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TVonics MDR-250: Freeview without a fuss

If you want to get an elderly relative converted to digital before the analogue switch-off, the TVonics MDR-250 could be the ideal machine to give a non-techie

It's sometimes hard for us techies to understand that there are still some people who don't know about the transition to digital TV. Or more importantly, still don't have the appropriate equipment ready for the digital switch-over. The good news is TVonics is thinking about these people, and the MDR-250 is aimed at some fairly specific individuals.

Firstly, this thing is really tiny. Not the smallest Freeview tuner in the world, but certainly very dinky indeed. The idea is it'll sit on top of a portable CRT TV, or can be hidden behind a larger screen. To this end, TVonics supplies a little remote repeater, which can be stuck to your TV to send the infrared signals to the box.

You also get a pair of Scart sockets, one of which goes to the TV, and the other can be plugged into a VCR, meaning recording is still possible, for those still using VHS. You also get RF loop-through, in case you want to connect another Freeview device.

At first glance, the remote control seems pretty chunky and clumsy. Indeed, it's almost bigger than the receiver itself. But it's clearly designed to be useful to older people, who might not have the dexterity of today's videogame generation. There are also large, clearly marked buttons for turning on subtitles and audio description -- again, brilliant for those with vision or hearing difficulties. The rest of the controller's buttons are also large and well separated from each other.

Everything you need is in the box, including a Scart cable, RF lead, IR extender and even some batteries for the remote. We understand this machine isn't for everyone, but for the elderly or people who don't want to upgrade their TV, it's ideal. The MDR-250 is priced at £50 and is widely available.