The usual Freesat EPG is straightforward to use, with both multi-channel and single channel views. Highlight a programme, press OK, and you can set a recording, or create a series link. But it’s here that you start to see a slight lack of polish, exemplified by a message when recording from ITV telling you “The same programme in High Definition picture quality exists” and offering the chance to record ITV HD instead.
Panasonic, what happened to your grammar?
There’s an air of clunkiness switching between tasks too, where the screen will go blank for just a little bit too long before the menu you want appears. Freesat specifies a feel for its EPG, but other screens, like the timer list and the ‘Direct Navigator’ don’t really match this.
Not a thing of beauty, but menus for DVDs burning do the job
Furthermore, while you can see what recordings you have on the hard drive using the navigator, you need to go through the main menu to choose which ones to copy to recordable discs. You can, incidentally, copy HD recordings from both the BBC and ITV to disc, though they’ll be re-encoded in MPEG 2 for the DVD. Finalise a disc and you can then play it in any other player, but copying is a real-time activity as material is processed, plus a little extra on top.
Pause live TV lacks the responsiveness of a dedicated DVR
Recordings from Freesat are stored on the hard drive in their original format, so you can catch up on HD material later in all its glory. Series are stored in their own folders, and flags indicate what’s been watched, while a small preview window will help you find the right episode. It works commendably well. Yet, compared to other DVRs, there are niggles.
Sony did a good one...
We've had the Sony HXD-860 for about 2-3 years and it's superb. Picture quality (via HDMI) is brilliant.
My parents have the Panasonic equivalent and the interface is nothing like as good as the Sony. Interesting to see that no matter what the hardware is like - it's the software which is make or break for a product.
My view is to wait until Sony upgrade their range to Freesat or any Freeview HD that may be started.
six hundred flippin quid
The price is completely ridiculous. I could buy a 250GB DVR for Freeview from a UK online supplier for £60, and maybe £100 at Tesco or Asda. I could probably buy a DVD recorder for similar prices for Freeview. Why on earth should it cost six times as much to buy one compatible with Freesat? And why should the Register only comment in passing about this stupid, ridiculous price?
You can get simmilar recievers for 200-300 Euros theese days. For 400 Euros you can get a Dreambox which will have a network interface so you can record directly onto your NAS (or use the box as a NAS).
Clunky interface not a surprise
My parents bought my grandparents a Toshiba combo PVR/DVD recorder, and I was tasked with setting it up and teaching my grandparents how to use it. I have never in my life encountered such a torturous interface. It was a clear case of design-by-committee. All the functionality was there, but using it was hideously unintuitive, and some functions were either given meaningless names themselves or were buried in menus with meaningless names.
After having used Sky+ this was a shock to the system, and to be quite honest I've sworn off Japanese PVR/disc recorders. I will have to read reviews with words such as "wonderful interface" and "a joy to use" before I touch one again, and I somehow I can't seem to find them in this review.
Right now I'm using a Tiscali TV+ box, which isn't quite Sky+ but is very very close.
Why the focus on discs?
I can't understand why they want to put disc recorders in these. Combining with DVD/bluray makes a little sense but humaxs approach of allowing archive to USB discs makes much more sense. Archiving to a network pc would be even better.
The DVr issues just sound like an unfinished product.
That said, my humax also has a fair few issues. Many interface elements are clunky and ubintuitive (or just bugs like being unable to delete while recording) and it's less stable than it should be. Mine crashes if I switch on when recording regularly and in response to amp volume commands at times.