DTH services are slowly phasing out standard cable TV, that has reigned supreme for the past decade or so. A lot of the major brands in India such as Reliance, Tata, Airtel have launched their DTH services that come with a slew of instruments over standard cable TV. Slowly but surely, these DTH services are expanding throughout the length and the breadth of the country. A while back we saw the Airtel DTH HD and the Reliance BIG TV, that offered direct to home services such as HD content along with the ability to record content onto the internal drive. We recently got the Airtel DTH HD Recorder in our labs and it came packed with a lot of features including ability to playback 1080i content, 7.1 Dolby surround sound and MPEG4 playback capabilities. Read on to find out how it fared.
The directional buttons
Design and Build Quality
Owing to the inbuilt 320GB HDD, the HD Recorder has a slightly bigger footprint than its cousin we reviewed earlier, the Airtel DTH HD. It comes in an all black design with a silver lining at the bottom, just above the control buttons. It’s got plastic overalls but none that are creaky and considering it’s just going to sit their minding its own business, there’s not much to complain about. The face of the STB features the Airtel branding along with the directional keypad and the playback controls. The top has a metallic finish and the vents on the top as well as the sides allow for heat dissipation.
The ports at the back
As far as connectivity options are concerned, the STB comes with a USB port, HDMI, Ethernet, S/PDIF, component video out, audio and video out along with the antenna in and out ports. The bundled remote has added recording buttons along with the common options for menu, iTV, favourites etc. Overall, the design is pretty conventional and will easily complement the look of your TV.
Slim and responsive
Airtel has vastly improved upon the interface of their STB, which is definitely a welcome addition. The interface is neatly segregated into different categories which makes you manouever and sift through the various channels with ease. Adding favourites, changing settings and setting up the recorder is a fairly easy job as well. Infact, all the user needs to do is click on the record option on his remote to start the recording. The on screen interface allows scheduling and deleting of recordings. The interface is predominantly black and all the options are in tabs. The universal remote helps in eliminating the usage of two remotes to operate the TV and the STB, which is another plus. The interface also allows you to preview channels by simply scrolling through the various channels in the menu settings, so you can quickly see what’s on air.
Recording options well covered
As far as the cons are concerned, the dreaded advertisements do creep in but with time we managed to overlook them and go about our manouevering without much hassle.
The big Airtel watermark still exists though and sadly there’s no option to disable it. Though the remote is quite responsive, it does face the slight lag that most infrared transmitters and receivers have. Overall, the interface is smooth, neat and easy on the eye; functionality wise, you won’t get lost either as each tab and feature is well labelled.
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