Product Type: Goodmans set top boxes
Newest Review: ... sheet of paper and silver. It sits about 2 inches tall and nestled happily just below my tv. Across the front of the device you won't fin... more
Cheap and fairly solid
Member Name: Swarfega
Advantages: Cheap, easy to set up, comes complete with appropriate cables and also batteries.
Disadvantages: Sound drops out and EPG could be better.
This is a model that is no longer produced but as they are still in operation and being sold second hand, I thought I'd type a few words about my experiences.
I moved into a new flat, not wanting to shell out for Sky or cable tv but also wanting to have more than the standard five analogue channels. So the option was to buy a freeview set top box as my tv at the time was a rather elderly CRT type without the fancy inbult freeview tuner.
I knew I was trying to be frugal so I knew I didn't want a totally all signing all dancing model. I didn't need recording facilities etc. And I wasn't all that precious about massively crystal clear picture quality and all that. Just so long as it worked and got freeview. I bought mine for approximately £25 at the time (maybe 4 years ago), which wasn't the cheapest but I did decide there was a line to be drawn. Sometimes buying cheap is buying twice.
Upon opening the box and taking out the contents you'll notice that it's got all you'll need. So no extra shopping trips to get batteries for the remote control or a scart lead. It also comes with the rf cable (co-ax) required to get your aerial signal from your roof to the box.
To look at it's fairly non-descript, which is good as I didn't want anything flashy. From above it's about the size of an A4 sheet of paper and silver. It sits about 2 inches tall and nestled happily just below my tv. Across the front of the device you won't find very much at all. Simply a central led light telling you when it's on standby (red) and when it's on (green).
So, to the set-up. Really, nothing could be much easier. Simply plug the machine into the mains and connect it to the tv using the supplied scart cable and also the aforementioned co-ax cable needs to connect your aerial input (usually in the corner of the room next to the tv) to the set-top box. Now, you're good to go.
As you're now getting a digital signal rather than analogue, unless your tv automatically senses this new input you'll more than likely have to find the appropriate 'source'. Your tv remote will have a button on it saying 'source' or 'av'. Push it until you get the appropriate channel. Now simply locate the 'menu' button on the remote control and it will give you a list of options. Find 'first-time installation' and it will go through all the channels it can find (at the last count including radio stations and whatnot, there's over 100 on freeview). It will depend on how good your signal strength is but I know my local signal is atrocious, but it still managed to pick up all channels. So I know the tuner is sensitive, which is great in such a cheap model.
As I said, this model is cheap. Not the cheapest, but one shouldn't be hoping for anything too special in the features department. The remote control itself is small and basic with rubber buttons and aside from the buttons you'd normally be expecting to find on a remote (numbers, volume, programme up and down etc), you also get a 'subtitle' button which fairly obviously turns on subtitles, should the programme you're watching support that. It also has a 'back' button, which I took to assume was the advertised 'previous channel' function - however either I was using it wrongly or it just didn't work.
The EPG (electronic programme guide) is ok, but not great. It does the basics is the best thing to say. I did however use the 'reminder' feature fairly often - find sometihng a few hours ahead you want to watch, press 'reminder' and it will turn over to that channel at the appropriate time. However don't try and be clever and set up some reminders for a few days hence, it won't work. Yes you can use the 7-day EPG to see what's on during the week, and yes it will allow you to set a reminder for that episode of Poirot you wanted to catch - but for whatever reason it forgets them. It may be over night or when you put the box into standby - either way, those reminders don't remain.
Another gripe and one which used to wind me up no end (however clearly not enough to bin it as I used this box for a good 3 years) is the fact that every so often the sound drops out for a second. Personally I wouldn't have said that would be that much of an issue, but seriously, it happens with surprising regularity when you least want it (or perhaps you only notice it when it happens at the worst moment). I lost track of the number of times I turned the air blue after the sound dropped out just as the punchline of a joke was being delivered. The frequency at which this happened changed but I'd say it probably happened once an hour on average. So yes, that's negative point against the box.
One more negative issue (although one which is less of an irritation and easier to fix than the last one) is that the sound will lag after a while. If you've been watching the same channel for a bit (and I mean several hours), gradually the sound will lag behind the picture. However, this is easily remedied by flicking the channel up and back down again and it's all reset.
Over all, it served me well. It was cheap and had a better freeview tuner than my current all singing all dancing tv does. Aside from the sound dropping out, causing me to swear at the tv occasionally, I liked this little box.
Recommended? Yes if it's for a back room or bedroom perhaps, and it's free or very cheap. But other than that, no. There are plenty of other options out there nowadays.
Summary: Cheap and fairly solid, but there are other, better options out there.
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