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Evesham iPlayer

Evesham iPlayer HD 80GB DVR

Extra definition for couch potatoes

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Review Evesham's iPlayer is a Freeview box with a difference. With a built in hard drive, HDMI output and the ability to receive HD broadcasts it would be remarkable enough, but it also manages to fit an internet connection and network media player into the box too, making it potentially the only set-top box you'll ever need...

The original iPlayer was a very popular set-top box, combining a Freeview receiver with internet access, and the new model, sold by UK PC supplier Evesham, builds on that. As well as receiving the standard-definition Freeview broadcasts, the new iPlayer can decode High Definition using the H.264 codec, should the current tests in London ever move to a full broadcast service. And since HD isn't much use with a SCART connector, the box sports HDMI too.

Evesham iPlayer front

There's an Ethernet link as well, so you can connect to your network and browse the web, or play back media files stored on your PC. There's also a USB port, a SECA2 card slot for pay TV and an 80GB hard drive for recording without messing around with tapes. In theory, it's a pretty attractive proposition, helping you go digital, giving you access to media on your PC and being fairly future-proof into the bargain - all in a compact box, too.

For £300 you receive the box, a SCART cable, remote control, a very long Ethernet cable and a CD with software and the manual. There's also a quick-start card included, though the initial setup is pretty much plug and play. I connected the iPlayer to an HDMI-equipped HD TV. I needed to press the HDTV button on the remote to bring up the display settings, but besides that, tuning in to Freeview was quick and easy.

Evesham iPlayer rear

Picture quality was excellent - at least on the main channels - and the upscaled HDMI output certainly gives a crisp display, though not even this box can rescue the abysmal quality of some terrestrially broadcast digital channels. Channel changes are reasonably quick, if not the fastest I've seen, and interactive works extremely well. In all, the iPlayer is one of the fastest boxes I've come across.

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