receiver is fairly easy – the special functions menu lets you search for access points and shows you the signal strength of each one. Your encryption key is entered using a responsive virtual keyboard. It took no time at all to connect to our router and the connection remained stable throughout the test.
After switching the receiver on for the first time, you get a polite welcome screen, which then checks that you have a satellite cable connected, checks for software updates and runs through all the vital settings like AV output type and aspect ratio. After you’ve entered your postcode it searches for all the channels on the Eurobird-Astra satellites – it found 116 TV and 37 radio channels in seconds.
Although the HDFS is primarily designed to pick up Freesat channels, the Technisat mode allows you to add hundreds of channels not found in the Freesat EPG, while DiSEqC 1.2 functionality with motor control allows for multi-satellite reception, which will appeal to more advanced users. The extra channels can be sorted out using various channel lists and an EPG.
The Technisat EPG is unusually flexible – programmes can be viewed in a grid, by genre or as a ‘now and next’ overview, all the options are listed in the Guide menu. It’s a little confusing at first, but after a while you start to appreciate the cleverness of its design.
The Freesat EPG looks slightly different due to its black background, and unlike the Technisat EPG live TV doesn’t play underneath. But it offers a similarly generous range of views and search options, and it’s a joy to operate – you can choose browse programmes later in the week using the numbered or coloured keys on the remote, and everything on the screen is clearly labelled.
If you don’t fancy delving into the full EPG, hit ‘i’ while watching a programme and an onscreen banner not only gives thorough details of the current programme (including eye-catching icons), but also lets you look ahead in the schedules and access programme info on any channel.
The rest of the onscreen design is superb. It takes a modern approach with jazzy fonts and subtle colours, but its inherent simplicity is why it works so well. The channel lists and setup menus are clear and helpful – the Nav menu, for instance, provides direct access to any function, including multimedia content, while a separate menu offers speedy access to regional channel variations, subtitles and audio description. There’s even a Help menu that offers handy pointers.
And kudos to the remote too, which boasts big spongy buttons, good labelling and a generally intuitive layout. The only criticism is that the ‘back’ button isn’t directly next to the menu controls. All in all, this really is one of the most user-friendly digital TV receivers we’ve ever encountered, despite also being one of the most advanced.