We can't recommend any of these products as none of them scored better than 'OK' overall. See the table below for their results.
All except the Wintal (which received an overall score of only 48%) would be OK as a short-term substitute for buying a new TV, provided you’re in an area with good reception. Buy on price and, if you’re connecting it to a recording device like a DVD recorder, a timer might be helpful.
The set-top boxes are usually fine when receiving a strong, clean signal, but as the signal strength is reduced, or noise is added, most begin to have trouble. As a general rule, they perform better with a VHF signal, but this is a complex area and specific problems may bring even the best of them undone.
If you are considering buying a new TV, we suggest you look for one with a built-in digital tuner. Over the last few TV tests we’ve found the inbuilt TV tuners generally perform well. In recent tests some even get into our difficult to achieve ‘excellent’ rating, but by contrast the best of these external products only manage an ‘OK’ score (59% for the TEAC).
More than a set-top box
The Beyonwiz DP-H1 is more than just a set-top box. It has most of the functions of a DVR built-in, but has no hard drive. It can also act as a streaming device from a PC or home network. If you have a spare hard drive with a USB connection and can live with a single tuner, it may be an option.
However, you’ll be limited to recording only one channel at a time. This model is a lot more versatile than the other products in this test, but is also more expensive and scored only 49% in the tuner test.
na Not applicable.
ns Not stated.
* Rounded up to the next centimetre or half centimetre, with all protruding parts included. Power cord and connecting cables excluded.
Scores The overall score is made up of:
- Ease of use: 50%
- Digital tuner score: 50%
- On/off timer number indicates the number of timer events that can be programmed.
Price Recommended retail, as of November 2008.
How we tested
- Our testers checked each model's HD tuner for reception performance in areas with a good quality signal, as well as areas where reception was less than ideal and where reception might be affected by things such as a dryer or vacuum cleaner operating in the house.
- Our testers connected the STBs to a regulated power supply and power meter and recorded standby energy consumption.
For ease of use, testers looked for an auto-tuning system that was informative and simple to use. They checked the menus for ease of understanding, navigation and clarity.
- Testers looked at the remote control and determined how easy it was to use for common functions.
- Each unit was also subject to various electrical safety tests.