TVonics DTR-Z500 500GB Freeview+ DVR
Doddle-to-use recorder that can store 11 days' telly
Having two tuners, the Z500 will let you record one channel while you watch another or record two channels and watch either one of them. Or you can record two channels while watching something you previously recorded. For the record, that 500GB hard drive is good for 268 hours - more than 11 days - of MPEG 2-encoded off-air content.
The remote's top notch
The Z500 adds two significant features not found on previous generation TVonics DVR machines. The first is picture-in-picture, which lets you view a small screen rendering of one channel while watching another. You can move the small screen into any desired corner of the main screen, which we found handy.
The second is Alternate Instance Recording (AIR), which uses the eight-day Electronic Programme Guide to find another broadcast of your chosen planned recording if the first clashes with other recordings.
Beyond this you also get all the current Freeview+ goodies such as series link, schedule tracking, digital text and interactive support. Howver, the Z500 lacks the Audio Description function found on cheaper TVonics devices such as the MFR-300.
User-friendly touches abound on the Z500. To start with, it maintains a two-hour buffer from the last time you changed channels, allowing you to rewind live telly without having to record it in the first place.
When you access the recording library, you're told how much free space you have in terms of hours rather than the percentage figure beloved by Sky. It also tells you much space you've used and how much is allocated to scheduled recordings, again in hours.
The clear and well laid out EPG eschews the more common approach of a favourites list, instead letting you re-order all the channels and then hide the ones you don't want too see, allowing you to tailor the EPG to show exactly the channels you want in the order you want. Radio and TV listings are kept separate, making EPG navigation even easier.