High definition is all very well, but do the new generation of Freeview HD receivers justify their price? Aside from two high-def TV channels (so far) - ITV 1 HD and BBC HD - receivers like Icecrypt's T2200 receiver are not much different from their predecessors, right? Wrong. If the T2200 is anything to go by, we're going to get more for our money than just two HD channels.
For starters the T2200 is fast. Super-fast, in fact. Channels are tuned-in quickly, and skipping between channels, calling-up menus and using the remote are faster and less frustrating than ever.
The T2200 also has an ace up its sleeve in the shape if a USB 2.0 slot. Mounted on the front of this tiny set-top box (it measures just 260 x 190 x 46mm) behind a flap, that USB slot makes it possible to play a host of digital media files from a memory stick. It plays MP3 music and displays JPEG photos, of course, but more surprising in the T2200's ability to play DivX and even DivX HD (MKV format), M2TS and MP3 video files.
That puts the T2200 streets ahead of most of the major manufacturer's Blu-ray and DVD players, but it's not just this diminutive deck's native file compatibilities that's got us excited; it's that they're handled so well. As well as being lightning quick to play digital files, it's possible to skip back to the nicely presented translucent file list on a USB stick while a video plays underneath. Once playing, video files can be skipped though at an impressive 64x speed.
Video quality is excellent, whether from the high-def TV channels, SD channels, or from DivX files, with a bright and detailed picture provided. We used the T2200 with an indoor aerial (One For All's SV9380 Full HD antennae) in an area that has "gone digital", and the digital signals were impeccable.
So too are the T2200's onscreen menus. Its EPG is particularly impressive; this white/yellow/grey menu fills the whole screen and displays programmes for the next 3 hours for seven channels at once, while a smaller list of channels can also be called up from the remote. Complete with Freeview HD logo, the EPG is deliciously high resolution and manages to squeeze in graphics that display the time and date (7 days' programme information can be called-up).
While quick and responsive, the T2200's lightweight remote can feel a little small and cumbersome to use, with too many of the buttons too tiny and fiddly, though the major controls are comfortably positioned.
Favourite channels can be stored easily while a short synopsis of each programme is presented for a few seconds when a channel is switched to.
Aside from its ins and outs - an HDMI, a couple of Scarts, USB, two common interface slots and an optical audio out - there's also an Ethernet port on the rear. This brings the spectre of future online services via a software upgrade. The makers also tell us that the T2200 will soon be able to record programmes to a USB stick (or an external hard drive attached to the USB port) via a software upgrade later this year; the evidence for this is already on the remote control, which contains a record button close to the dedicated digital media controls.
Perfect for those wanting access to Freeview HD channels for the World Cup, the T2200 goes further by offering DivX and DivX HD playback. Add a great user interface, quick operation and some future-proof connectivity, and this tiny Icecrypt proves a great introduction to DVB-T2 transmissions.