BRANDING: Design Choice - Sony Freeview Box

Just before Christmas, the BBC announced that more than 50% of homes will have digital TV.

This seems a remarkable turn-around since the embarrassing failure of ITV Digital.

With its low-key approach, Freeview has avoided making monkeys out of its owners. About 100,000 set-top boxes are sold every month, and now that TV sets with a built-in box are widely available, it seems we are well on our way to all going digital by 2010.

Electrical stores carry an array of digital set-top boxes, which all look the same, probably do exactly the same thing and are best kept out of sight.

So it's a pleasant surprise to see that Sony has applied its high design principles to its little box. Most noticeably, it stands vertically and feels like another quality piece of equipment from the same stable as the iconic PlayStation 2.

It is shiny, silver, compact and contemporary, and looks as if it should be on display. It comes with enough blinking lights to keep techno-man happy, but not enough to offend the house-proud.

The design has some authority to it and this means you do not feel as if it's a last minute add-on that has been cobbled together.

It sits happily alongside the video and DVD player to create the family entertainment centre we probably all need to wash away those post-Christmas blues.

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