A high definition journey

Unpacking and Installing the Zinwell ZMT-640 PVR

, posted: 6-Oct-2009 13:24

The Zinwell ZMT-640 PVR unit that I received to review comes in a reasonably plain box with the standard red Freeview banner around it. The packaging is easy to get into meaning it can be retained for future safe storage and transport of the unit.

An HDMI cable is supplied, if you have an LCD or Plasma TV chances are it will have an HDMI socket and using this method of connection will yield the best results. If your TV doesn’t have an HDMI socket you can use the included composite video lead (with the yellow, red and white plugs on each end) but the picture quality won’t be anywhere near as good. There is a short (10cm) TV aerial lead supplied which you need to connect between 2 of the connectors on the rear of the unit, as indicated in the manual. Connect the lead from your aerial to the other aerial connector on the rear of the unit. Plug in the power, put the supplied batteries in the remote and you are away!

On pressing the power button for the first time the unit comes to life and after a short wait you are prompted on your TV screen to run through the setup of the unit. This only requires a few simple acknowledgements (made easiest by using the remote) and then the unit scans all available channels and stores them ready for use. Unlike the auto program feature on most TVs, another advantage of Freeview is the channels are saved in the correct order on the right channel number buttons eg TV1 is number 1 on the remote, C4 is number 4 on the remote, a very nice surprise!

The unit is now ready for use after a very simple series of steps. The above detail is probably a little longwinded but rest assured, this unit is far easier to install and get going than any video player I have ever had to deal with!

The Zimwell does take a short while to be ready to use when you power it up each time, much like a computer. This wait is however minimal, in the vicinity of 15s. I was impressed to notice that the unit changed its clock automatically for daylight savings time last weekend, another simple innovation that saves a couple of minutes of frustration and also saves any recordings being missed due to the time being set wrong.

Coming next is a guide to using some of the great features of the unit. Pausing live TV, scheduled recording and viewing the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) which tells you what programs are going to be on in the coming days, just to name a few.

About the author: Scott Palmer works in the emergency services field at a large industrial site south of Auckland and has previous experience in consumer electronics retail and IT distribution. As a shift worker he has plenty of time at home to watch TV but the shows he wants to watch inevitably aren’t on at a time he is able to sit down and watch them. Scott is looking forward to putting the MyFreeview|HD DTR through its paces and providing useful commentary to the readers of this blog.



Introducing Scott Palmer, second MyFreeview|HD reviewer

, posted: 24-Sep-2009 11:26

When I was approached by Mauricio from Geekzone a few months ago regarding trialling a MyFreeview|HD Digital Television Recorder (DTR) I jumped at the opportunity.

I have eagerly followed the progress of Freeview in New Zealand through its deployment, commissioning, public launch, new channel additions and marketing endeavours. Freeview has come a long way in its few years of existence and is providing a significantly improved replacement of our long-serving free to air analogue TV service (which will cease to exist in a few years.)

There are a number of terms incorporating the word “Freeview” which will be used through this blog, these are the main ones in a language I hope you can understand:

Freeview – The overall umbrella name for New Zealand’s new digital free to air TV service. This service is replacing analogue TV and is provided via both satellite and land based transmitters;

Freeview|HD – The service provided by the land based transmitters. This service provides a higher quality picture than is provided by the satellite service;

MyFreeview|HD Digital Television Recorder (DTR) – A “black box” which looks like a DVD player that you plug into your TV. You have to have one of these boxes to make the MyFreeview|HD magic happen.

Freeview have secured a wide range of channels including all the current free to air channels (TV ONE, TV2, TV3, C4, etc) plus many more channels which cater to a wide variety of interests. Prime was recently added to the lineup, an absolutely essential inclusion that took a while to appear. There has also been innovation in the form of TV3 PLUS 1, a channel which replays everything that appears on TV3 with a 1 hour delay (for example, the 6pm news is on TV3 PLUS 1 at 7pm). Full details of the channel line up can be found here on Freeview’s website.

The digital nature of the Freeview signal means that the picture quality is a significant improvement over analogue TV and the quality is consistent. Freeview|HD is not only a digital signal but a higher resolution picture, though this resolution does vary from channel to channel and program to program. To give you an idea, the difference between watching analogue TV and Freeview|HD is comparable to the difference in picture quality between watching a movie off a video tape versus watching a movie off a DVD (the specifications of your TV will dictate the quality of the picture you see).

The ability to be able to sit down and choose what I want to watch from the coming weeks scheduled programs is the main attraction of MyFreeview|HD for me. I want to be able to watch what I want to watch, when I want to watch it. I am not usually home when the shows I want to watch are on (Murphy’s law!) and when I am home and want to watch TV, I usually struggle to find something I want to watch. The addition of a DTR to my TV setup solves this problem. The DTRs also have the ability to record one channel while you watch another for those times when you have two programs you want to watch being broadcast at the same time!

Overall, the MyFreeview|HD proposition is a very enticing one. Great picture quality, more channels, the ability to easily schedule programs to record without having to muck around with video tapes or blank DVDs, the ability to record one channel and watch another, the list goes on! I’m off to set up my DTR, details to follow shortly ...

About the author: Scott Palmer works in the emergency services field at a large industrial site south of Auckland and has previous experience in consumer electronics retail and IT distribution. As a shift worker he has plenty of time at home to watch TV but the shows he wants to watch inevitably aren’t on at a time he is able to sit down and watch them. Scott is looking forward to putting the MyFreeview|HD DTR through its paces and providing useful commentary to the readers of this blog.





What is this blog about?

Welcome to MyFreeview|HD Review! It’s almost like a “reality show” online. For the next four weeks we are going to follow three people experiencing high-definition digital TV, recording their experiences with three different MyFreeview|HD devices. This blog is sponsored by Freeview but the blog posts are by no means influenced by the company. Here is how it works: I had to chose three people from the Geekzone community to try and report their experiences with the devices, broadcast quality and anything else related to using the service. So I found my three candidates and each received a different model, courtesy of Freeview. Here are the reviewers: Suzi Heath (Magic TV 3500 DTR), Tony Hughes (Homecast HT9200DTR), Scott Palmer (Zinwell ZMT-640 PVR), and Nick Parfene (JCMatthew DVT-320T).

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