We recently had a look at, and were quite impressed with, the DT-720 standard definition set top box from Australian company Mediastar. The HDT-1100 is the high definition offering from the same firm.
- Easy setup and install
- Not visually appealing, tower form factor, overly large channel plate
The HDT-1100 does the job, but a rather cheap look and feel detract from the overall package.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
For some unknown reason, the HDT-1100 ships with a small stand, designed to place the unit in an upright position (think tower) rather than a traditional VCR form factor. We find this strange as set top boxes are predominantly used in the lounge room and not many other appliances are placed vertically this way. The logo and controls are angled in such a way however, that the unit can be used without the stand and placed flat. The LED can also be 'rotated' (in store) so that it displays horizontally, rather than vertically.
In the looks department, the best we can say about this model is that it is functional. The silver and black styling is fairly standard these days, but the finish is of an inferior quality, giving the whole unit a rather cheap look. Similar to the DT-720, there are very few controls on the front of the panel - only channel, volume and power buttons. All other functions have to be accessed using the remote.
We connected the HDT-1100 to our Toshiba 62 inch DLP using a component cable and in a few minutes had the system menu displayed onscreen. We liked the menu on the DT-720 because it was easy to use and understandable. The menu on the HDT-1100 is not as intuitive though, and you will need to refer to manual in order to work out the different functions. Although we found the manual to be very helpful, we also noticed that for some reason it didn't cover off all the functions of the unit.
The HDT-1100 picked up both digital television and digital radio channels in a few minutes using the Quick Scan functions. On all other units we have seen, pressing the 'Menu' button usually displays the system menus on a blue, black or grey background. With this model though, the menu is simply superimposed on whatever channel you are watching. We didn't particularly like this, as sometimes it was difficult to clearly see what we were selecting. You can however, change this setting using the 'Transparency' function in the preferences, which will display the menus on a standard coloured background.
The program guide on this model was excellent. Channels were listed on the right hand side and a small preview box of the current channel on the left. Scrolling up and down would change the preview, while using the left and right arrow keys on the remote displayed the next program coming up. In this screen, you can also set up reminders to watch a program, and a small reminder box will popup onscreen 10 seconds before the program is due to start.
We quite liked the channel plate information on the DT-720. It was informative, easy to understand and displayed discreetly at the bottom of the screen. Unfortunately, the channel plate on this unit doesn't make as good use of real estate and takes up almost half of the screen, obscuring the picture to a significant degree. The length of time that the plate is displayed can be toggled in the preferences. Pressing the Info button the remote control at any time also displays the channel plate, and pressing it again displays detailed information about the current programs.
Like the DT-720, users can setup a list of favorite channels to watch - or in this case two lists. This was simple to do and pressing the 'Favorites' button on the remote displayed this list onscreen. The HDT-1100 also has a Picture in Picture (PiP) function, that allows you to display another channel in a small box on the screen. On this unit however, we could only use PiP for similarly grouped channels because it lacks twin tuners. For example, if we were watching ABC HD, we could only use PiP to display other ABC channels. This isn't very helpful if, for example, you want to watch the cricket (on channel 9) while you watch ABC news. Additionally, you cannot change the channel when PiP is activated, as pressing the arrow keys simply moves the channel box to different areas of the screen.
For parents, the HDT-1100 allows you to block certain programs based on their rating. For example, after accessing the system menu, you can set the unit to block all programs that have an 'MA rating or above'. To view these channels, you then have to input a password.
The remote control for this model is very different to the DT-720 and we found it to be much simpler. In addition to the PiP, Favorites and Info buttons, users can also change the aspect ratio, vertical formation, aux settings and freeze live television.
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