Sagem has produced a neat line in affordable set-top boxes and its most recent, the ITD72, adds Top Up TV capability for some extra functionality.

It looks much like Sagem's previous efforts: a small, slim, grey plastic box with a small black plastic panel on the front. The Top Up TV slot sits on the underside of the box, while the back panel houses two Scarts (one RGB capable for TV viewing),plus RF in and out sockets.

It automatically scans for the channels during first time use, but to rescan the box when new Freeview channels are added, you must go through the main menu using a pin code (the default is 1234).

The IDT72's signal was stable across all the channels, so interference and artefacting were practically nonexistent. Colours remained bright but naturalistic, whether watching movies, soaps or pop videos. The only snag with the image quality was a tendency to shimmering, particularly with fast movement.

The receiver's menus are attractive and easy to navigate while the EPG is similarly well laid out.

You can record to a VCR, but you have to adjust the box's picture settings to switch off RGB. This causes the recorded picture's quality to dip slightly, but it still matched up to the now non-RGB signal from the box pretty well. The box has a timer facility, which allows you to trigger external recorders to record automatically. You have to set this up via the box's menu, which is a slight irritation.

To get the best out from the audio, you need to crank up the setting on the box well past the half way mark via the chunky remote, otherwise even undemanding material like sitcoms will sound too quiet. There's a seven-day EPG and you can also set up a favourites list.

If you want digital TV, and the option of accessing extra pay channels without splashing out a fortune, the ITD72,while not totally perfect, represents a reasonable first step in the digital direction. Nicola Veness