When ITV Digital imploded back in April 02, users unable to get satellite or cable were left with without the option of receiving pay-for TV channels. That was until Top Up TV sprung up earlier this year, offering a selection of channels including E4 and the Discovery Channel for a low monthly fee.

The catch? You needed an old ITV Digital box to decode the programmes – or at least until now. The Thomson DTI2300 is the first new DTT (digital terrestrial television) box to support Top Up TV.

The old ITV Digital boxes were pretty hard to come by, unless you were skilled in the ways of eBay. They were also pretty slow, didn’t handle digital text very well and hadn’t been updated since long before ITV Digital’s collapse. With the Thomson DTI2300, Top Up TV users can now join the next generation of DTT users – in theory at least.

The DTI2300 isn’t a bad box, especially compared to an old ITV Digital receiver, but it isn’t that great either. And when you consider that you can pick up a bog-standard model for around £50, you’d expect an extra £30 to get you more than just a card slot.

The remote control is adequate, but some button assignments are annoying. For example, the Up key brings up the Now and Next programme information, but if you want more information you have to press the yellow button. This is situated far enough away that you’ll probably need to look at the remote to find it.

The interface could also be improved. When you change programmes it displays a banner with the channel name, but doesn’t show the Now and Next information by default, requiring an additional key pressing.

One particularly annoying feature we found was that after a software upgrade, the box lost its time setting and refused to display the electronic programme guide until this was fixed. After finding the setting buried in the menu system, there was an option to set it automatically. This made us wonder, why couldn’t the box have done this itself?

If you want Top Up TV, the DTI2300 is infinitely better than an old ITV Digital box, but if you’re just after a DTT decoder there are cheaper and better models available.

  • Thomson: www.thomson-europe.com
  • £80 inc VAT

  • Build quality: 7/10
  • Features: 8/10
  • Value for money: 7/10