The GiGo includes an eight-day electronic programme guide, although the large text – useful for the senior citizen – only shows two or three programmes at a time across the screen for each channel. Selecting a programme in the EPG and pressing the record button on the chunky, comfortable remote control adds that programme to the recording schedule.
Large-text EPG to suit old-style CRT TVs, but with limited programmes per screen
You'll need to allocate the recording to one of the three USB devices, and you'll get clearly displayed info on the total and remaining capacity of the chosen device, with a warning if there's insufficient room. Unfortunately, the current firmware doesn't allow you to bridge a recording across two or more USB devices.
Recordings can be renamed or erased through the menu system, which also has provisions to completely reformat USB flash drives. A clear, easy to read tabbed menu system provides full information about the status of each of the three USB ports, and retains EPG information about the recorded programmes. The GiGo can also copy recorded programmes across from one USB device to another.
As well as pen drives, the USB sockets are designed to support USB hard drives, as long as they can provide their own power without drawing on the GiGo. Outside this specification, our tests with a portable 500 GB Seagate FreeAgent Go drive, which is powered from the USB socket, were encouraging but not conclusively convincing.
It was possible to record to the drive successfully, the resulting files playing back perfectly on a PC, but the GiGo struggled to play back or wind through these same files itself, occasionally dropping out and reverting to on-air mode. So, USB-powered hard drives appear to be fine for making recordings for playback or processing on a PC, but won't turn the GiGo into the equivalent of a hard-drive PVR.
Three tab display for each of the three USB flash drive sockets
The device under review was a preproduction model so this may change with subsequent firmware updates. Users will be able to do these upgrades over the air, or from Internet downloads delivered through one of the USB connections. Storage aside, the picture was perfectly acceptable even with the composite output and the device runs cool, so it can be placed just about anywhere.
If it's just dumping the transport stream to the drives, which is the most likely, then you'll almost certainly be able to open the files using MPEG StreamClip (www.squared5.com) which is one of the tools of choice for the owners of Topfields and other PVRs that let you offload the files.
Of course, they may have weird headers stuck on them, but that's not insurmountable - StreamClip handles some formats, and VLC skips over some too, allowing you too use it to create a plain TS.
VideoRedo can also handle some TS files.
This would make a nice back-up pvr for my in-car dogcam setup!
FAT32 workaround: >4Gb recordings split into several files, linked via playlist file?
If the PVR does use FAT32 then the 4gb limit could be overcome by the device creating a new file once the earlier had reached 4gb. A playlist file would also be created to link them together. We all know that playlist files are used to sequence audio and video on our favourite Windows/Mac/Linux players, so this technique also ought to be applicable in this dedicated set top box.
Humax Foxsat thingy
Might be £300 Quid but it is HD afterall!
You might struggle to get that on a 4gb stick!
FAT32 on a DVR? What a brilliant idea, especially given that the maxium file size 4 GB - so if you're recording a longer movie, forget about actually watching it! If you're any serious about getting a DVR, a MythTV box with a reasonably sized HD (formatted in XFS/JFS) with a couple of DVB tuners will yield much better results, and actually won't cost that much - my >5 years old Athlon XP 2600+ with 1 GB of RAM happily records four DVB streams while watching one (it could do eight from two multiplexes, but there's never that much to watch at any given time), and with proper deinterlacing it looks great even on a 1080p display.