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Philips Freeview HD box fundamentally flawed

Philips DTR5520/05 freezes during regular use

Philips DTR5520/05 Freeview HD box

The Freeview HD DTR5520/05 set-top box from Philips has a fundamental glitch that prevents users from effectively selecting channels – although Philips says that a software fix is on its way.

The fault occurs when you try to select a channel to watch from the electronic programme guide (EPG). A question then appears on the screen asking whether you want to record, however the DTR5520/05 doesn’t have a recording function.

Freeview HD set-top box issues

The next step locks your TV on to the selected channel and doesn’t allow you to change it without switching off the DTR5520/05. This means that in its current state, users can only skip through channels using the up and down channel selector.

Find out more about the fault in our First Look review

The issue first became apparent to Which? researchers when a box was borrowed from Philips for a first look review. Which? always buys the products that it lab tests, but often borrows pre-production models to give its members an initial impression before the product launches.

Which? returned the box to Philips, explained the problems that were encountered and asked for a new box to be sent. However the replacement box showed the same usability issues that the first did. The DTR5520 box then became available to buy, so Which? returned the borrowed model and bought a model hoping that the issue had now been ironed out. Unfortunately, the issue remained.

Digital set-top box reviews

For help choosing the best set-top box check out our set-top box reviews

Philips has said that it is aware of the issue and that a over-the-air (OTA) upgrade will be available by the end of May. A message on the Philips website says: ‘The root cause of this problem has now been identified and Pace (the box manufacturer) is working to update the software to resolve the issue, as well as provide a number of other upgrades which will enhance users’ experience of the product’.

Which? advises owners of this product to keep an eye on the Digital TV Group’s download schedule, which lists forthcoming over-the-air upgrades. At the time of writing, the Philips upgrade is not listed in the two-week schedule.

Ben Stevens, senior Which? researcher, said: ‘While we can’t be sure how widespread this problem is, it’s disappointing that a product with such a fundamental flaw can be on the shop shelves and available to buy. There aren’t many Freeview HD set-top boxes available yet, and with many football fans hoping to watch the World Cup in HD this summer their demand will be rising’.

The Philips DTR5520 costs around £160. The only Freeview HD box that Which? has fully tested to date is the £150 Humax HD-Fox T2.

UPDATE: 21st July 2010

Despite keeping the DTR5520 plugged in at the Which? labs, the OTA upgrade was missed. Which? has now successfully upgrade the software of the box, which has ironed out the issues initially encountered. The box will be put through the next round of testing at the Which? lab, and results are scheduled to be online  for 8th October.

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