Freeview – who makes what, and why it matters

Following on from my recent post about the various names of the Vestel T8300 HD receiver, Marc over at PVR Junction has helpfully sent a list of some of the other brands that have rebadged Vestel equipment for the UK, together with a link to an unofficial web site with more information.

So, these are the brands that have sold Vestel Freeview PVRs under their own name in the UK:

  • Akura
  • Alba
  • Bush
  • Digihome
  • Dual
  • Durabrand
  • Evesham
  • Ferguson
  • Goodmans
  • Grundig
  • Hitachi
  • Linsar
  • Logik
  • Luxor
  • Maplin
  • ONN
  • Proline
  • Sharp
  • Technika
  • Techwood
  • Wharfedale

As again, note that this doesn’t mean that everything with that badge on was made by Vestel; check the label on the bottom and see if any part of the model number corresponds to one of the Vestel ‘T’ numbers listed on the Futaura site.

Some companies will simply buy in what looks best at the time. For example, there has also been a Wharfedale PVR that was a rebadged TVonics, and while Goodmans and Grundig have used Vestel kit in the past, their current Freeview HD boxes are made by someone else, as far as I can tell – they certainly aren’t the Vestel T8300.

A big boy did it and ran away

On the subject of rebadging, you might think it’s just the second and third tier brands who do this sort of thing, while the big well known global companies diligently create shiny new products in their test labs.

That’s not the case. Sony’s SVR-S500 Freeview PVR wasn’t really a Sony product at all. It was a twin tuner recorder, with a miserly 80GB hard drive – though to be fair, it was released around four years ago.

Rather than being a Sony design, it was really a re-badged Digifusion FVRT200. And this is where things start to become curiouser and curiouser. The Digifusion was one of a few products that didn’t use the main Freeview programme guide. Instead, it relied on a channel which some people might remember, called 4TV. This was a data channel that seemed to do nothing most of the time, and if you watched it, you would think it was a waste of space.

What it actually did was broadcast a fourteen day programme guide in the middle of the night, which was stored by various devices, including the Digifusion models. Sony, for whatever strange reason of their own, cut the programme guide down to seven days on the SVR-S500, effectively meaning that you paid extra money to get a Sony badge on a Digifusion recorder, and had only eight days of EPG, rather than fourteen.

Fast forward to this year; 4TV is now InView, and they’ve announced that since the contract hasn’t been renewed for them to broadcast the programme guide, they’re stopping. So, if you have a Digifusion recorder, or the Sony clone (both were made by Beko, another Turkish firm), you’ll find that there isn’t a programme guide any more, making it much harder to schedule recordings.

Of course, a four year old Freeview recorder that can only record one thing at a time, and has just an 80GB hard drive sounds like pretty ancient technology now. But wouldn’t you think that if you paid for a big brand name like Sony, you wouldn’t be left with something that had vastly reduced functionality, just four years later?

3 Replies to “Freeview – who makes what, and why it matters”

  1. Actually the Digifusion can record two channels at once, while you watch an earlier recording. That is three things simultaneously.

    You can also re-arrange the channels in the order YOU want. you are not forced to scroll though channels you never watch to get something you want.

    It is sad that the 14 day EPG is dead. I wish that someone would come up with a new firmware to take advantage of the standard 7 day EPG.

  2. The DigiFusion FVRT100, 150 and 200 had twin tuners, quite a competent freeview recorder, upgrading the 100 with the 200 firmware added daily/weekly program scheduling. I have 2 upgraded FVRT100’s which have given me years of sterling service 🙁

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