Most helpful positive review
144 of 148 people found the following review helpful
Cheap, cheerful but very good
on 27 December 2010
This is an extremely good solution for the price. My application was to provide digital channels to a secondary DVD/VCR combined recorder, which is capable of upscaling to 1080i signals but lacks a digital receiver. This little unit not only revitalised it with the minimum of externally added cable, but also added a decent PVR for very little money. In fairness I wasn't expecting much. Instead I found the DVB-T reception and picture quality to be excellent with very good stereo audio, delivered however at a lowish maximum level. The unit also works well with digital radio channels and can play Mp3, Jpeg and Mpeg files from either its SD card slot or its USB port. Notice that it can ONLY record using the latter. video recording quality is excellent. It records in MPEG-2 at ~14-15 MB/min for programmes broadcasted in 544x576 format or approximately ~26-27 MB/min for the 720x576 format (still nearly 5 hours using an 8 GB USB pen). Adding an external self-powered HDD would result in a PVR of very considerable capacity. However notice that the unit only records on FAT32 formatted drives and the USB DC current output may be insufficient to power some portable HDD. It couldn't with mine, but the unit worked very well with the USB pen and also with an externally powered HD. You may need to reformat it, which can be done by the unit itself in a few seconds using the remote control (press MENU and select Partition/Format). Obviously you will loose all data present on the HD. The reformatted unit can be seen normally by Windows, Linux and Apple PC. For the latter however notice that the default media player (QuickTime Player) does not decode MPEG-2, unless a separate codec is purchased for a small fee. A good idea is to reuse a small capacity cheap or old HD SATA drive for/from a laptop, inserting it in a cheap enclosure that allows for external power feeding. One such unit is made by IOMAX, which allows external power feeding using a standard USB power supply.
Also notice that the arial bypass is active: arial signal is blocked when the unit is switched OFF. I struggled a bit with the arial connector, but I believe this to be more an issue of my old connector than a fault of the unit. As noticed elsewhere, the user manual is not the best of its kind, but I still found some information concise and useful. The GUI instead is more than adeguate in my view. The EPG function is a bit slow to gather data but is actually very complete, once the coloured buttons on the remote control are used properly. These set the daily or weekly EPG views and allow access to more detailed information on each TV programme. The video recording can be operated either in real time and very simply, using the dedicated "RECORD" and "STOP" buttons on the remote, or it can be programmed. This action is perhaps a bit less intuitive, but it is actually very simple. The unit has a general purpose timer that can be programmed for up to 8 entries in order to store actions of different kind, which also include the option for the TV channels time-programmed recording. For this, the best way to proceed is simply to set the EPG in daily view (the default mode), then to highlight the desired TV programme and press the blue button using the remote control. This automatically transfers all the relavant channel information to the timer, leaving only to select the correct RECORDING option (instead of another action such as "TURN ON" for example) and finally to store the programme into an empty entry of the timer register (numbered from 1 to 8). Notice that this procedure seems to work only when the EPG is set in its daily view. I found this the only oddity of this simple unit, but for this price there cannot be complaints... I did not try the teletext functions, since I usually access it from the TV set.
ADDENDUM. On the 8th December (about one year after my purchase) the unit stopped responding to the remote control. I contacted DigiFun who have been extremely helpful. I returned both unit and remote which were replaced immediately with a new set and the technical support was excellent. The new unit has a different SW and a better manual (still not the best of its kind but OK). Overall the new unit operation is more intuitive and easier to use. The programmed recording sequences I indicate in this review does not apply to the newer units and I left them only for people who have the old set. The recording from the EPG menu is now more intuitive only requiring to highlight the programme and to press the red button which is labelled "Book". Final confirmation is then easily done following the on screen instructions. HOWEVER the set can be dispatched with a different remote which lacks the Rec and Stop buttons. Having noticed this I contacted again DigiFun who again were very helpful. They dispatched immediately another old type remote which works absolutely fine. They also told me that they are dealing on this issue with their supplier. All in all I do not feel the need to derate the product from its 5 stars as it is actually better still (but only with the right remote) and faults can happen. But having had the chance to deal with after sale support, I can only praise DigiFun for the excellent service.