The five best value Freeview set top boxes

So, you've just retuned your telly to find a very blank screen. Bit of a bummer. Yes, this 30th September Freeview day is all very well and good but for whatever reasons of incompatability or sheer age, your old digi box has just given up the ghost.

Fear not. Help is at hand, for we at Pocket-lint have put together a quick list of excellent value Freeview receiving set-top boxes for whatever you needs and whatever your budget and all are available to buy today.

The Cheapest One

Name
Argos STB101

Price
£18.99

Storage
None

From time to time you'll see someone come out with a Freeview box for under a tenner but they generally run out of stock and discontinue the line very quickly. So, the one which you'll have to shell least pennies for at the moment is the Argos Value Range STB101 Digital Set Top Box - to give it it's full name. It's got a 7-day EPG, one SCART socket, an RF connnector and measures 3.5 x 25 x 18.5cm. Other than that, there's very little on the outside to distinguish it from a drill bit box. It has good reviews, not five star ones, but the point is that it works and will certainly fill the gap while you decide whether to completely upgrade your home cinema or not.

The Smallest One

Name
TVonics MFR-200
Storage
None

Price
£39.49

When they say that the TVonics MFR-200 fits in the palm of your hand, they really mean it. We're not talking about sitting on your fingers here, it actually fits in just the palm area. If you want to get the pens and paper out, it's 27 x 70 x 54mm. It has an 8-day EPG, a parental control and works with absolutely any and every TV through a normal aerial cable. You can always pay a couple of quid more for the newer MFR-300 which attaches to the back of your set but, other than that, there's not a lot of difference. Looks great and works unbelievably well.

The Green One

Name
Sagem ITD63 Eco

Price
£48.43

Storage
None

Again, no great features here aside an EPG and a remote control but the bonus with the Sagem Eco range is that you not only save money on the purchase but also on the power consumption over time as well. It runs at 7W and will sit in standy at 1W. Sagem constantly refreshes this range, so you'll receive contiuned customer support and always be able to find a similar replacement if you like the product.

The Features One

Name
Humax PVR9300T-G

Price
£145

Storage
320GB HDD

If you're a little more flush and want to buy something that does more than just act as a receiver, then you'll get excellent value from the Humax reconditioned scheme. The company sells on only what they term "Grade A" returns. That is to say that each is in excellent physical condition and has been tested to make sure that everything in them is in perfect working order. So, instead of paying a premium, you can get a box with twin tuners - so that you can record two channels while viewing a third - 320GB of recording space and HDMI upscaling so that if you have an HD Ready TV, it will have a go at taking the quality of your programs up beyond SD resolutions. It also comes with a one year guarantee just in case the company's tests missed something. Not bad for £145.

The Luxury One

Name
Samsung DVD-SH897M

Price
£249

Storage
320GB HDD + DVD recording

If you really want to treat yourself, then the way forward is the Samsung DVD-SH897M. It's got the same upscaling, twin tuner and 320GB HDD options as the Humax box but also comes with a DVD player/recorder. DVD recording may arguably be something that's never quite going to take off with PVRs around but the flexibilty and added storage is a bonus plus it means one less unit under your telly. It will also upscale all your old DVDs to a better quality too. Nice, shiny and reassuringly expensive.


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