Goodman's GDB300HD is nothing if not a bargain. At around £70, it's by far the cheapest Freeview HD receiver we've seen to date. In fact, if you look at Comet's page for the device, you'll see it's possible to spend nearly as much on a single, 1m HDMI cable. For people on a budget who are keen to get into high-definition viewing, the GDB300HD could be ideal.
Looks good, feels cheap
The box itself looks pretty attractive when you first see it. It's shiny and black, which means it will fit into almost every AV system easily. The front has virtually nothing on it, save for four LEDs in a square configuration, and a power button on the right-hand side.
Although it looks quite cool, the plastic is cheap, and it marks very easily. The unit also feels quite flimsy and light. But, then again, it's a box that lives under your TV -- it's not designed to be used as a crash helmet or aeroplane, so build quality isn't a primary concern. We can also see the GDB300HD being used mainly with secondary TVs, in which case it will probably only be used occasionally.
On the back, there's every socket you could ever need. An HDMI output provides the HD signal, but there's a pair of Scart sockets for older TVs too. There's also a digital audio output, which is of limited use, but we'll talk more about that later. Aerial loop-through means that you can connect the box to your aerial, and then connect your TV to the box and continue to get reception on your television without faffing about with adaptors.
We were pleasantly surprised by the style of Goodmans' menus when we first fired the box up. The menus look contemporary and are easy on the eye. The user interface looks like something that belongs on a hi-def TV, rather than the mess all too commonly seen on Freeview boxes. Everything is clear and easy to understand. We're impressed.
The eight-day electronic programme guide is also very funky-looking. Although there's no record option in the EPG, if you select a show that's due to air in the future, pressing the 'OK' button will set a reminder. If the show is on air at the time you're looking, pressing 'OK' takes you directly to the channel. It's simple and easy to use.
One issue we noticed was that the box isn't particularly quick to respond to menu commands from the remote. Often there's a pause while the box thinks. This isn't a huge problem, but you may find yourself assuming that you haven't pressed a button properly and pressing it again. This can mean you end up issuing commands you didn't mean to. You'll get used to this over time but it can make for a slightly frustrating user experience.
Top picture quality
For such a cheap box, we have no complaints at all about the picture quality. Standard-definition channels looked pretty good to us -- at least, they looked as good as they can when they're so compressed by the broadcasters.