* Prices may differ from that shown
There are instructions on how to install and use which are included in the box. It has 320 GB that equates to 320 hours of programmes and in HD 120 hours. That's not a huge amount of space but has served my recording needs so far over the period of a year. There is an HDMI lead and a power pack, a remote control, an Ethernet port to connect to the internet, two SCART sockets, a USB connection through the front of the box (beside the red digit clock) and digital/analogue sockets.
The Sagem looks quite stylish in black with a rounded metallic frame that has a clock on it. The clock disappears when changing channel and recording but does return and is accurate.
The idea of this device is to be able to watch and record Freeview and HD channels and all for the cost of this set-top box. Expect to pay over one hundred pounds.
There are hundreds of channels available without any subscription payments required. There's plenty to watch without needing to pay out tons of money for a subscription service. To change channel press the P+ and P- buttons or type in the required channel number. The remote control is in a less stylish grey which doesn't match the box. I thought there would be a subtitle function but I can't find it which means my Mum can't watch some of the recorded programmes.
The HDMI connects the receiver to the televisions set. It took a while to understand how to use this. The TV guide comes up on the screen at a press of a button. Scroll through the on screen TV guide to find the programme you wish to record. I'm afraid scrolling is a painfully slow process. Select the programme and press the button.
I am not too impressed with the sound. It just doesn't seem all that clear to me but this might be the television.
I am puzzled as to why sometimes the recording doesn't finish through to the end. I watched everything but the last five minutes of 'Empire to the Sun'. I assume the programme had been shown later than scheduled but I thought the box might have the capabilities to adjust to that.
When the digital switchover was made I found the box stopped working. I was forced to pay to get someone in to help. Eventually, it was put right but I don't know how.
From the beginning I have always had to press the source button on my television control. Then move the arrow keys down until on the screen a menu appears and I scroll down until HDMI2 and click on that. After this a message comes up to say there is no signal and to check for loose connections. I even had to call an engineer out because I didn't understand it. I thought there was a loose connection between the box and the television. I've learnt to ignore this. I have to switch on the box control. It then states 'wait' on the television screen. Then there is a labouriously long pause. Finally, you can watch TV, or press list to see what you've recorded, or click on watch you recorded or record. When scrolling through the recorded programmes each one that you touch will begin playing, in the top corner of the screen, even if you don't want it to.
Fast forward the adverts and I can't stop it in time to meet the next part of the programme. Therefore, the very important function doesn't perform, so I have to sit through all the adverts anyway! It pauses just fine and can be re-wound but the same problem occurs as with fast forward. I don't have the same control as I did with video tapes or DVDs and I can't take programmes to other people's houses. I consider this a backward step.
The device has just completed its first year of use. It provides a great picture, but that might be the television producing it, and normally records well. Yesterday, though, I set the recorder and noticed that the power light wasn't doing anything. I quickly repeated the recording process and thankfully, it did record. However, it was freezing up and several times I switched the power off everything at the mains and restarted. This is not the first time that there have been difficulties. Luckily, I just managed to get it to record with seconds to spare. Had I been out, or even in a different room, I wouldn't have noticed that there was something wrong.
A whole series over a number of days and weeks can be recorded but I don't trust this and either don't bother with the series or record one episode at a time on the day of transmission. The whole series can be recorded at the touch of just one button which makes it very easy if you want to do this.
I have no confidence that my recorded programmes will be safe from deletion in the future. This saddens me and sometimes technology advancing can have disadvantages that make them seem rather backwards.
Now I keep getting an on screen message asking me to update. I keep saying no because I'm scared it will not work anymore or delete the recordings. I don't even know why it needs to be updated.
This was brought on the recommendation of a sales person in Currys. I took his word that it was the best. I must remember not to take their advice but check the reviews before buying.
The advice, in my review, is to not buy unless it very cheap as it can't be relied upon.
Having had a Sky package for some time, and then Virgin too, we realised that for the monthly fee we were paying it was not worth keeping either package. It was on looking around after this that we came across Freesat.
After looking at a few models, we decided on the Sagemcom DTR94320S 320 GB. This was partly due to the price, and also that it provided the features we were Interested in the most, this being the ability to pause, record and rewind TV, as well as being able to set up and record an entire series.
Installtion was fast and simple, done so by plugging in to the former Sky dish / cable, then literally letting it search for and store channels.
It provides a good HD picture, and generally works ok.
The main problems we find is that it does literally have a mind of its own. It can sometimes record entirely different programs that you set it up to do, and has even lost recordings entirely.
Overall its resonably priced and saves you money on any monthlt TV package, but can be unreliable sometimes with programming and recording.
I bought this box from Currys when buying a load of things to furnish a new house. It was the cheapest available in the shop at the time that incorporated free sat and a recording function.
The box is slimline and stylish enough for my needs. It's made from a dark grey plastic and looks fine where it is positioned in my living room (on a fairly prominent shelf on top of the aplifier for my surround sound system.
The box plugs into a satellite dish connection. I chose to go for this as I don;t watch a lot of television and therefore didn;t want to commit to a sky package, however had a pre-existing sattellite connection in the house I bought and fancied a few extra channels. The box gives access to aver 150 channels (most of which don't have much worth watching on them). Some of the included channels that I do make occasional use of include: BBC 3, Scuzz music channel (and some other mostly pop channels), E4 and film four. There are several shopping channels, a few music and news channels, loads of radio stations and quite a bit more that I don't really use.
The box is easy to set up and once plugged into the back of the TV very easy to activate and search for channels using the on sceen guide.
The box is quite slow to load up after turning on and it takes a while for the channel menu to become usable. It is also quite slow to navigate around the menu as the box seems to take a long time 'thinking' and loading up the program list.
A remote is included which is very similar to an old digital set top box I had and I woul imagine is similar to most others. The layout is intuitive and easy to figure out.
The recording function was the main reason I chose this box and it works well and is easy to operate. It even allows you to pause live television and resume so that you don;t miss anything during a toilet break. I now like to start a film, press record, pause and make some tea, then resume and be able to fast forward through the adverts.
The box is £160 pounds at amazon at the moment. This is about what I paid in Febuary so it doesn;t appear to have dropped. It appears from a quick web search that other brands are available for about £140 with a similar spec.
The cheaper end of freesat recorders. Due to the slow response of the menu I would advise trying something else.
I have had multi-channel TV for 20 years now, first embracing cable TV via the long defunct Videotron and then moving on to Sky when I moved in with my husband. Although I am a big fan of Freeview, I appreciate that satellite TV offers a good signal in a far higher proportion of the country, so I don't take on board some people's assertion that satellite dishes make your house look downmarket - if it means I get a good TV signal I really don't mind.
I recently got Freesat installed - I opted for this because I wanted HD TV without a subscription and because my Panasonic TV already had a tuner built in.
The main reason I got Freesat was for my daughter however. We have aerial issues here and although she had a TV in her room so she could watch BluRays and play her Wii, it wasn't connected to an aerial for TV. I was able to get Freesat installed fairly cheaply because she qualified for help under the government's Switch Over scheme because she is registered disabled so I decided to spend £199 and get a Freesat HD+ box for her bedroom.
~~Inside the Box~~
This isn't a contents heavy box. Inside you get:-
* Remote Control
* Power cable
* Instruction Manuals
* HDMI cable
I didn't set this up myself but it's not quite as straightforward to install as a regular Freesat tuner because it needs to have two inputs from the satellite dish - this is to enable the receiver to receive two signals which it needs so you can record one channel while watching another.
If you only have one cable running from your satellite dish it will work, but only to view Freesat - you won't be able to record it.
As regards input sockets, the receiver has one HDMI input, 2 SCART inputs, an Ethernet port, one USB input (which is located at the front of the box), two satellite dish inputs and analogue and digital audio inputs.
The receiver is set up quite simply with just the TV and a BluRay player - there's no home cinema system or external speakers used in my daughter's bedroom as she is happy enough with the sound she gets through her LG TV.
The receiver connects to the TV via the HDMI cable. As my daughter's TV only has one HDMI input I had to get a signal splitter so she could have her BluRay player connected too and the receiver works well with this.
First installation is straightforward with onscreen prompts to tell you what to do. Once again, I didn't do this but I was in the room as the engineer did the set up and he advised we use a Scottish borders postcode to receive ITV1 in HD - I am sorry if I upset any of my fellow Scots by saying this, but ITV1 offers better programmes overall than STV - hence my decision.
The box also has parental control. My daughter rarely watches TV past the watershed and if she does, it's still invariably music channels she watches. You can lock access to some channels but I trust my daughter and haven't felt the need to do this. Not yet anyway! You need to keep the parental control PIN safe as you will need it if you ever need to reset the box.
You can also add non Freesat channels to the box but you need to know the transponder parameters to do this. I was going to add Bliss, a music channel my daughter likes, to the set up manually but before I got the chance it was added to the Freesat line-up so I haven't tried doing this yet.
~~Watching Freesat on the Receiver~~
With Freesat we currently have three HD channels - BBC1, BBC HD and ITV1 HD. It is expected that Channel 4 HD will launch on Freesat soon.
In addition there are more than 140 further channels offering films, entertainment, news, documentaries and music channels along with a plethora of shopping channels.
Freesat suits me because I am not stuck with a contract I might struggle to get out of when my rental period ends and my daughter is happy with it too - she gets Channel 4, More 4 and lots of music channels plus she can watch "Total Wipeout" on HD in her bedroom. I had been concerned she might whinge a bit about the lack of the Disney Channel but she seems to be over that now.
Changing channels is easy - on the remote control there are two buttons for this - one marked P+ the other marked P-. Similarly on the other side you can turn the volume up or down. Alternatively you can enter the channel number you want to watch - so if, for instance, you want to watch BBC News, you just enter the number 200 and it will take you there.
The remote enables you to set up subtitles when watching a programme and also switch to teletext directly if you wish to do so.
You can also pause and rewind live TV using the Deferred/Live Mode. This automatically saves the previous minutes of the channel being watched and is easy to use by merely using the pause, play, rewind and fast forward buttons on your remote control. To exit this mode you press the stop button on the remote. My daughter loves this mode and uses it regularly.
Sound quality on the box is good coming through the built in speakers on my daughter's TV but nothing earth shattering.
~~Recording Freesat on the Receiver~~
I have said this before but it's worth saying it again. Back in the day when setting a timer for recording programmes using a video recorder was both tricky and unreliable, I find any kind of PVR simplicity itself to use when recording programmes.
I am currently using an HDD drive linked via USB on my downstairs TV which is limited in the scope of what I can record and these limitations are highlighted by using the Sagem receiver.
To record a programme you merely find what you wish to record by going to the TV guide, selecting your programme and pressing a button which will record it and add it to your library. If you wish to record an entire series, you can do this by pressing one button - which is a great feature and means the fact the TV guide is only 7 days isn't too limiting - especially if you are going away for a couple of weeks and don't want to miss your favourite programme.
You can also watch another programme while using the receiver to record another one.
Playback is easy too - just press your Menu button and scroll down to your Library and find the programme you wish to view there. There are play, fast forward, rewind, pause and stop buttons on the remote control to facilitate playback with ease.
The quality of recordings is superb - whether in standard or high definition. Picture clarity is as sharp as it would be if viewing the programme normally and I've not had any issues with wonky lip sync which is something I have encountered on PVRs in the past. Similarly, sound quality is good too.
The capacity of the memory on this box is 320 GB so it's not got the biggest memory but it's capable of recording 320 hours of standard definition programmes or 128 hours of HD programmes.
This is a great box - it really produces excellent pictures in both standard and high definition. My daughter's TV isn't as sophisticated as the TV in the living room and is only HD ready as opposed to fully HD but the picture quality is great from this box in high definition in particular.
There is one big downside to this box however and one I must mention - it's rather noisy. Even in standby it makes a noticeable humming noise and while you don't really notice the noise when you are watching TV when you turn the TV off you most definitely do! As a result I would advise powering the box off when you aren't using it. Fortunately this is easy to do without having to unplug the entire box as there is a power on and off switch on the power cable. This is similar to the power on and off switches you find on the cables for lamps and is easy to locate.
The box also isn't the most stylish I have ever seen. It is slim and lightweight, but I personally find the curved edges a bit odd looking.
At the end of the day however this box is versatile, offering HD and SD pictures and giving you the chance to record programmes in both definitions in a most efficient and straightforward manner. If you are a huge TV buff and find programmes continually clash with one another, this box offers the ideal solution to ensure you don't miss anything.
The box is also compatible with the internet thanks to the Ethernet port at the back. I haven't connected this box to the internet but it gives you the option to have tv on demand via Freesat currently having the BBC iPlayer onboard and with the ITV Player due to arrive on the platform soon.
Currently available on Amazon for around £182.99, this is a box I can recommend if you want HD satellite TV which you can record or pause and rewind - without a Sky subscription.