The DVR-320T packaging is simple and unexciting. I was a bit amused that the people on the packaging are holding remotes that differ from the one in the box (completely different button layout) but this is hardly a relevant detail. The actual printed information on the box seemed accurate and to the point.
Apart from the unit the remove and some batteries the box also included a component and a composite cable. For better image quality I would strongly recommend using the component cable (or an HDMI cable if you have only lying around).
Previously I was using another JCMatthew product: the DVBTB01. The TB01 was just a Freeview|HD receiver that has the ability to record to a hard drive connected to its frontal USB port while the DVR-320T is what we call a MyFreeview|HD product.
After setting everything up (very straightforward as all the ports are clearly labeled) I unplugged the UHF antenna from my old receiver and plugged it into the new one. I then started the unit and let it scan for channels. To my surprise the unit failed to tune in all the channels that its predecessor had no problems with. I was completely unable to see TV3, TV3 Plus 1 and C4. I tried scanning manually, I tried to fix the plug but to no avail. I plugged the antenna back into the old box and everything was okay.
At this point I went outside and checked my antenna and I noticed that it was not only old but also a little bit... broken. Still... the old box didn't seem to mind it at all.
My conclusion was that the tuners in the new box were more sensitive than the ones in the old unit. So I decided to email JCMatthew directly and ask them for their opinion and I also asked Freeview (via Mauricio) for help.
I have to say I was impressed with how responsive everyone was. JCMatthew replied to my email and confirmed that the two units were being manufactured in different factories and told me that the new unit should not be any more sensitive than the old unit. The response included suggestions and an offer to swap the unit if everything else should fail (which I thought was very nice of them). The other call for help resulted in Freeview sending Alistair from Scottstv to check my set-up.
In one word Alistair was awesome! It was obvious to him that the antenna was in really poor shape and that it had a big impact on the quality and strength if my signal. (He also had tools and gadgets to measure all this stuff). He replaced the antenna with a new one (which I thought was even smaller than what I used to have), changed the cable (15 years old...) and plugged everything in. I reset to unit to its factory defaults and let it scan. I was doubtful but also wrong: the unit tuned into every single freeview channel and even more, when we went into manual mode to check the signal quality we saw an incredible 99% on the screen! That was up from 38% that the old unit used to report.
Thanks to this "unfortunate" situation I did discover that the menus are very simple, intuitive and responsive. I also learned that an old antenna/cable can have a major impact on what a receiver is able to do. But probably the most important discovery was how good and responsive JCMatthew and Freeview were.
In the next post I will talk about the DVB-320T's menus and usability.
About the author: Nick Parfene was born in Romania and emigrated to NZ in 2005. He is a consultant for a Wellington based IT company 4 days a week and spends most of his spare time building mobile solutions for a small start-up called Tmro. He adores his partner and his Goddaughter, loves playing adventure games on his PS3, sports, sci-fi, animals (has a dog called Haiduc) and travelling. He is slowly being drawn into the field of photography but has no regrets. You can follow Nick via his Twitter account @nicktmro or his blog http://www.tmro.net/blog.
Other related posts:
Other features of MyFreeview|HD JCMatthew DVR-320T
Using the MyFreeview|HD JCMattew DVR-320T
Introducing Nick Parfene reviewing the JCMatthew DRV-320T
Comment by psycik, on 23-Nov-2009 11:20
Interesting that it doesn't come with an HDMI cable. Seems a bit stingy. I got the impression the other reviewers had HDMI cables included in the box.
Comment by nicktmro, on 23-Nov-2009 15:49
Although it doesn't come with an HDMI cable I believe you should still be able to get HD signal into your TV using the component cable. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Component_video
I can see 5.1 sound being a problem though...
Comment by pebbles, on 24-Nov-2009 12:22
Mine didn't have a cable either psycik, I just have one lying around which worked out well.