Digifusion FRT 101T £90

31st Mar 2005 | 23:00

Digifusion plays the Top Up TV card

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

Performance is fair, but probably as good as you're going to get south of £100

Like:

<p>Good pictures and audio</p><p>Top Up TV offer</p>

Dislike:

<p>Not the most stylish</p>

If you haven't already done so, it's high time you started turning your thoughts to the best way to receive the digital channels already surging across our airwaves, as the great analogue switch off is still (so we're told) just around the corner.

You could, of course, go the whole hog and invest in a new TV with a built-in digital tuner. But a much cheaper upgrade option if you're happy with your current screen - or if the new TV you've got your eye on doesn't have a built-in digital tuner - is to shell out a pathetically small sum on an external Freeview digital receiver box that you can connect to your TV via a Scart or tuner connection.

Although the FRT 101T isn't Fusion Digital's first digital set-top receiver, it's certainly its most intriguing. And the reason it's so intriguing is the fact that thanks to a promotion with Top Up TV, it comes with your Top Up TV connection (which would usually set you back £20) and your first month's Top Up TV subs (worth an additional £7.99) completely free.

Adding the Top Up TV pay service to your Freeview reception adds 10 extra channels running at various periods throughout the day: Cartoon Network, E4, Discovery Channel, TCM, UKTV Gold, UKTV style, Boomerang, Bloomberg, UKTV Food, and Discovery Home And Leisure.

With the extra Top Up TV payments taken into account, the FRT 101T notches up an early value advantage over its rivals. But is that all it's got to commend it?

It's no great looker, that's for sure. Some folk will probably appreciate its smallness; it's barely the size of your average hardback novel. But for me, the black and silver fascia and rectangular sculpting look a little too 'hardcore tech' to fit nicely into the average living room.

Slot it in

Inevitably for a box offering a Top Up TV promotion, the FRT 101T carries a card slot into which you must insert the Top Up conditional access card. This is joined by a pair of Scarts (offering RGB output), and an RF loopthrough system. The disappointments here are the lack of any hi-fi or digital audio outputs

In terms of features, the key one after the Top Up TV offer is the eight-day Electronic Programme Guide. As well as responding with extremely impressive speed to your navigational efforts, it scores points for its generally legible, organised presentation and the way it keeps a shrunken version of the picture playing in the top right corner while you search the listings.

You can also helpfully choose programmes from the EPG for timer recording (eight memory slots are provided).

Speedy services

Otherwise the only things of interest are a favourite channels feature, and the speed with which the TV enters Teletext and interactive services offered by certain channels with some of their programming. Sadly the 'instant replay' feature found on one or two other Fusion Digital boxes is not available.

The FRT 101T's AV performance rates as good rather than great. Colours are rich in colour and don't suffer from any obvious fuzz or interference from the box's connections or inner electronics. But there is a touch more evidence than I'd like of blocking noise generated by the digital MPEG encoding/decoding process.

The FRT 101T's audio is every bit as pristine and crisp as that of the vast majority of other sub-£100 digiboxes out there, though.

TVDigital home
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