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August International DA102A 10.2 TV

10.2 Inch Digital and Analogue TV with VGA input. Widescreen high resolution panel (800x480 pixels) also receives digital radio. Multi-language OSD (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese), with EPG (Electronic Program Guide), remote control, stand/mounting bracket. Power supply DC12V from mains (AC100-240V) and car (DC12-24V) adaptors and optional external battery box. Can output FreeView TV to a large TV screen. Ideal for kitchen, caravan, boat and bedroom.

- Analogue tuner for popular 5 TV channels
- Digital tuner for over 30 FreeView channels
- Plus all digital radio stations
- 10.2in TFT 16:9 LCD display panel, resolution 800 x 480
- Brightness: 300 cd/m²
- Contrast: 150:1
- Aspect Ratio 16:9
- Supports PAL & SECAM
- Meets DVB-T & MEPG-2 standard
- Auto program search
- Can store 1,000 channels
- Has built in games Mine, Tetris, Gomoku and a Calendar
- Supports Electronic Programme Guide & nine-Picture Inset Guide & subtitles
- Multi-language On Screen Display
- 36 button Remote control
- Power supply from mains & car adaptors
- Can be powered by optional external battery box
- Dimensions 260 x 175 x 50mm
- Weight 915g
- A/V In
- A/V Out
- VGA In
- External Antenna In
- Earphone Jack
- Power Input
- AC power adaptor
- Car adaptor (12-24v)
- Stand / mounting bracket
- A/V cable
- External antenna
- Remote control
- User's manual

Review by Adam Rayner

I was puzzled at first when it was suggested that we review a simple small TV set but as soon as I learned the price of this piece kit and how it was adapted for our 12V DC mobile world, I reckoned it was a commodity product you needed to know about.

First off, it is of course a smaller screen than most TV sets but also a larger screen than most in car devices bar the big people carrier roof lining-living things. It is designed for the 12V caravanner and boater really in that it has a big chrome aerial you can extend. It also has a funny little twiglet that it comes with to plug in the aerial socket. You pull one plug out and then insert that of the 'better' antenna. Fact is though, that this extra antenna is close to pointless unless you live – as I used to – in an area where portable TV sets can pick up ample signal off the bare socket. (I had a hopeful aerial fitter call at the old flat and he was crestfallen when I explained and said it'd save him ringing on all the other houses. The lot of us had storm mangled aerials and didn't know nor care.)

However, these days I live on the crest of the hilly bits of Hertfordshire, looking out North to Luton and beyond. It's the same alluvial lumpen conglomerate geology as makes Harrow Hill stick up if I recall correctly and it means I get terrible low quality reception where we now live.

This makes it a great place to test FM tuners too as the hill helps reception of odd and distant and piratical stations. TV UHF transmissions are different and take a lot of power.

Imagine a sphere of energy, (TV UHF swellage) now squash it to a doughnut or toroid shape. It reaches out sideways further but less high. This makes nearly everyone else get better stronger reception but my terrestrial pickup counts as being 'on a mountain'.

The damn transmitter is in the middle of our lovely view, so close it looks like you could scratch it but we take our signal from Crystal Palace back over the top of the hill! (You should see the view from that side, London, Canary Wharf, The Millennium Wheel, Wembley Stadium, all the way across to Crystal Palace on the other side!)

The excellent manual has much detail about TV reception and even pointed out the proportion of the UK population that have no DTV as yet, so they clearly wanted to avoid customers getting aerated about lack of reception. However I can tell you that part of the low price of the unit has to be the TV tuner. Whereas the tuner in the Panasonic 42 inch Viera plasma in the living room likes a crisp signal and looks luscious at all times, the Thompson HDD PVR box in the cupboard hangs on to a signal like a Rottweiler and yet can give a soft image. The August International set really is a sensitive blossom tuner-wise and only really wants to show you the best signals. At the snowbound foggy time of testing it didn't even want to find QVC which upset Mrs Rayner.

I do know of a 12V electronics supplier that offers signal strength finders for going mobile with a telly but these are really about static use unless you can pull in that picture with a wonder-twig.

I connected this one to the house's main coax input from the terrestrial aerial on the roof and tuned it in. Oddly enough the August DA102A has more whistles, bells and clever smarty-pants things on it than the big Digital Hearth from Panasonic. Most of it is standard DTV so-I-should-think functions but how about a Windows Vista-like settable transparency of control GUI windows? Or the nine-picture guide they call erm, PIG. You get nine stills of nine channels as it tweaks through them. The remote is busy and you can do all sorts of things like collect your favourite channels into one screen. I suspect that this would be useful round my way to simply move them around to get nine channels to fill it up one nine PIG, as it tuned-in to a good few channels but only wanted to show the tiny images of the ones that came in wall-to-wall-and-treetop-tall as they say.

But all the TV stuff is easy not to worry about for most of my readers as they will be really keen on the screen itself and how it has an Audio Visual input, making it a suitable candidate for any InCar A/V system with a DVD or games console.

Also, the set has three games built in and a calendar graphics function, which I reckon was wedged in there as they simply had the capacity on their top VFM component chip inside that makes it all work. The crucial thing is that although it isn't for burying up to its neck in an install so it'd cook itself, it does have on-wall mounting points on the back and gives a good crisp picture for the money. Plugging a quality high-gain aerial in at a weekender show away and having decent TV, even if it means bringing a scaff pole and a full house-size aerial, would be a hoot. Besides, you can always send the signal to another screen in another car of your spars if you like, via the A/V output.
I found it easy to use and well made for the money and it means that some who thought they could never bother to afford a screen in their install can really think again.

The company does bigger, smaller and even cleverer sets than this on their site, including the inevitable slot-sided DVD playing units. Too.

Affordable and fun, just the thing in tougher climes.

Build Quality 8.0
Appearance 9.0
Ease Of Installation 9.0
Effectiveness 7.0
Value For Money 9.0
Overall rating 8.4