Picture quality is excellent, particularly BBC HD’s coverage of Wimbledon. In the 1080i setting, the box picks up all of the delicate detail on the grass court and you can make out the faces of people in the crowd, with hardly a trace of noise to spoil the show – exactly the sort of qualities that you look for from hi-def. ITV HD’s football coverage is equally dazzling, making the SD equivalent look like a blurry mess – proof that once you’ve seen hi-def in action, it really is hard to go back.
Standard-definition channels in 576p look pretty good too, but we’re even more impressed by how good they look when upscaled to 720p and 1080i. Edge definition on channels like BBC Two is clean and smooth, plus colours are vibrant and the sharpness of fine detail also appears more focused than 576p. There’s no escaping the customary MPEG block noise and shimmering during camera movements but on the whole there can be few complaints.
If your TV doesn’t have an HDMI input then it’s bad news we’re afraid. The composite picture quality offered by the SCART output is soft and noisy, plus colours appear washed out, which makes general TV viewing less than enjoyable – and recordings on external machines will sadly suffer the same fate.
Sound quality is fine however, particularly if you rig up the optical digital output to a decent receiver. Speech is clean and intelligible, while loud movie scores are capably handled, particularly with Pro Logic II processing engaged. What’s more, the Dolby Digital sound that accompanies BBC HD’s Euro 2008 coverage is excellent, engulfing the listener in atmospheric crowd noise without any drop outs or distortion.
Goodmans’ debut Freesat HD receiver is slick, easy to use and a good performer, but despite this we’d still recommend opting for the similarly-priced Humax FOXSAT-HD, which boasts a far superior operating system and more features, including RGB from the SCART socket and manual channel tuning.
Score in detail
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