Netgem i-Player Plus

Picture of the slick, French-designed i-Player set-top box
The i-Player Plus has really broken away from other Freeview set-top boxes, with an entirely different architecture. The flexibility of this approach has meant they have been able to add Audio Description reception as an afterthought. As a result, we have not had to wait for the entire product development cycle to complete before making it available.

The i-Player Plus is also different in that it offers Internet access through your TV. You can get a wireless keyboard for it, as well as other peripherals such as an Ethernet connection for if you have broadband or a home network. It also supports USB storage devices from which you can play music or view pictures.

Unfortunately, the i-Player is no longer available to buy.

General information

It is advisable to connect the box to your phone line using the 8 metre cable provided. This enables the box to keep itself up to date, and also gives you additional services. If you go to channel 900 you can get a talking list of audio described TV programmes, as well as other interesting bits of information. The phone call is charged at a local rate.

Instructions are provided on an audio CD to help you set it up. Many people have managed to set it up on their own, without needing any help.

If you have a television, it needs to have a SCART socket to plug the box into. Or, if you have a video recorder with a SCART socket, it can connect to that.

You do not need a television: it also has a 3.5mm jack socket output to connect to your hi-fi, and a S/PDIF optical output. Spoken guidance helps you to set it up and use it.

It is not currently possible to listen to the audio description separately.

Some improvements and changes in the software are expected, and these will be available to you free of charge down the telephone line (except for the cost of the local rate phone call).

If you have broadband on an Ethernet network, this can be used instead of the phone line using a standard USB to Ethernet adapter (eg Belkin F505050). There is also some support for Wi-Fi devices (eg Belkin F5D6050).

Detailed specification

The set-top box measures 31 by 16 by 5 centimetres. It's a smooth, curved, slick, French design, so things don't sit on top of it very well.


Box contents


Note that the RF loop-through does not include an output from the Digital receiver. So, you cannot tune your TV or video recorder to the box, but must instead use the SCART socket. If your TV does not have a SCART socket, and you don't have a video recorder (or your video recorder doesn't have one either) you can buy an RF modulator to go between the i-Player and your TV aerial. This is available from Maplin for 24.99 (code VH89W).


  1. Connect your incoming aerial feed directly into the i-Player.
  2. Using the supplied aerial lead, connect whatever the aerial lead used to go to to the aerial loop-through (second connector in) of the i-Player. This will usually be your video recorder, if you have one, followed by your TV.
  3. Connect your TV to the SCART socket nearest the aerial sockets using the supplied SCART lead.
  4. Connect your Video recorder to the other SCART socket, if you have both a video recorder and a SCART lead.
  5. Connect the 8m phone lead to the telephone socket on the i-Player, and the other end, via the adaptor, to your telephone socket. If a telephone was plugged in, this can now go into the adapter instead.
  6. Insert the batteries into the remote control.
  7. Switch on your television.
  8. Connect a mains supply via the supplied mains lead.
  9. Switch on the mains supply, and switch the rocker mains switch on the back of the i-Player so that is slopes towards the box.
  10. You should hear a repeating message that says 'Welcome. Press next.'
  11. Press the 'next' button on the remote control. There is a long, slightly curved button on the remote control below the large round joystick button. The right side of this button is 'next'.
  12. Follow the instructions as they come, which mostly involves pressing 'next'. This will include searching for and tuning in channels, which you will be told about as it does it. Then it will dial a connection to update its services.
  13. Finally, you will hear a message saying 'congratulations, the installation is complete'. If, at this point, you have not heard any TV channels mentioned, there is a problem with your aerial feed. Make sure the aerial is connected correctly. If it is, you may need to have your aerial changed or re-pointed. Contact a local dealer to do this.


When you switch on the i-Player, with the bottom button of the remote control, your TV should automatically switch to it, if it is on. So, it's a good idea to turn on your TV before the i-Player. When switched on, the i-Player should announce the name of the current channel.

The remote control's stylish design also helps you find your way around it. There are three sections to it. At the top are twelve buttons in a three by four grid, which are channel controls. Below is a navigation section. This has a large round button in the middle, four small buttons around the top, and three curved buttons on the left, right and below it. At the bottom are four long horizontal buttons in a vertical line, with two small buttons above them, to the left and right.

The twelve buttons at the top are arranged like a telephone keypad. There are the conventional ten digit buttons, with a tactile bump on the 5. These can be used to select channels directly. On the left of the zero is a backspace button. This is useful to take you back to the previous page, when you are using the web browser. On the right of the zero is a list button, that shows a list of available channels on the screen. Since the i-Player was originally intended to be used visually, much of its communication is visual. However, it has been adapted to speak some helpful words to give access to essential features.

Below the twelve keys of the number section is the navigation area. In the middle is a large, round joystick button. This can be pressed left, right, up, down and in the centre, which is 'OK'. The four buttons above it are coloured red, green, yellow and blue. On the left is the volume control. Pressing this at the top increases the volume and at the bottom decreases it. On the right is the channel selector button. Pressing this at the top goes to the next channel, and at the bottom goes to the previous channel. Below is a back and next button, back being to the left and next being to the right. Back will take you to the last channel you were watching, or the previous page when using the internet.

The two round buttons below are 'text' on the left and 'info' on the right. The text button is used to turn on and off the digital text service. This is currently purely visual. The info button brings up an Info bar showing the name of the current programme. Also, it will say the name of the channel when you press it. A second press brings up more detailed information about the current programme. A third press clears the info. When the info bar is displayed, access to some of the audio description features is enabled. You can press 'next' to turn the audio description on and off. A rising tune indicates turning it on, whilst a lowering tune indicates turning it off. When it is turned on, the joystick control can adjust the sound levels. Pressing it up and down adjusts the volume level of the audio description, and left and right controls the overall volume. When you change channel, the info bar automatically goes off.

The four buttons at the bottom, from the top, are mute, picture in picture, menu and power. The mute button turns the TV sound on and off. The picture in picture switches on and off a small window showing the current programme, when you are accessing the internet. The menu button gives access to system set-up and other services. The power button switches the i-Player between on and stand-by.

There are a couple of magic keys. Pressing menu followed by green (don't do this too quickly) starts an update of services. Menu followed by yellow starts a channel search.

If you select channel 900, the i-Player connects to a special service provided by RNIB. In particular, this includes a TV guide of programmes with audio description. Instructions are provided when you arrive at the service. If you are using a telephone line, this can take a while because the i-Player needs to dial up. Make sure nobody is on the telephone when you try this! Calls are charged at local rate.

USB devices

This is a list of USB devices the i-Player can connect to, though Netgem cannot offer any support for them, as they are made by other manufacturers.
Printer HP DJ3325
Epson C42 plus
Canon S200x
Webcam Logitech QC zoom
QC pro 4000
Philips ToUCam Fun
ToUCam Pro
Hard drive FreecomFHD-1 20GB
IOMega20GB slim portable
Sarotech30GB Cutie
Disk on Key PQI Traveling Disk 32Mb
Traveling Disk 64Mb
Traveling Disk 128Mb
Traveling Disk 256Mb
LinksysUSB Disk 64Mb
Ethernet adaptor BelkinF5D5050
Compex UE202 A
UE202 B
D-linkDU E100
EbuyerUE 120
Digital CameraNikonCoolpix E4300
Wireless Ethernet NetgearMA101
BelkinF5D6050 (old and Rev2)
CompexiWavePort WLU11A
BTVoyager 1010

Frequently Asked Questions

Unknown Channel

Question: My Netgem Box keeps saying "Unknown Channel" when I change channels. How can I shut it up, or how can I make it say the right thing?
Answer: If you want to turn off the channel tags and the audio description, you can do so by pressing the info button followed by next. To restore the channel names, you need to do a services update. I don't think this is available anywhere in the menu system, so do the following. Connected the box to your phone line (or broadband connection if you are lucky enough to have all the right equipment). Then press the menu button followed by the green button. The box should dial up and do a services update, which may take five to ten minutes. It will inform you of progress and keep saying "please wait". When it's finished, it should drop the line, go back to TV and then work correctly.

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For further information, contact RNIB's Broadcasting team.
Last updated 13 December 2006.