Technisat Digipal LCD £1600

30th Jun 2005 | 23:00

Planning a holiday and can't bear to be away from the TV?

Slumping in front of the set in your living room or bedroom isn't the only way to watch TV these days. Even mobile phones will soon have digital tuners in them, and it's easy to transfer recorded programmes to one of the growing number of portable media players in order to enjoy TV on the go.

The Digipal LCD may not be as lightweight as these products (it's a relatively hefty half-kilo) but it serves a useful purpose, particularly, say, if you're on a long car journey or may be planning a caravanning holiday in UK and want to watch digital TV on a rainy day.

Due in part, no doubt, to the power requirements the Digipal exhibits none of the slimline, flat-screen futuristic looks we've come to expect from TVs that use LCD technology.

Instead, we're presented with dull grey, decidedly Eighties-looking plastic casing and a remote control that, although functional, is pretty much equivalent to what you'd expect to find bundled with cheaper Freeview adapters. There are small black buttons down the right-hand side for changing the channel, picture volume and other settings, and the set also comes with a stand attachment should you be thinking of wall-mounting it.

The Digipal LCD comes supplied with a 12V universal adapter, but if you're not a position to plug it in, rechargeable batteries are built-in.

The antenna poking out from the rear has its own 5V supply and it's here that you'll also find a serial port for PC software updates.

The TV doubles as a monitor too, hence the inclusion of an S-video connector (although the supplied cable is composite to Svideo only) so you could also use it to watch a VCR or DVD player. You can also output the tuner to a VCR or an external TV, effectively using it just like a normal adapter.

The menu software is basic but easy to fathom (a bonus as the only manual currently available is in German). There's an automatic setup option or you can do manual or extended searches with the option to set frequency parameters and even enter PIDS. There's also an antenna adjust setting where you can waggle the aerial and view the effect on signal strength and quality.

You can PIN-lock channels and set the aspect ratio for outputting to another TV. A single button is used to flick between TV and radio channels and each is accompanied by a programme information bar showing now-and-next info, which can also be expanded to show now-and-next synopses. If you want more technical info (such as the type of modulation in use, network provider, etc) you can view that too.

The EPG supports the DVB eight-day data and shows a full-screen list of programmes for the channel you're watching, and programmes can be highlighted to show synopses of each.

The EPG can be used to set the timer - which can also be set manually - and it can be set to repeat, daily, weekly, or on weekdays or weekends only. Up to 32 events can be set up to a year in advance. You can also create a single favourites list.

The 6.8in screen is roughly the same size as your average portable DVD player, but the picture quality is still a cut above that found on many other portable devices. Pictures are bright and sharp and show little evidence of bothersome image-lag.

It also has a satisfyingly wide viewing angle; the picture only dims at the very extremes, where squinting at such a small screen becomes a pointless exercise anyway. The stereo audio quality won't blow you away but it's passable as far as flat panel TVs go.

Special mention also goes to the quality of the tuner - crucial if you plan to use the Digipal while on the move. Indeed, even when located deep in our interference-heavy offices without the benefit of a rooftop aerial, the Digipal managed to pick up a few Freeview channels, and a few radio channels.

At £349, the Digipal LCD is very expensive and it wouldn't have hurt Technisat to spend a bit more effort making it look more appealing and modern. Still, if you've got your annual holiday planned and can't bear to miss your favourite soap (or wait and watch a recording of it when you get home), it does the job pretty well. Grant Rennell

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