If you're currently one of the 27 per cent of the population who can't get a Freeview signal, this box will save you from the horrors of a blank screen when the digital switch-over comes. It's one of the first batch of freesat boxes to hit the market, offering digital TV via your satellite dish. It's available now for £50 online.
The box itself is about the size of a hardback treatise on the evils of Nazism, so it won't take over your front room. Unlike the , it's only standard def, but there's still a generous helping of ports.
Surprisingly, there's a digital audio out at the rear, along with two Scarts, analogue audio and an Ethernet connection. The latter isn't useful for anything yet, but will be one day when the freesat folks work out how to connect it to broadband for interactive services. It's also good to see a pass-through connector for the satellite signal, so you can send the signal to another box if you want, although you'll have to buy a separate cable.
The remote is fine, with everything pretty much where you'd expect and none of the redundant buttons we've occasionally seen on Freeview boxes.
The box is fairly nippy, responding to change channel commands in about a second, and the picture is a similar quality to the one available on Freeview. Whether that means 'good' or not depends on what you're currently watching.
If you're watching Countdown in a static caravan in Morecambe (your friends probably call you 'Rog') from a fuzzy analogue signal, it will be a big improvement, but we didn't notice a significant difference switching between BBC One on our Freeview Sony telly and the Grundig freesat feed.
Helpfully, the first screen shows you how strong your signal is, giving you a chance to fiddle with the dish if you need to improve it. Then, though, our box spent four minutes downloading new system software and restarting. Although frustrating if you simply want to get Quincy on the go asap, it's actually a good idea, as freesat is a new platform and there will be new software that irons out bugs and adds new features all the time.