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Reviews placed here are based on our experiences with the units described. Faults & advantages of the various models are listed as we have encountered them.

Nextwave TDR-3100

A relatively new entry to the Australian market, the TDR-3100 is a very nice little unit that we are impressed with. In comparison to our old benchmark, the Thomson DTI352TH, this Nextwave set top box is a narrower unit which is quite attractive to look at, with a brushed silver finish on the front facia, an easy to read front panel display & a decent whack of connection options making it an excellent addition to the current crop of set top boxes.

Pulling the 3100 from it's ample packaging reveals an AV lead & remote with batteries & as well as the expected instruction manual. A minor surprise is that there is no supplied RF loopthrough cable, but that's really about the only disappointment here, as the build quality is very good.

The unit features a nice, speedy auto-scan which takes roughly around the 60-90 second mark, depending on quality & strength of signal. Another minor surprise is that following the auto-scan, the channels are slotted into their respective numebrs according to where they are found on the band, though these can be sorted with great ease. It would be nice to have the channels slot into their respective numbers off auto-scan, but anyone competent with tuning a standard TV can sort the channels into their personal preference in a few seconds.

The software interface on the box is easy to follow & the box is nice & quick to respond. While not something that set top boxes experience in general service, we give all units a light 'tapping' around the RF aerial cable input. Certain brands & models of boxes have displayed severe pixellation when tapped around that area, with some even suffering when there has been someone walking around the cabinet the unit is sitting in - the 3100s we have seen thus far have not suffered anything like this, which is excellent, following the Thomson DTI352TH in this, which is an excellent indicator that the box has some quality parts.

Connectivity is excellent, with a trio of RCA connectors for composite video & analogue stereo audio, while a 4th RCA connector is set for digital coax (SPDIF) audio as well, perfect for home theatre amplifier connection. A second interface is added with a SCART connector allowing more composite video or RGB via an adapter. Finally, an RS-232 interface, now pretty much the standard, is also added to the backplane for software upgrades.

The Verdict - Well, I have to say that the TDR-3100 is a very nice set top box. Some nice software & ample connections show that the manufacturers have done their homework. A good appearance & build quality add to the reputation that this model is building for itself. Speedy response to remote commands & a seemingly rock-solid software set is also a big plus. In a number of different reception areas, we have seen the auto-scan pull in every available service each time after a factory reset, so the tuning area seems to be well refined. In service, the 3100 runs at about the same heat as other boxes we've used. The teletext is pretty good, though perhaps not quite as responsive as we've seen, though that could easily be a teletext problem at the time.

Additionally, we're pretty happy that the 3100 doesn't suffer any effects from our 'tap' test, adding more points. Probably the only downers here are no included RF loopthrough cable & also no automated channel allocation, but sorting those channels is a snap anyway. One other minor consideration is placement of the 3100 in your existing setup, owing to the width of the unit, which is neither a full-width similar to current VCRs, nor as tiny as the Thomson DTI500AU. Nevertheless, this is still a very solid performer & Nextwave are going to have to work hard when considering any replacement model at some stage in the future.

IT & AV Services rating - 92%

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