With so many Freeview digital terrestrial receivers on the market, manufacturers are having to add value to distinguish their wares from the competition's. We've seen set-top boxes with internet connectivity, DVD playback, even a hard-disk drive for digital recording of TV programmes.
The ITD66 from French company Sagem offers something a little bit different - a built-in card reader for displaying digital photos on your TV. A slot on front of the distinctive little unit accepts CompactFlash cards directly, and an adaptor that will allow other formats to be read is supplied.
Popping the card into the slot will automatically switch the ITD66 into photo mode - images are displayed as thumbnails, for selection as full-screen images. They can also be rotated, or displayed as a slideshow. Picture quality is good, within the constraints of the British video standard - don't expect megapixel detail!
Switching between TV/radio reception and photos is easy. But displaying pics is all the reader is good for. It won't play MP3 files, nor can you use the memory capacity for recording radio programmes or snippets of TV shows. DigiFusion uses a modest amount of onboard memory to provide a TV instant replay facility. Perhaps Sagem might be considering adding such functionality in the future.
So that's the photo half of the equation - what about the TV side? On the rear panel are two Scarts for TV and video. Ranged alongside these are 3.5mm stereo analogue and coaxial digital audio outputs. Note that no UHF modulator is offered - owners of pre-Scart TVs are advised to look elsewhere!
Connect the ITD66, power it up for the first time and an autoinstall routine is initialised. This will seek out the radio and TV channels available from your local multiplexes. Unfortunately, only Freeview is catered for - the ITD66 doesn't make any concessions to Top Up TV's subscription services (there's no built-in conditional-access module or common-interface slot).
Unfortunately, our review unit locked on to the wrong multiplexes and as a result some stations were at the wrong end of the channel list (thankfully, the favourite-channel lists offered a work-around).
In addition, it failed to find the correct BBC News 24 in our location. The only one stored was too weak for reliable reception.
Our unit was a pre-production sample, and hopefully our experiences can be put down to that. In terms of picture and sound quality, the ITD66 puts up a good fight - the ultimate limiting factor, in our opinion, is the quality of the broadcasts.