Basic use

The channel list can be sorted alphabetically, by satellite or by encryption status (again, somewhat redundant here). It's easy to place channels into one or more of the eight renamable favourites lists – another handset button cycles through the lists. The last-viewed channel can be recalled at the touch of a button, too.

EPG

The EPG displays now-and-next and seven-day schedules for one channel at a time with synopses and can be used to program the eight-event timer. Teletext is available, as are subtitles and audio soundtrack selection.

Other features are sparse. Among them are a radio mode, 3x3 mosaic of adjacent channels, a potent picture zoom, calculator, calendar and simple 'Gomoku' game.

Performance

One should not expect cutting-edge performance from a system like this, and, indeed, even basic searches were ponderously slow. However, AV performance – via RGB Scart – was surprisingly good.

Switching between channels was also faster than expected. At just over a second, the 28208ALD is faster than some far more expensive receivers.

When it's not 'on the move', this receiver could be used to convert an old CRT TV set for digital – provided, of course, that a LNB feed is available. As metioned, the selection of horizontally polarised channels (which rely on a higher LNB voltage) proved erratic on occasions – a sample fault, we trust.

The dish also worked well, considering its diminutive design. Thanks to the wider beamwidth of smaller dishes, it's easier to locate a satellite. In fine weather all key services from Hot Bird (13°E), Astra 1 (19.2°E) and Astra 2 (28.2°E) were received. Reception deteriorated during a shower; channels would periodically freeze or stutter.

Verdict

A 35cm dish will be too small for reliable reception of Astra 2/ Eurobird-delivered UK channels in most of Europe, although the delights of Astra 1 and Hot Bird will ensure that viewers won't go without.

For all its limitations, it can't be denied that this system is a bargain.

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