What’s in your FreeviewHD box?

There are quite a lot of Freeview HD boxes around these days, but did you realise quite how many of them are the same? And that one company is responsible for a huge number of the budget boxes?

Step forward Vestel, a large Turkish company that makes just about everything electrical that you can think of, even though you’ve probably never heard of them. They’ve been making boxes for Freeview for years, including plenty of Freeview+ recorders, and were also one of the first companies to pass the FreeviewHD certification tests, with their T8300 receiver. They work with Cabot Communications, a UK company that creates some of the software, like the interactive engine, so it’s not entirely a foreign affair.

You won’t find Vestel boxes on UK shelves under their own name, though. They manufacture kit that’s branded by other companies, often for their in-store brands, and sometimes even with the suggestion of Britishness. So, the Bush DVB-680, far from being the product of a once well-known UK brand is actually the Argos version of the Vestel T8300. The same is true of the Linsar FHDF1 sold by John Lewis. When Linsar says on their site “Linsar is a British company, manufacturing affordable technology” it really means “paying Vestel to make it for us.”

You’ll also find Vestel kit in stores like Tesco, Asda, and plenty of other places too. Many of the budget Freeview HD boxes around at the moment, including some on eBay, are the Vestel T8300, with each brand having a slightly different front panel.

How can you tell? One way is to look at the sticker on the bottom, with the model number, where you’ll see ‘T8300’ as part of the designation; another give-away is the on-screen displays, which all look like the Bush – you can see the EPG in my gallery here – and the only-its-mother-could-love-it remote control.

The other way you can find out which boxes are the Vestel T8300 is by keeping an eye on the software update page of the DTG website. As I write this, it lists a firmware update for the T8300, and helpfully lists all the models that covers. So here’s a handy list for you.

The Vestel T8300 is currently also known as:

  • Antiference HDSB
  • Bush DVB680
  • Digihome Freeview HD Box
  • Ferguson F02HD
  • Krystel DVBT2
  • Linsar FHDF1
  • Lowry GSHDTB1001
  • Luxor LUX-DVBT2-690
  • Metronic T2HD
  • Xenius DVB100HD
  • Finlux DVBT2665
  • Technika STVHDV2010

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that the T8300 is a bad box; it’s affordable, and also one of the very few that will produce a Dolby Digital output, though it lacks polish in other areas. But don’t be fooled by the marketing people into thinking that you’re somehow supporting a plucky British company against the big Japanese and Korean electronics giants.

It’s also worth pointing out that, just because some products under a particular brand are made by Vestel, that doesn’t mean they all are. Quite often a company will have different products in their range made by different people.

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