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Nokia 221T Vs Netgem I-Player - first impressions

Discussion in 'Satellite TV, Sky TV & FreeSat' started by cerebros, Jul 19, 2003.

  1. cerebros

    cerebros
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    After having tried an I-Player, which sorta died , and having found that John Lewis wouldn't be able to supply a replacement for weeks yet, the gf and I decided to get a different STB. The logical alternative considering my requirements was the Nokia 221T. This is a quick comparison of the two players. PLEASE NOTE, THIS SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AS AN IN DEPTH COMPARISON OF THE PLAYERS.
     
  2. cerebros

    cerebros
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    Unit

    On opening the 221T's box, impressions were more favourable than the I-Player. The unit, while still mostly plastic, feels a lot better put together than the I-Player.

    Neither unit takes my fancy design-wise, although I think I preferred the styling of the I-Player.

    The 221T has a nice metal backplate into which all the inputs and outputs are incorporated, and unlike the I-Player there's no play with the sockets when you're inserting a SCART.

    Unlike the I-Player, there's no hard On/Off button, but there is a Standby button and program up/down buttons - handy if you mis-place or lose the remote.

    Like the I-Player it's a twin SCART unit and has a bitstream out - SP/DIF (coax) as opposed to TosLink (optical) - with the same claim to support DD should the standard ever be approved for use with UK DTV (ooh, was that a flying pig I just saw). Anyway, Nokia seem confident enough in their claim to have the Dolby logo on their box. Just a shame there's no broadcasts to put it to the test.

    Rounding out the physical unit are the conditional access card slot (under a flap at the front) and a serial port, presumably for connecting to a PC or something. Arguably the I-Player wins out here, having a modem and USB port to expand its functionality.
     
  3. cerebros

    cerebros
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    Remote Controls

    The Nokia remote is awful, no two ways about it.

    While I always found the I-Player's to be strangely shaped, a bit too big (so that even I, someone with largeish hands, couldn't operate all buttons single-handedly), and the standby button in the right place to get pressed by accident, it's a work of art by comparison to the 221T's.

    The remote is useable by one hand with the number key buttons seemingly having been pinched from the mobile phone production line. While there's a logic of sorts to the grouping of the keys, the "txt" key is at the bottom o the remote, while the coloured fast-text keys are at the top.

    The main sins of the 221T's remote are the Mute and "0" keys. For some reason the red key at the top of the remote, which you'd assume would be the standby key, is the mute button. Yet underneath the white text of the word "mute", you can see a grey standby symbol.

    Meanwhile, it seems that the "0" key serves triple function as both a channel lock to avoid accidental channel changes, and the standby button, and presumably on occasion, as the "0" button.

    Never thought I'd say this, but the I-Player's remote is my prefered model out of the two.
     
  4. cerebros

    cerebros
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    OSG, Set-up and Options

    Set-up of the 221T was pretty straight forward. Plug in, take out of standby and away it goes. It had no problems finding all the channels both TV and Radio.

    Compared to the I-Player, the Nokia's on-screen graphics are rather ugly. While blue is my favourite colour, the two colour Navi-bar looks horrible, as does Nokia's version of the program information lower screen box.

    One good thing in the 221T's favour however, is that you can create custom lists of TV channels which you can access from the Navi-bar, handy if there are several people in your house with differing tastes, or for group channels into different categories. Naturally you can rearrange the order of the TV channels both in the custom lists and in the main All Channels list, but it seems you cannot create custom lists for Radio stations, or edit the channel order.

    The first thing I find I miss from the I-Player is the full screen Program Guide that you can use to see what's on several channels now or next. If the 221T has something like this, it's kept well hidden.

    Options wise the 221T is quite basic in comparison to the I-Player. Where the I-Player offers Component, RGB, S-Video and Composite output, the 221T gives you RGB and RF . You can't force it to just send Composite to your TV, which might be necessary depending on how you're having to route all your DVD/VCR/STB's SCART's. The RF modulator would come in handy if you have a pre-SCART TV, but on my set-up I was unable to tune it's output satisfactorily on either my VCR or TV, and wasn't going to spend hours trying to do so.

    If you're trying to figure out why your reception is bad, the Nokia is pretty primitive giving you only a visual signal bar, compared to the I-Player, which gives you sigal bar, signal quality, bit-error rate, and SNR readings
     
  5. cerebros

    cerebros
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    Viewing Experience

    From my viewing, I'd say that the 221T and I-Player are probably about equal in picture quality. I say probably because, pending nice new TV later in the year, I'm currently watching TV on a 14" portable, so only the most glaring artefacting shows up to the naked eye.
     
  6. cerebros

    cerebros
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    Summing Up

    On purely viewing terms, I don't think there's really much between the units. When it comes to features and expandability, the I-Player wins hands down over the utilitarian 221T, trumps its remote, and urinates from a great height over the 221T's UI.

    However, you can go into town and pick up a 221T off the shelf and be using it as soon as you can get home. At the moment it seems that I-Players are rarer than convincing Tory leadership candidates.

    If you're prepared to wait, get an I-Player. If you need something now, get the 221T. If I didn't need an STB now to overcome my crappy analogue reception problems, I'd be waiting out a replacement I-Player to come from John Lewis (well actually I probably wouldn't have bought a Freeview box in the first place). As it is, it seems that if I want to watch TV, for now I'm going to have to endure the yucky 221T UI. But if I'm looking to buy another STB in future, I'll certainly be keeping the I-Player at the top of my list.
     
  7. Origin

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    Cerebros:

    Before writing any more, please read the instruction manual for your 221T. From many of your comments, it's clear you haven't done this yet.

    You might find out that pressing and holding the Mute button turns off the unit.

    You might find out that the 0 key "unswitches" the AV switching signal to take you back to TV.

    You might find that you can make a custom Radio list.

    You might also find, unfortunately, all the software bugs on this unit! See my thread "Bug ridden Nokia 221T" a bit further down the list....

    Sorry!
     
  8. cerebros

    cerebros
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    I'm sorry, but that just goes to show what a complete pile of poo the remote is. Having the mute button also function as a power off button is completely counter-intuitive - as is the "0" button switching the AV - these are things that any well designed and thought out remote will devote dediated buttons to, not have them doubling up with other functions.

    And I did read the manual, but I must have missed the bit about the radio stations being custom listable.
     
  9. Origin

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    I agree, the remote is rubbish! After a couple of months with a new bit of kit, I can normally use its remote in complete darkness - I can easily find my way round my other remotes, but I'm struggling with the Nokia's.

    Does your 221T suffer from any of the bugs listed in my other thread? I'd be interested to know if I have a duff box or if everyone's does the same...

    Happy crashes ;-)
     
  10. nathan_silly

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    Not bothered with the quality of remote controls bundled in with the boxes (I have a TC1000 remote)

    So ignoring the remote, which box is the better model?
     
  11. cerebros

    cerebros
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    Personally I'd rather have the I-Player, I feel it's far better specified and the UI is a lot nicer to look at and use. The only things against it are the lightweight construction and the fact that Netgem seem unable to cope with demand for the units so getting hold of one in the first place means a wait - if you get a faulty unit you could be without watchable TV (sound & PQ wise anyway if you're using a DTV box cos your analogue reception is poor) for quite a while if you're trying to get a replacement I-Player.

    As I say, the only reason I'm using the 221T is because I want to watch TV now, not in a few weeks when Netgem finally ship new stock...
     

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