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The Goodmans GDB9 Digital Set Top Box is yet another example of "you get what you pay for". I purchased this freeview box for £25 a matter of months ago from a Supermarket, of which I had nothing but problems since.
All I wanted was a set top freeview to stick in the bedroom so I could watch TV in bed on a sunday morning. The last thing I wanted was the hassle of having to retune this every time I wanted to watch TV, yet only returning up to 10 channels.
The first month of owning the product, I was satisfied. The TV guide had a good feature of allowing you to continue to watch the TV program in the top corner of the guide whilst you were able to check what was on later (something our more expensive sony doesn't do).
The look and design was pretty neat, though it certainly felt very 'plastic', yet I only paid £25 so it was all good. T remote was very easy to use and looked pretty neat too.
After the first month of ownership, I started experiencing a couple of issue with channels dissapearing. I would need to re tune the set, which usually solved this issue. This became more and more frequent (daily) and eventually, the search results were only coming back with a few channels.
I switched the unit with my Sony freeview box from the lounge which worked 100% fine, though the Goodmans still didn't pick up the missing channels when moved to the lounge, this must have been a the set top box fault.
I returned the product, asked for an exchange and within a few weeks the same issues happened. I eventually returned the product and asked for a refund.
This wasn't a great experience, maybe I was part of a fault batch, who knows?
As you will have gathered by now, much of my focus recently has been on the subject of Freeview, free-to-air TV. Isn't it good of me to research all these different boxes for you so that you don't have to end up buying a dud?
We have a number of TVs in the house and so, if we are to benefit from the huge range of TV and Radio channels that are now available by digital broadcast, each needs to have its own digital set-top box. I've tried a few now and as my reviews have indicated, I've come across a few real bummers. One thing has astounded me; the overall quality of manufacture of these devices, and I'm not pointing at any particular manufacturer, is simply appalling. It's clear that Quality Control goes out the window in the pursuit of cheap prices.
On this occasion it was for the TV in the master bedroom that I needed a box. I had already had one, a Bush DFTA11, which had proved to be yet another lemon and which I had taken back to Currys to be replaced. It turned out that Currys had no more and so I couldn't try another in order to see if the problem was simply with this example or with the model in general. In fact, ALBA (who own the Bush brand) are not making any more of this model anyway; just as well really.
I picked the Goodmans GDB9 as a replacement as it was the same price (just under £30) as the Bush and seemed to offer the same facilities. I could have taken a refund and looked elsewhere; Currys did offer. Actually, I'm quite impressed with Currys. I have always had good customer service from them, even if some of the products they sell are ****.
The GDB9 is much like most other set-top Freeview boxes. It has dual SCART sockets so can be used to connect, for instance, a DVD player to the TV with a single SCART lead, which is useful if your TV has only one SCART socket. There is also a standard RCA coax socket for connecting the GDB9 to a digital surround sound system. As with most of these boxes there is an aerial connection socket and a loop-through so that the aerial signal can be continued on, for instance, to a video recorder.
Unusually for these devices, the package comes complete with not only a single SCART lead but also an additional aerial coax lead for continuing on the broadcast signal to another device or to the TV's aerial socket. However, considering the price, leaving these out would really have been short-changing the customers.
Plugging in the GDB9 up for the first time, the first thing you notice is the large glowing orange light right in the middle of the front of the box. If you are planning to use the GDB9 in a bedroom then this could be quite annoying. The light is actually a ring that surrounds the On/Standby button. The light changes to red on standby but is no less intrusive. On either side of this button are channel selector button. This makes the GDB9 unusual in that some of the functions can be controlled without the remote control. This is only important of the remote is lost or the batteries have run out.
The first time initialisation process takes you into the usual procedure for identifying all of the available channels. First it asks you what format screen you want, 16:9 or 4:3. Then it asks you to confirm that it should start scanning for TV and radio channels. This may take a minute or two.
Once all of the channels have been identified you can then go and set up your list of Favourites and so eliminate all those channels you will never watch. This list can be accessed with a dedicated FAV button on the remote control. Up to five different Favourites lists can be set up. Otherwise, you access all of the available channels through the Electronic Programme Guide by pressing the EPG button or via the Channel List from the MENU button. You can also simply change channels with dedicated Channel Up/Down buttons on the remote.
When selecting via the EPG you can also set a reminder for a future programme. However, when scanning through the channels to see what's on, unlike some other set-top boxes, the current programme that you see and hear in the preview changes immediately. I must admit I would rather have it continue playing the existing channel and only change to the selected one when a definite choice is made.
And that's about it really. The box produces a good picture and sound and there's really not much more you can say about it, with one major exception. The box has *no* volume control. This I find astounding. I've never before come across a digital set-top box that doesn't have a volume control. The drawback is that you still need to use two remote controls, one for the set-top box functions and the normal TV remote for the volume. Unbelievable! Had I realised this before I bought it I wouldn't have selected it.
So, a very average digital set-top box that, at the price, has the only redeeming feature that it actually worked first time and has continued to work since. That, in itself, is something of a first.
It's not enough for me to recommend it though.