A decent buy, but not one that’ll tempt your wallet into the openWrite your own review
- Decent images on high-definition and standard-def
- outputs DD 5.1
- Unintuitive remote control
- thin sound
- limited features
Linsar's a substantial operation with UK-wide distribution through John Lewis stores.
So, you get a bona fide warranty and after-sales support, unlike some less-well known brands that have appeared on some shelves.
Admittedly, the Linsar isn't the most attractive set-top-box that you'll ever see but it's a perfectly solid device just the same.
Unfortunately the same can't be said for the box's remote control. We can see that effort has been made to try to make it stylish, but the elongated design and strange button placement don't make for a particularly enjoyable user experience.
The volume and channel-skipping buttons are long, rectangular and less than thumb-friendly.
The FHD1 includes an ethernet socket for connection to your network, and although there's no word as yet about on-demand support for streaming services, there's every chance that later in the year this model will get access to the likes of the BBC iPlayer, or any other service made available to the Freeview HD platform. Strangely, there's no USB input.
Move too fast and you'll stumble
So what of HD picture quality? On the whole, it delivers the goods.
The tuner delivers a reasonably crisp picture with an absence of background noise, but watch some fast-moving sport such as Channel 4 HD's horse racing and you'll see that the Linsar occasionally stumbles with motion.
Standard-definition broadcasts are okay too, although it's a shame that you can't totally bypass the internal video processing, unlike some closely priced rivals.
So, you can only set the HDMI output to deliver 576p, 720p, 1080i, or 1080p, which means that standard-def 576i TV broadcasts are automatically deinterlaced in the box.
Having said that, this isn't a problem exclusive to the FHD1 but this isn't ideal if your TV already has a good-quality deinterlacer built in.
It does output Dolby Digital 5.1
Sonically, the Linsar can't match the top performers available, which is a shame. Detail levels are half-decent, but the overall audio presentation is one that's thin and weak, lacking any real substance or weight.
On the plus side, it's one of the few new Freeview HD set-top boxes that does transcode the multichannel AAC sound on BBC Freeview HD broadcasts to output Dolby Digital 5.1, so you'll get proper surround sound if you hook it up via the optical digital connection to your home cinema amp (more details here).
Overall, the Linsar puts in a perfectly respectable showing, but the harsh truth is that there are newer, more viable alternatives on the shelves.