Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Battle of the Boxes

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Battle of the Boxes

Article excerpt

Byline: ASHLEY NORRIS;DEBBIE BARHAM

Smart boxes can put the net on your TV, but is it worth it?

Ashley Norris and Debbie Barham become square-eyed surfers for the day

The On Net

box SO there you are watching Dale Winton, when, all of a sudden, he reads out an email address. Do you (a) switch off, retreat to your study, boot up your PC and tell him how right he is, or (b) stay slumped on the sofa because it's not worth the hassle? With ONDigital's OnNet box, newly available for any TV, such dilemmas are a thing of the past.

Not only can you email through your TV, you can surf the net - ideal for the slow bits in Merchant Ivory films, or even for hopping to Tesco.com if those KitKat adverts make you a tad peckish.

This paperback-sized gadget is remarkably easy to install (one cable in the telly, one in the phone socket; even Jim Royle could figure that out), while a five-minute registration process leaves you free to surf. You use a wireless keyboard - it worked a treat, even from the far end of my living room.

The OnNet homepage offers selected sites from shopping, banking and games to TV listings.

To access an unlisted page, type in its address: you must connect using the OnNet ISP ([pound]8 per month, plus local call charges).

More mentally agile couch potatoes can even "multitask" and browse the net while watching Coronation Street in a minimised window.

One neat email feature lets you "grab" any TV picture and tag it onto your missive. By hollering into your OnNet box you can even attach a voice message, thus sparing Gran the trouble of squinting at her screen. Parental controls can also be implemented, though these are based on the voluntary ICRA (Internet Content Rating Association) system not used by all sites.

Most video and audio formats are supported, and the box can be upgraded online, like downloading plug-ins for your browser. The drawbacks? There's nowhere to store stuff. You can bookmark, but it's impractical for heavy usage (it's not easy on the eye) and complex pages can have display problems.

Rather like Mr Winton, in fact.

* For details of the OnNet box, call 0870 600 9696. www.lastminute.com is also featuring a special three-month offer for the OnNet box.

The Takami

I LIKE the idea of being able to check out web pages on my TV, but finding space for another box under my set could prove a problem. What with the VCR, DVD and games console, it's getting mighty crowded down there. So try the [pound]1,000 Takami, they said, and you can consign the other boxes to the loft.

For not only does this VCR-sized thing offer internet access and email through your set, it also spins DVDs, records TV programmes and CDs on its hard disk and even plays CD-ROM games.

It can be bought as a standalone unit or, for an extra [pound]500, with a 15-inch LCD screen. …

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