Like most set top boxes we've seen so far, the Hydef GR3200T is pretty plain looking. The silver rectangular unit measures 338 x 64 x 246mm and has a green display panel on the front that shows the current channel number or time. The front panel has few buttons that are well spread out and include Menu, Enter, Exit, Channel Up/Down.
The remote control, while looking slightly old-fashioned, is laid out well, doesn't contain too many buttons and is easy to use. Special function buttons on the remote include Favourite, Freeze, Quick [channel change], Subtitle (closed captions) and Info.
The rear of unit houses all of the connections you'll need to get a widescreen high definition (HD) or standard definition (SD) digital picture onto your living room television. To get a signal into the Hydef set top box, you'll need an RF cable to plug in from the antenna socket in your wall to the back of the GR3200T. There is an RF loop out socket so you can extend the antenna signal out to your TV if you want to watch analogue channels on your TV as well.
If you have a television capable of displaying HD pictures (most LCD and plasma models allow this), you'll want to opt for this output. The GR3200T has two HD connection types: component (YPbPr) and VGA (for use with a computer monitor or HDTVs equipped with VGA input). For conventional televisions, SD outputs are available through composite video output, S-Video and component (YPbPr or RGB). However, if you are not interested in high definition, you should opt for a dedicated SD set top box and save a couple of hundred bucks. For firmware upgrades, the unit also includes a RS-232 port serial port.
For audio, there are two stereo RCA audio outputs to connect to your TV and/or home theatre system. However, if you have a home theatre system or amplifier with a coaxial or optical input, use the digital audio connection to deliver Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
Swtiches on the back of the unit control the HD output resolution, which can be set to 576p, 720p, 1080i, and 1152i.
The Hydef unit performed exceptionally well during our tests. It is quick to change channels, the menu system is very responsive and stable and it didn't freeze once in our test period -- unlike the Toshiba SD-25.
Menu structure is uncomplicated and navigation is simple. Aspect ratio, screen positioning and audio options can easily be changed here. The clock can be set enabling you to sleep/wake up the machine at specified times.
Pressing Info on the remote instantly brings up the program schedule showing the name of the current and next show, the digital format (HD/SD), classification (G, PG, M, MA15+, etc) and the program's running time. Pressing Info a second time gives an overview of the current program.
We found the GR3200T has a tendency to run a little hot, especially if you've had it switched on for a long time (like most people do in their living rooms). While it's not a scalding temperature we recommend being careful what you place under the set top unit and give it as much ventilation space as possible.
All up we find this simple set top box to be a good contender to other (more expensive) HD set top boxes on the market.