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With digital switchover set to begin in 2008 I thought now would be a good time to get freeview. For just under £30, the Philips DTR-320 was a bargain when I purchased it. Though the design won't turn many heads, it's far from ugly and small enough to fit neatly on top of most TV sets, (unless you have a flat screen!). The box contains a receiver, power supply, scart lead, rf cable, remote control, with 2 x AA batteries and a manual. The instructions are simple to follow, with pictures on every page, however it's easy to figure out the controls without having to refer to the manual. Installing channels for the first time is tedious work, but adding new channels is much quicker.
Menus are easy to navigate through and it's really simple to find what you're looking for. Whenever you access a channel a translucent box appears at the top of the screen, which gives a host of information about the channel, current/next programme and times. The device is rich in features, however not all of them are as effective as I would have hoped. The Pulse Killer chip, for example, is supposed to maintain a stable picture when there is interference from things like home appliances, cars or most annoyingly, mopeds! It didn't make any difference on my TV, but this is probably because I've got quite a poor signal and the chip doesn't completely eliminate interference. When the picture isn't being interrupted its produces a really crisp image with good quality sound.
Even though the Pulse Killer is disappointing, all of the other features work perfectly. Fast Zapp enables channel hopping in lightning speeds and the 7 day electronic programme guide is simple to use, if a little bit sluggish at times. Connectivity wise, the back of the box is crammed full of sockets. Quite what the LAN is supposed to be used for on a set-top box I don't know, but you can link your VCR/DVD up to the spare scart to record TV and if you have the right cables you could connect speakers too. The included remote control is very responsive and contains an array of buttons; switching to radio mode or analogue takes one push, however changing the screen size means you have to trawl through the menu, which is both annoying and time consuming.
It's hard to ignore the amount of negative reviews that surround the DTR-320. I only ran into a couple of problems with the box but I did connect it to a Philips TV, so it's difficult to know how the device would perform with different brand television sets. Based on my experience with the product, I would recommend it to potential buyers who are looking for a straight forward and cheap set-top box, without Top Up TV compatibility