With Freeview recorders starting at around £20 these days, it's pretty important for any manufacturer charging more than that to have a compelling reason for doing so. Digital Vision thinks it does with the £70 GiGo, designed not only to receive Freeview but also to record it.
The GiGo isn't all it seems, because it records TV programmes not to a hard drive but to one of three USB memory cards which the owner provides. Using these memory cards means that you can record TV and take the files with you for use on a laptop or portable media player.
The build quality of the GiGo is pretty horrendous. It's made out of basic plastic that feels cheap to the touch. To save money, Digital Vision has avoided implementing every possible luxury. It's taken this to such an extreme that the two halves of the case are held together by just one screw. This means that, if you grab the edges, you can easily prise them apart.
But, in this case, we don't think the build quality really matters. It's a shame that the company doesn't ship its hardware in a nifty aluminium case, but the fact is that the quality of the build is unlikely to be an issue for most people, as they'll lob the GiGo under their TV and forget about it.
The GiGo works by recording exactly what's sent through the air to your TV antenna. If you tell the box that you want to record BBC One at 9pm for one hour, it saves all of the transmitted information to the memory card. This means that, if you take the memory card to a PC or other device that can play MPEG-2 files, you'll get the best possible quality.
The GiGo also has a full Freeview electronic programme guide. We've used plenty of these in the past, and the one in this machine really impressed us. It's graphically simple, but not too ugly, and it responds quickly to remote key presses. All in all, it provides a very pleasant user experience.
Because the GiGo can record to three separate USB drives, you're given the opportunity to select which drive to record to when you schedule a recording. Although we like this feature, it's potentially quite confusing -- you'll have to remember which drive is going to record which programme. If you want to remove one of the USB sticks, you'll have to be sure that you haven't scheduled a recording on it. A status light tells you when the USB memory stick is inserted and another light tells you when it's being recorded to.
The only slight oversight is that the GiGo has just a single Freeview tuner. This means watching one channel while recording another is impossible, as is recording two channels at the same time. We were, however, very impressed to see that the GiGo is capable of recording subtitles into the MPEG video stream. That's great news if you have a hearing problem, or just want to see what the chavs are actually saying during the shouting matches on The Jeremy Kyle Show.
Hooked up via Scart to a high-end , the GiGo did a passable job of presenting a high-quality TV picture. As with the unit itself, every possible penny has been pinched during the production of the Scart lead in the box. It is, as such, a piece of junk. We'd suggest throwing it out of a window, or using it as something to entertain your pet snake.
With a more capable Scart lead connected, the GiGo gave a significantly improved picture, without the image distortion that we saw previously. We think the machine should have either a component or HDMI output to obtain the best quality, but that's a plea that's likely to go unanswered.