TVonics MDR-200 £50
31st May 2007 | 23:00
It may be small, but it delivers a sizeable performance
Wales-based TVonics has worked hard to make the MDR-200 both distinctive and a cut above much of the competition. A novel concept aimed at those who want the benefits of digital TV on a small set in the bedroom, the lightweight device is roughly two-thirds the size of a paperback novel. It has a minimal fascia that simply features red and green LED indicators adjacent to the TVonics logo.
You can mount it horizontally or vertically using the stand provided or, if you have a flatscreen TV, you can attach the adapter to the rear, out of sight, and dangle the supplied remote eye in order to relay remote commands to the source.
TVonics is also proud of the adapter's low power-consumption rating of just 4W in operation and 1W in standby, which has earned it an Energy Saving recommendation.
The rear panel is very well specified for the money. There's an RF-loopthrough and twin Scarts with RGB, S-video and composite support on the TV Scart and composite only on the VCR. There's also an optical-digital audio output. The slim remote has a slightly cheap feel to it, but sports sensibly laid-out and responsive buttons.
The initial tuning process proved relatively swift with the adapter managing to pick up all the Freeview radio and TV channels from the average reception coverage in our test area.
The menu system is fairly intuitive, but if you do get confused you'll find a help screen in the menus. Channel changing and interactive digital text are also commendably speedy in operation. You can switch channels via a single list or there's an eight-day programme guide, which shows in grid form what's on nine channels at a time on a day-to-day basis.
You can also PIN lock channels and there's a manual timer option with once, daily and weekly options.
Other notable features include a screen saver option for plasma users to choose between 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios with a letterbox option.
Freeview always seems to suffer when viewing on large flatscreen displays. Nevertheless, the MDR- 200 produces surprisingly solid results, using the RGB Scart output, which are perfectly serviceable for small (28in or below) screens. Images can look a little soft on larger screens, but there's little difference to viewing images on a TV with a built-in digital tuner.
While £50 may seem a little expensive for a basic Freeview provider, this versatile little adapter has enough thoughtful innovations to make it a worthy purchase if you have a TV in need of a digital upgrade. And, what's more, it's space and energy saving to boot.