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Linsar FHD1 review

Cracking hi-def pictures, but lacks versatility or extra features

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Our Verdict

For

  • Hi-def pictures
  • Standard-def pictures
  • Ethernet for future on-demand TV

Against

  • Interface can be slow
  • No Common Interface slots for Top-Up TV
  • No USB slot

The UK TV industry has a habit of going its own way, and with the advent of Freeview HD – unique in Europe – there's once again a situation where it's not just the big Japanese companies that can supply the right products.

With around 18 million HD Ready flatscreen TVs sold in the UK, there's a potentially huge market, so we're expecting a wave of British-made Freeview HD boxes, of which Linsar – a company that until now has been producing simple Freeview receivers – is one of the first with its FHD1, recently launched at John Lewis.

Good value, though, is not high on the list of the FHD1's attributes. While the Humax HD Fox-T2 promises add-ons like BBC iPlayer and Sky Player, and the Icecrypt T2200 features DivX HD playback and a couple of Common Interface (CI) slots, Linsar's FHD1 is bereft of these digital distractions.

The latter means it can't be fitted with add-on subscription TV channel cards – such as Top-Up TV – which could be crucial since Sky Sports channels are likely to be accessible soon from any Freeview box with a CI slot.

At least the FHD1 has an Ethernet port, which means it should be compatible with on-demand TV services (such as iPlayer and ITV Player) slated for Freeview in 2011.

Connectivity is reasonably good, though the provision of a Scart socket is bound to confuse some users – why would you pay over-the-odds for a Freeview HD box if you're just interested in standard-def channels and plugging in to an old TV?

Elsewhere on the rear panel is a digital optical audio output, HDMI, an Ethernet LAN port (for iPlayer via a software upgrade next year), RF aerial input and an RF out (for loopthrough).

The FHD1's basic front panel includes controls for standby, and channel up/down beside a display that shows the channel number you're watching.