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Evesham iplayer: Smartest set-top box ever?

Behold the iplayer, a set-top box that lets you watch and record Freeview upscaled to near high-definition quality and connect to your PC to surf the Web

Good news for anyone who likes to veg out in front of the telly: Evesham has just released a super-cool new set-top box that can do pretty much everything. Dubbed the iplayer, it'll let you watch and record Freeview in (upscaled) high definition, browse the Internet, listen to podcasts, and if you ask nicely, it'll probably even make you a cup of tea.

It's basically a Freeview box with a shed-load of extra tricks up its sleeve, though you wouldn't know it to look at it -- its dreary silver finish doesn't do it any favours. But what really matters is what's on the inside. There's an 80GB hard drive that'll let you record up to 70 hours of TV and it'll even upscale the standard-definition Freeview signal to a hi-def 720- or 1080-line signal, output through HDMI, so your films will look much tastier.

The iplayer has a comprehensive seven-day electronic programme guide so you can see which programmes are being shown now and in the future, and there's the option of pausing and rewinding live TV. The funkiness doesn't end there, either: you can also connect an external hard drive or memory key via the iplayer's USB port and play hi-def movies and music files or view images on your TV.

Perhaps most exciting of all, the iplayer can connect to your existing home network via an Ethernet cable, at which point you can use it to browse files on your PC, surf the Internet on your TV, access around 30,000 podcasts, listen to Internet radio and download video content.

It sounds brilliant, we think you'll agree, but there's a catch: it'll cost you £300. The blurb on the Evesham Web site says it's an "amazing price", and that's not far off -- you could buy a whole PC for that sort of money. Still, we think it's definitely worth checking out. We'll have a full review shortly. -RR

Update: We now have a full review of the Evesham iplayer live in our Reviews channel.