Whatever's going on inside the Goodmans GDB9, it's not great on the outside.
The silver and black styling gives it a dated faux-high-tech look, and the illuminated channel controls in the centre are designed to be a focal point, but end up making it look tacky.
It also feels a little plasticky, but it is slim enough to slot into your system without much hassle.
The rear panel sports the usual array of sockets, with a pair of Scart outputs taking centre stage, RF input/output, a electrical digital output for hooking up to an AV receiver and a USB port, which inevitably is for service use only.
The 'TV' Scart offers a choice of RGB and composite output (selectable in the setup menu) while the 'VCR' Scart offers composite, which again will give you lower quality recordings than if you were using an RGB feed.
Setting up the unit couldn't be simpler. Power it up and the initial setup screen presents the aspect ratio options and starts channel tuning, which found all the channels ﬁrst time.
The main menu is simple and attractive, using cute icons and clear text. From here you can edit favourites lists or channels, search for the latter and change the unit's basic settings.
The seven-day EPG strays from the common timeline layout in favour of a channel by channel approach, showing a list of six programmes at a time. It's smartly designed and makes it easy to switch days, view different channels and set reminders. The scrolling programme synopsis in the corner is a nice touch, but we prefer the general overview that the timeline arrangement allows.
The remote has a silver background making it quite attractive, but small buttons and a cluttered layout make it tricky to use.
There are separate controls for the favourite channels list, and Audio Description, picture size
adjustments and pause features can also be accessed. Goodmans has been thoughtful enough to put a slip of paper in the box explaining why it's not the same as pausing live TV.
Other standard features include subtitles, digital text, interactive access and OTA software upgrades.
Bold picture performance
The Goodmans GDB9 proves itself to be a very competent picture provider, even making tripe such as The Alan Titchmarsh Show on ITV1 look good.
It's a whizz with colours, delivering the bold, bright hues of Alan's pukeworthy sets with no banding or edge bleed, and the image looks fairly detailed to boot.
It's not perfect by any means, with some smudgy noise on show, but it's no worse than most rival boxes.