Selling for a penny short of £100 in Argos, the Bush DVB680 represents the most affordable way to get HD without a subscription.
Unsurprisingly for a budget brand, the build quality and design are nothing to get overexcited about. The power supply is an external one, which at least means the internal electronics don't require a cooling fan.
The fascia bears just three control buttons: on/off and channel up/down, so don't let the remote go AWOL. There's no doubting which channel is tuned in with a four-digit red LED display of laser-like intensity. Sadly, there's no CI slot front or back, but the rear connections tick the boxes for hooking up to an HD Ready TV and a 5.1 Dolby Digital sound system.
One Scart provides for standard-definition viewing or recording standard-definition channels on a DVD or hard disc recorder. An Ethernet port is provided but it's not the gateway to a world of internet TV you might expect, though it could find a use once Project Canvas gets off the ground.
Scan it and see
Installation is as easy as it gets. You select your screen shape and choose the HDMI output resolution (576p, 720p, 1080i or 1080p), then initiate the auto scan. Two minutes later and you're watching HD on BBC, ITV or Channel 4 (assuming you live in an HD area with decent signal strength, that is).
The menu system, whilst nicely laid out, has an uninspiring interface and suffers from slow reactions, lacking the slickness and clarity of Humax's HD-Fox T2.
The remote control is, at 91g, worryingly light and whilst generally laid out OK it crams some functions onto ugly rubber pads.
All the information you need is available in the seven-day EPG except some channel names are truncated. Also, there's no PIP or overlaying so you have to exit the current broadcast.
There are plenty of options for filtering channels, repositioning and renaming them, and creating a list of favourites. Pressing the info button during a broadcast gives you rudimentary details about the current and next programme, but there's no programme description and no scrolling through the seven-day data.
For power saving there are numerous auto-off settings between ten minutes and three hours, as well as an off setting. Note that the box powers itself up every day at 3am to check for software updates.
The most annoying trait of our test sample was its tardiness in switching on – a 30-second process that saw the letters 'init' displayed.
The gulf between standard-definition pictures and HD ones is breathtaking at times, and we don't mean the majority of ITV and Channel 4 material, which is simply upscaled SD.
Switching from ITV to ITV1 HD with live football is like seeing the road again after being in a carwash. The BBC's HD channel is consistently high quality too, and is unarguably superior even on a 32in screen.
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