Samsung STB-E7500 review
Unlike subscription-based TV services like Sky or Virgin, there isn’t an official Freeview set-top box for recording all the shows you haven’t got time to watch when they go out live. That’s why there’s a huge market for products like Samsung’s STB-E7500, which is a 500GB Freeview HD PVR with enough room inside for 200 hours of standard definition video, or 124 hours of HD content. However, now that YouView has launched, see our YouView review, we’re interested to see whether Freeview PVRs still have a place.
The STB-E7500 is a great-looking set-top box, especially its front bezel, which is finished in glossy black. Apart from the single-line LCD display at the front and silver circular control dial on top, it’s something of a miniature monolith that should slot into any home cinema setup easily.
As well as twin aerial inputs at the back of the unit, the STB-E7500 has a single HDMI output, composite video, digital optical and phono audio outputs, Ethernet and a USB port for multimedia playback. There’s a Common Interface slot in the side for adding subscription-based TV services and it also has integrated Wi-Fi, meaning you can get online without having to run a cable from your router to the TV.
Once connected, you can use Samsung’s DNLA-compatible AllShare Play function to play your multimedia files directly from a networked PC or NAS device. We were able to play all our test files, including DivX HD, AVCHD and MKV videos. Also present is Smart Hub. It’s the same fully featured Smart TV portal that Samsung uses on its high-end TVs, so all the usual content providers are present. Beyond catch-up TV from BBC iPlayer, on-demand films from Netflix, LoveFilm, AceTrax and Boxoffice365 and streaming video from DailyMotion and YouTube, you also get access to the Samsung Apps store. This is filled with a plethora of weather, news and sports channels, as well as family friendly games and links.
Samsung’s Kids Zone, Fitness channel and Family Story are also here. The Fitness channel is clearly inspired by the Nintendo Wii, letting you monitor your calorie intake and BMI or exercise along to ondemand workout videos. Kids zone has plenty of child-friendly activities and educational games, and Family Story lets you share your digital camera photos with other Smart Hub users, which is great if another a family member with access to Smart Hub wants to see your latest holiday snaps.