There is a very specific problem on the horizon: the analogue switch-off. When this happens between now and 2012, there will be a lot of older sets that will no longer receive terrestrial TV.
TVonics thinks it has an elegant solution. The MFR-300 is a small, light and easily concealed box that picks up digital TV channels and then sends them to your TV via its RF socket. This means even TVs without Scart sockets aren't excluded from the digital party. We took a look at the £60 MFR-300 to see if it was the sort of thing we'd buy for an elderly relative or the kitchen TV.
The best thing about the MFR-300 is its diminutive size. It's so small, you can just chuck it down the back of your TV and forget about it. TVonics has specifically designed it this way and includes an IR receiver that sits on top of your TV, which means changing channels is nice and easy.
Because of its size, putting a Scart socket on this receiver just isn't possible. Instead, it features RF modulation, which means you simply tune your TV's existing analogue tuner into a special channel the box broadcasts. This is exactly the same way VHS players worked.
Of course, RF modulation doesn't produce a perfect picture, but the good news is there's an optional AV cable, which connects to the TV via a composite video lead. Most TVs have a composite AV input, but you can easily adapt it to Scart if yours doesn't. Of course, this little cable is an optional extra and costs £8, including postage from TVonics directly.
We had our MFR-300 up and running in about five minutes. Our TV was able to pick up its signal with no problems at all. From there on, it was just a simple matter of tuning the MFR-300 in to the digital stations. Again, this took virtually no time and was all rather automatic.
Picture quality was very good, although we aren't talking the sort of quality you could get over Scart. We love the fact that the box can output a widescreen signal; this is a great benefit to the people who have older, widescreen CRTs with no digital tuner.
Additionally, this box does everything a full-size set-top box does. Interactivity is no problem: in fact, it's speedy for red button features and we were very impressed. You also get audio description support, which is handy if you have problems with sight and would like extra audio information about what's happening on screen.