Obviously the easiest way of setting up the system is to pay the £80 installation charge and get the professionals to do it. But if you already own a dish, then the unit is incredibly easy to set up yourself – simply plug in the satellite antenna cable into the LNB input and away you go. When you first boot up the unit, it checks the aspect ratio of your TV and the output resolution then asks you to enter your postcode so that the unit can find the relevant local BBC and ITV regions during the automatic channel search – a task it failed miserably by tuning in ITV Central after entering a Devon postcode, which meant that the ‘local’ news had no relevance. But in its favour, it did tune in the 56 TV and 18 radio channels very quickly.
The unit’s onscreen operating system is fantastic. Designed with full colour, high-resolution graphics, friendly icons and clear text, even the biggest technophobes can make basic changes with no hassle at all. The digital TV displays are similarly clear, particularly the programme information banner (called the ‘i-plate’), which tells you everything you could possibly need to know about the current programme, including the resolution and the presence of Dolby Digital.
This flawless presentation continues with the intuitive 7-day EPG. When you call up the guide, it first displays a screen showing various programme genres, allowing you to narrow your search. The guide itself has a similar horizontal layout to Sky+; you can search by genre or keywords, jump through a week’s worth of programmes using the Quick Navigation mode and reserve programmes. Superb.
The ease of use factor is further boosted by the outstanding remote. All of the buttons are perfectly placed and the frequently used buttons are very easy to find, while the unit’s slick software responds to commands instantly. Channel changing and digital text access are also very fast.