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We used to have normal Sky television, but I kept missing some TV programmes I really wanted to watch so I looked into Sky Plus. Eventually I came to the conclusion Sky Plus would cost to much and I'd be better off getting a Freeview Plus box instead for a simple one off payment instead of the monthly bills like Sky.
I did a little bit of research online to see where I could get the best deal and what sort of box would be best for me.
But online many of the Freeview box's I wanted were out of stock and so on a shopping trip I decided I would just go and buy a Box.
I went into a PC World store which I actually don't visit often and so I was surprised when I found this Sagemcom Freeview + HD Box. It had everything I wanted- It records programmes and you can pause and rewind live TV, without the monthly cost like Sky.
At the time it was on offer and cost me £199, the normal price I think was about £230. Although the price seems to vary alot depending where you shop!
The guy in the shop was very helpful and he got me the last one they had in stock, which I was very glad about as they didn't seem to have many other Freeview box's as good as this one.
I took my new purchase home feeling very proud of myself for some reason and emptied the box which included, the Freeview Box, 1 Power Supply Unit, 1 Remote Control and Batteries, 1 HDMI Lead and The User Manual.
The Freeview Box itself isn't exactly what I'd call attractive, probably a disadvantage from Sky as Sky box's are quite nice, but as it's black in colour it blends in really well on my TV unit and you can't really see it.
It's very much a small rectangular box, no curves or fancy design. But at only 25cms long and approx 5Cms high you don't need any fancy design.
- Set Up -
Getting the Box set up is very easy! I was able to plug it in and set it up by myself with only the help of the users manual which comes in the box. I was very impressed with myself as not only did I have to plug the Freeview Box in but I had to sort all the wires out for the DVD player, Playstation and Wii. So believe me when I say it's easy to install and figure out where to plug the wires in etc.
The Freeview Box only comes with a HDMI cable which gets you HD television so you may find yourself needing to purchase a few extra cables if you do not already have them. The extra cables you may need is if you have a hi-fi unit and home theatre system which you wish to connect to your Freeview Box.
And make sure you have SCART leads for connecting your DVD player and such gadgets, as again these are not included with the Freeview Box.
Once you're all wired up you have to do the setup procedure, this is easy and you just follow the clear guidelines in the user manual. This just goes through things like Language, Country, Parental Codes and then it will do a channel search to pick up Television channels and radio stations.
Once I had got it up and running in around 10-15 minutes I had a little play to see how good this Freeview Box was!
As I have said the main reason for me purchasing this was so I could record programmes I would miss so straight away I went to check out the recording process.
When I had found the programme I was looking for I pressed the little red record button on the bottom of the Sagemcom remote control which comes with the Freeview Box. A notice came up on the screen telling me that the programme I wanted to record was part of a series and if I would like to record it as a series.
I clicked the yes button. This means that when this programme comes on, the Freeview Box will automatically record it!
You can also record one off programmes or if you want to record just one episode of a series you can, you just press 'no' if you don't want to record the whole series.
This Freeview Box allows you to record one programme and watch another live or you can recored two programmes at once.
And you are also able to watch a programme you have paused while recording another programme or watch a recorded programme and record one or two other programmes. (I hope that makes sense!)
The Freeview Box can hold up to 180 hours of recordings and you can record normal channels or in HD.
The series I currently have on automatic record I have also secured so they are on lock and nobody can delete them unless they know the code. This is a nice feature as I know someone would accidentally delete it. As they are secured they go into a separate folder compared with other programmes which I have recorded.
- Other Features -
Now onto the other features.
The electronic TV Guide is your average TV guide- it has the list of channels and at what time the programmes are on. A red vertical line goes down the screen which indicates how long a programme has left, I quite like this as it means if a programme is near the end I know not to bother watching it.
It also has an 8 day TV Guide so you can see what is on TV in the days to come.
The only disadvantage is that the guide doesn't have a page up or page down button, this can be quite annoying if you want to browse through the channels quickly.
Play, Pause, Rewind & Fast Forward.
When you are watching live television you can pause it at any time by pressing the pause button on the remote. It's great if you need to answer the phone, need the loo or sort little ones out. To resume the programme you were watching you press the play button and the programme will start where you paused it so you don't miss out on anything!
You can also rewind live TV but you must have been already watching the programme to rewind it. If you press the rewind button several times you can increase the rewind speed, and it's possible to rewind 1 or 2 hours.
You can't fast forward live TV so no skipping the adverts. But you can fast forward recorded or paused programmes, it works in the same way as rewind, if you press the fast forward button several times it will speed up the process until it reaches live TV.
I think it's great you can pause TV, although I haven't used it as much as I thought I would. I guess this is because I'm not a huge television watcher and the programmes I do watch I generally sit through the whole episode.
But still it's a really handy feature and when watching recorded programmes I like being able to skip the adverts!
The other feature is favourite channel list, you can select all of your favourite channels or radio stations and put them into a favourites list.
This is pretty handy if you don't know what number your favourite channel is, instead of searching through the TV guide which could take a while you can go into your favourites and quickly find it.
The HD (High Definition) side of things. We are all set up for HD TV but unfortunately we still have to wait a while until we can receive it in our area! I can't comment on how good the HD is, but already compared to the freeview that came with the TV we have a better quality picture with his Sagemcom Freeview Box.
So I have high hopes for when we are able to receive HD channels!
The Remote Control-
The remote that comes with the Freeview Box is a nice size. It's not chunky like the Sky controller and it's 18cms in length. Compared to the appearance of the Box the remote is attractive! It's black in colour with a small silver strip down the sides. Even though it's small I wouldn't say the buttons are all cramped up, they are a decent size but people with really large fingers may have a bit of trouble.
The buttons are well labelled and it's clear to see what you are about to press.
The only thing you can't do with the remote is change the volume, I have to use the original TV controller to change the volume.
A slight problem with the remote is that you have to press it directly at the Freeview Box for it to change channel etc. I find with the Sky remote I didn't have to point it directly. On a lazy day this can be annoying but I'm now used to it and so I automatically direct it at the box.
The remote takes 2 AAA batteries which are supplied.
- Overall -
I am extremely impressed with this Sagemcom Freeview+ HD Box. I had only heard of Sagemcom a few times before so I didn't really know what to expect compared to other brands, but I have been pleasantly surprised and a few months down the line since purchasing this product I am still very happy with it.
I have definitely saved money by having this instead of Sky+ and I don't really miss Sky at all even though I have less channels.
The only two disadvantages for me is the fact there is no page up/ page down button on the TV guide and that you have to point the remote directly at the Freeview Box as it doesn't change channel even if the remote is very slightly not pointing the Box. Sometimes remotes have a little give in them so it doesn't have to be pointed directly at the Box. But these are just two small disadvantages and nothing that makes the Box unusable!
The Freeview Box is worth 5 Stars with it's 320GB memory, 180 Hours of recording time, pause, rewind, fast forward. It's exactly what I wanted at what I think is a reasonable price.
Since I have purchased it in PC World I can't seem to find it online, but you can get it on Amazon.co.uk, Comet and if you look around I'm sure you can find it in other places too.
Like I said prices seem to vary from £189-£200+.