Evesham iPlayer HD 80GB DVR
Extra definition for couch potatoes
It was when I started playing back media that I noticed more quirks. Firstly, the interface has some inconsistencies - and can be slow at times, too. For instance, press Menu, and you can access your recordings, timer list, Media Centre and the TV Max online service; from most of those - but not recordings and media centre - pressing the red button takes you back to the main menu. From the lists of recordings or media files, it exits completely.
While Media Centre Connect shows only files it understands, the iPlayer will play back more via SMB, though format support seems patchy. It played files from a Topfield PVR directly, for example, but wouldn't play MPEGs I'd created with MPEG StreamClip for burning to DVD. And while it will play some DivX files - the box isn't officially certified - it won't play back HD ones, which is a shame. Nor will it play AAC audio, and it didn't like one of my test AIFF files, either. DRM files cause problems too. And again there are interface inconsistencies: select an MP3 file, and you're taken to a playlist screen while it plays. But for an AIFF file, you remain in the file browser.
TV Max is a portal service available via the main menu. At present, it's really not much more than some links to online radio and podcasts. It works pretty well though, and IPTV - including 'catch up' services for popular broadcasts - are promised for later. You can also browse the web - with varying results - and access your email; the USB socket on the side of box can be used for a keyboard, which will make it less painful than using the remote.
The iPlayer HD DVR is a very capable Freeview box, and with the HDMI output it can produce a very good upscaled picture. But with only one tuner and a smallish hard drive, the DVR is outclassed by the competition. As a media player, things are better. HD playback looks excellent, and promised features like catch-up viewing and IPTV will make it stand out. But until these servcies come on stream, and with the playback and interface quirks that I found, £300 seems like a bit too much to pay right now. ®