The free view T-Box is quite a good product with 3 tuners and a reasonable EPG. The only serious issue I have with it is that it is impossible to get synchronised 5.1 audio out. You have to choose between in-sync audio downmixed to stereo over HDMI, or full 5.1 audio over optical out that is slightly out of sync with the picture. Kind of a major oversight.
I'm really just documenting this here for anyone else having the same issues since I already have my answer from a support rep. I'm not complaining too strongly since I got the box free for 2 years when I signed up which gives me time to find a better replacement before I have to start paying for it if the issue doesn't get fixed.
Here is my original email to Telstraclear support:
I have a Freeview T-Box and have a problem with digital audio. My T-Box is connected to my TV via HDMI cable, and the audio is sent to a 5.1 channel HT receiver via optical cable.
Originally I had both audio and video sent to the TV over the HDMI cable, and the audio passed through from the optical digital out from the TV to the HT receiver. This works, except that 5.1 audio is not passed through - it is always only stereo. I believe this to be a fault in the T-Box since the same set up worked fine with my previous Freeview box which the T-Box is replacing.
Due to the inability to even view let alone modify any audio settings on the T-Box I eventually gave up and decided to route the audio directly from the optical digital out on the T-Box to the receiver. Now I get 5.1 surround sound again, but the audio is a fraction of a second ahead of the picture. Again, I believe this is a fault in the T-Box.
And their response:
Thanks for contacting us.
You are correct. Dolby is currently mixed down to 2 Channel Stereo on the HDMI Output. We are awaiting pricing and a plan to change the following:
• Allow selection of what audio is output over HDMI/Optical
• Allow to add delay to audio across HDMI and Optical
There is no ETA on when this will be implemented.
Apologies for the inconveniences caused during this time.