Set up is child's play. Switch the unit on, select AV on your TV, wait until the set-top tunes itself in and you're done. To start recording just open up the relevant menu or just press the big red R button on the remote. The on-screen menus are models of logic, clarity and orderliness, but if at any time you get confused just press the Help button and you will be redirected onto the paths of righteousness. There can sometimes be a slight lag in using the remote, but this is easily overcome by just taking a moment to ensure the system has executed command A before you ask it to execute command B.
TVonics' DVR-250 remote: controls your TV and DVD player too
At this juncture it probably bears saying in plain terms, as indeed it does on the box, that you can't use this device with either Sky or Virgin Media cable services, it is for Freeview only.
Picture quality is as good as you get from a regular Freeview box or digital TV, and playback offered no noticeable reduction in picture or sound quality on either a CRT or LCD TV. The system is also near silent in operation, further lending to the overall sense of quality that pervades.
The eight-day electronic programme guide (EPG) compares rather poorly to Sky's TV guide, but that's more down to the nature of the Freeview beast than to TVonics and will doubtless improve as Freeview matures. The unit allows 'series-linking', i.e. the recording of every episode of a series automatically, though at present not all Freeview stations support this. TVonics claims that as this functionality, and others, rolls out across the Freeview network, the DVR-250 will update itself via over-the-air downloads, making it pretty future proof.
The unit also has a parental lock feature to prevent junior turning his brain to porridge by watching illicit late night Big Brother. The 250GB disc should be good for around 125 hours of TV and/or radio before you have to start erasing things.
Thompson Freeview box
My parents have had Topup TV for a couple of years and bought into the Topup TV Anytime scam.
So they now own the Thompson DVR which is dedicated to freeview.
In short it is a piece of crap.
It has dual tuners, so theoretically you can record one channel while watching another. Except, that when the timer is due to start, it places a popup on the screen warning that the tuner needed for the recording may be in use. No recording will take place unless you "ok" this message. So if this happens when you are in bed, no recording.
If you have the pause live tv feature enabled, the live transmission stutters due to hard disk activity. This was proved by disabling the feature.
Topup TV Anytime downloads programs overnight and stores them on the hard drive. Fine, except that every program stored this way is unwatchable because hard drive access causes the programs to halt and stutter.
At regular intervals, the box has to be given a hard reset (turned off at the mains) because it hangs and won't respond to any remote commands.
All in all, it is a load of crap and I warned them about this before they bought it, but hey, it's their money.
Personally, I have XP Pro running 2 Nebula DigiTV cards and can record entire muxes with no issues, to my 250GB drive. I can also archive recordings, pause live tv, etc, etc. Ok, so it's a pc, but the features it makes available are well worth the extra space / noise involved. And given a longer link cable to the tv (I have a projector), it could always be placed in a cupboard or different room. Did I mention you can use it over a network too (local or WAN) ?
You can keep your consumer electronics, thanks.
Seven years late...
As another person noted, Tivo has had everything except the built-in DVB-T decoder and more since 2000. Tivo has season passes that actually work properly (unlike Sky and probably this box too, as it's as much about the EPG not being crap), you can set rules based on keywords and more, it will record suggestions of things it thinks you might like...
And on a Tivo with an upgrade you can (a) plug it into your broadband connection and download recordings to burn to DVD (b) program your Tivo via a web browser or your mobile phone.
It's just a shame Tivo gave up the UK market years ago.
And 'built by Sony' doesn't give me much confidence having seen the quality of their VAIO laptops (and li-ion batteries!!)
compatibility outside the UK?
maybe a stupid question , but does anyone know if these settop boxes are standard and can be used in any EU country, regardless of the signal?
is freeview=tnt or is it a different service altogether and one does not guarantee it will work with the other?