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Customer Review

155 of 159 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cheap, cheerful but very good, 27 Dec. 2010
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This review is from: Scart Freeview, Digital HD TV Receiver Recorder Tuner Set Top Box, USB Memory Recorder, Hinged for LCD TVs by Digi-fun (Electronics)
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.
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Showing 21-30 of 38 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2012 16:07:32 GMT
John Ryan says:
Hello,

Thanks for the thorough review. Apologies if you've already answered this question in some form...

I have a HDD recorder which only has an analog tuner; it still works really well so I don't want to replace it just because we're losing the analog signal. I'm wondering if I can attach this device to the SCART input and program it just to change channel at the right time, whilst setting my HDD recorder to record from the SCART input at the same time. Hope my question makes sense, and thanks in advance for any answers.

P.S. I e-mailed Digi Fun and they said it won't do what I want it to, but I then read your review which makes me think it might. Worth an ask.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2012 22:04:15 GMT
Last edited by the author on 30 Jan 2012 22:14:48 GMT
Alvis says:
Hi John,

Thanks for your comments, they are most appreciated.
On your query, I think it should. Infact there are two modes. One using directly the data from the EPG, and the other to programme any date of the calendar, even if the EPG does not cover that time yet.

I refer here to the new module. Among the rest of the recording data, the timer programming schedule allows you to choose two modes for the "TIMER MODE" field, namely <TIMER> or <RECORDING>. In your case you must use the former.
I describe the sequences in details:

Method 1. (Programming on any date and time of the calendar)
Press the "MENU" button on the remote. Scroll and select "ADVANCED TIMER" on the screen. You will enter a list of 10 entries. Scroll and choose a free one and press the RED button to add a new entry. A new screen will appears and allows you to manually programme various field namely: the input channel, the start date, the start time, the end time, the "MODE" and the "TIMER MODE". Select <ONCE> in the "MODE" field and (very importantly) choose <TIMER> in the "TIMER MODE" field rather than its other option <RECORDING>.
Switch then the unit off. The unit will turn ON automatically and select the "CHANNEL" you programmed, on the "DATE" and "START TIME" you programmed and (presumably) it will switch off at the "STOP TIME" you set. I tried this by setting a start time just a couple of minutes ahead my test time. The unit did turn ON on the right channel. I did not wait for the turn OFF time, but switched off the unit instead. The unit correctly asked whether I wanted to overrun the programme. By saying YES the unit turned OFF and cleared the timer registry.
Clearly if you also programme the same dates and times onto your HDD and its channel input option to match the SCART port used for the DVB-T on your HDD, then you should be able to record on the HDD.

Method 2 (Directly using the EPG)
With the unit ON press the button "EPG". Scroll until you select the programme of choice. Press the "RED" button to book the entry in the first free registry of the timer. The same screen mentioned before appears, but this time you just have to make sure the "TIMER MODE" is set to <TIMER> and not <RECORDING> just as before.

I hope it helps.

All the best

Alvis

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jan 2012 10:17:56 GMT
John Ryan says:
Hello Alvis,

Thanks for your prompt and helpful reply. I've ordered one and will post a review when I've got it working.

John

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jan 2012 22:51:22 GMT
Hi John. What type of PVR do you have? If it does record from a scart input (like the old tape machines) what Alvis says is correct. My PVR records only modulated signals down the aerial, it cannot record anything else. I'd be interested to know if you get it all working. I record using the unit and an old hard drive, it wroks well.

Chris

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Feb 2012 09:31:29 GMT
John Ryan says:
Hello Chris,

It's a Sony RDR-HX710, bought in early 2006. I'm half kicking myself that I didn't cough up for a model with a digital tuner but it was wasn't really on my radar then - we only got a Freeview TV a year ago ! It has a SCART input for a decoder, which the manual claims can be used as a recording input, so I'm expecting it to work. We'll see...

John

Posted on 17 Feb 2012 14:34:25 GMT
John Ryan says:
Hello Chris and Alvis,

I've been using it for about two weeks now with pretty decent success. The instructions Alvis provided were very helpful and I found it pretty straightforward to use anyway. It's been working exactly as I'd hoped, but...on a small minority of recordings the video and audio are slightly out of sync, which is baffling me (and irritating my wife !). I've looked for a pattern and it seems that the problem ones are live BBC shows, e.g. "Newsround", "The Football League Show". Perhaps live other channels would also be a problem, I just haven't thought to try yet. It's not a massive delay, well under half a second, but it's surprisingly distracting. Recordings of other, non-live, shows seem fine, a selection of BBC and channels 3 and 4. I do think it's the new receiver that's causing the problem, rather than my TV or recorder: I've used the new receiver to watch live broadcasts actually live, so to speak, and the delay is also present then, but if I switch from the new receiver to the built-in digital tuner on the TV, the sync is fine. I haven't got used to the idea of recording the other digital channels yet so perhaps there may be problems on other channels too. It's hardly a disaster - perfectly good until I've saved up for an HD PVR - just wondered if anyone else had experienced the same problem.

Thanks again
John

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Feb 2012 22:03:31 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Feb 2012 00:17:42 GMT
Alvis says:
Hi John,

Nice to know that things work, but I am puzzled by the out of sync audio issue. I never experienced this and it should not happen. That said, I am a little less puzzled by the occurrence of this for live programmes.

In SD digital broadcast there are some web reports of PCs with TV card DVB-T tuners experiencing off sync audio in case of live broadcast with AC3 (dolby digital channels). However this is usually because of the multitude of filter settings, operations, possible mismatch on the PC card and the combinations of the PCs running Windows operating systems and often overloaded.

This unit should not be affected by that though, and certainly I never noticed any issue. This is a decoding issue and assuming that you have the correct country settings and a decent signal then it should not happen.

First make sure that the settings are correct. In particular make sure that the country selection is for "England" in the TV installation menu. It is worth checking this, even if it should be done automatically by the auto-setup process.

Then check your signal by pressing twice the <INFO> button while on the specific TV channel and then the <EXIT> button to go back to the normal view. If the signal is low try to set the antenna to "ON". You can do this browsing the installation menu.

A final test, try to connect the DVB-T directly to the TV set using a SCART port that you know has previously worked well. If you still experience the same issue (with a decent signal and the correct country settings), then you may have a faulty DVB-T unit.

All the best

Alvis

Posted on 22 Jun 2012 17:30:45 BDT
M. Jung says:
You're a very good reviewer and would like to thank you for the input, as I'm considering buying this product. There are good reviews but yours is very intense and welcome - thanks again.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jun 2012 11:29:40 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Jun 2012 11:31:44 BDT
John Ryan says:
Thought it might be worth adding something as I've now had this for six months.

Still working well, and the problem with the out-of-sync audio seems to have lessened so that it's now not a distraction (I don't think that I've just got used to it). Signal strength is very good so not caused by that; I'd already decided that it was infrequent enough that I didn't think it was worth returning it, and perhaps the digital retune in London has helped ?

Also, it completely stopped displaying a picture a couple of weeks ago, in spite of the LEDs on the power supply and remote sensor both being lit. I contacted the seller, DIGI FUN, and they sent a replacement power supply which arrived the next day and solved the problem - excellent service.

So, still a very cheap and effective solution to the problem of having a decent recorder, just with no digital tuner. Very pleased with it.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jul 2012 09:46:24 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Jul 2012 09:53:25 BDT
Alvis says:
Dear M. Jung,

Many thanks for your kind words and sorry for my late reply. I do this for fun and not always check the post.

All the best and thanks again

Alvis