With a more capable Scart lead connected, the GiGo gave a significantly improved picture, without the image distortion that we saw previously. We think the machine should have either a component or HDMI output to obtain the best quality, but that's a plea that's likely to go unanswered.
Even without a high-quality cable, we still noticed a distinct patterning to the picture that was mildly distracting when we sat close to the TV. We were also unimpressed by the quality of the Scart sockets on the machine, which seemed somewhat reluctant to accept any Scart lead at all.
The main blessing of the GiGo, however, is that you don't actually have to watch your recordings back on it. For example, you could plonk the USB card in a media streamer and use that to watch your recordings. The quality will be much better, and there'll be no more worrying about Scart connectors. A Western Digital WD TV or Popcorn Hour A-110 would make short work of these MPEG-2 files, so there are plenty of options for playback.
During our testing we discovered one slight problem. We recorded an episode of Desperate Housewives onto a memory stick and attempted to play it back with the VLC 1.0 media player on a Windows XP machine. VLC couldn't play the file, however, despite having no problems with other GiGo recordings. We also tested the file with Windows Media Player and PowerDVD, both of which were able to play it. We've spoken to Digital Vision about this, and its engineers are looking into the problem. It's almost certainly not a hardware problem, and more likely to be an issue with the Channel 4 transport stream.
Ideal for the train
Commuting is utterly soul-destroying, as anyone who has ever tried it will attest. Morning after godforsaken morning, you cram yourself into stinking metal tubes that rumble ponderously over strips of ancient metal. You can reduce the tedium, however, by playing recordings made via your GiGo on your laptop or other portable device. But, because the MPEG-2 files that the GiGo spits out aren't directly compatible with all portable media players, we'd urge you to check that yours can play them before you invest.
If your PMP can play MPEG-2 files, or you're a computer user with apps like PowerDVD or VLC, you should have no problem watching back recordings. What better way to pass the time on a slow journey to work than with yesterday's instalment of The Jeremy Kyle Show?
Who's the GiGo aimed at?
There are two distinct areas in which the GiGo excels. The first is as a simple Freeview set-top box for any old analogue TV. The Scart sockets mean that hooking it up to an older TV won't be a problem. If you've got an old TV and want to get it ready for digital, there's nothing wrong with the GiGo. Its sturdy EPG and chunky remote are likely to make it popular with people who want a reliable box without any fuss.
The second group of people likely to be interested in this box are more technology-focused users who want a way to record Freeview straight to a memory card and then to a hard disk. Simply put: despite its cheap construction and fairly ugly design, this little machine has plenty to offer people with home media centres. The recorded streams are compatible with a host of computer applications, which means integration with something like Windows Media Centre shouldn't be a problem.
If you like hardware that looks and feels like a million dollars, the Digital Vision GiGo really isn't for you. If you're looking for a Freeview PVR that records to USB memory cards and does a jolly good job, we think you'll be pretty pleased with it.
Please note that, at the time we published this review, the GiGo wasn't Freeview+ certified or capable of the functions that come with that service. We've been told by Digital Vision, however, that a firmware upgrade will make that functionality possible in the near future.
Edited by Charles Kloet