Been bailed up by relatives and asked to explain ‘this new-fangled digital TV thing’ as the family’s ‘technical person’? Our advice: Stick with the simple stuff. Analogue TV will be switched off between 2010 and 2013 and set top boxes provide a quick and easy way to go digital.
The Olin HVBT-3200 high definition set top box retails for $149 and combines simplicity with enough connectors to keep most satisfied — optical digital out, HDMI out, Composite out (RCA) and Component Out. It also has an antenna in and loop out connection as well as a serial RS-232 should you need to update the firmware.
Setup takes minutes and the remote is clear and easy to use, if a little slow on the uptake when it comes to switching channels. It’s also nice see a user manual with real-world screenshots; the likes of Naomi Robson and Huey’s Cooking Adventures add localisation to the instructions. The device supports OSD teletext (DVB Compliant) subtitles and 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios. It also has a handy parental control.
Set top boxes can be pretty power-hungry, which is why, since 2008, they have had to comply with Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) Regulations in passive standby, active standby and on mode power use. The HVBT-3200 complied across all these categories.
- Easy to use
- Switching between channels can be slow