TVonics DTR-HD500 Freeview HD DVR
Designer digital video recording
Review The design is bonkers, of course. TVonics has never favoured the box-like looks preferred by its rivals, of course, but the DTR-HD500, with its oval, upward sloping front-meets-top, owes more to the likes of the Sony PlayStation 3 than other DVRs.
TVonics' DTR-HD500: has to go on top
That said, even the PS3 can be placed on its side. Not so the HD500, which therefore has to be placed on a large, flat surface, whether on a table alongside your telly or on top of your stack of AV kit, if there's room. It's hardly discreet.
Inside, however, you'll find a standard Freeview HD-capable DVR. The HD500's one novelty is the presence of a pair of extra HDMI ports on the back, both inputs. If you don't have enough HDMI ports on your TV, you can use the TVonics box as a switch. Each input has its own key on the remote.
Older tellies are catered for with a Scart port, and however old your TV is, the HD500 passes through its antenna input to your set's on-board tuner.
HDMI inputs included in case your TV has too few
The HD500 has the inevitable Ethernet port, but this is reserved for future firmware updates that may introduce support for online services such as YouView. Or may not. A USB port on the back, and another on the right side - mounted upside down - can be used to slideshow digital photos.
Next page: Well-designed UI
YouView most unlikely
It's most unlikely - pretty much certainly impossible - that any of the current crop of Freeview HD boxes will be updated for YouView; there are specific requirements for YouView that far exceed the basic presence of the MHEG-IC channel that's included in Freeview HD.
And wireless is, really, just a big heap of headaches for manufacturers. In urban areas, it can be pretty close to unusable at times, due to congestion, and that's before you decide what standard to have, and what encryption to support.
There will be incompatibilities, and configuration issues whatever you do, and people will call the PVR maker's helpline. Who, unsurprisingly, won't have all the details of every brand of crappy old wireless router to hand. End result will likely be punters saying "I called XX and they were useless; couldn't make the wireless work, the product is shit."
Ordinary punters won't care about the technical aspects; they will just consider that they bought a box that said "links to your home network wirelessly" and that it stutters on playback, or doesn't work at all. And they'll blame the PVR maker.
Unless a company's prepared to do a lot of hand holding on support, I really do think they're better off with an ethernet socket, and let the customer plug what they want into them.
I've got a box with wireless support and it's fine, thanks - I live in the middle of N. London surrounded by routers, and have a standard 8Mb BT service (ie 3 at best, usually less). The box drops the connection now and then, but less than it freezes up, refuses to change channel or shows a frozen image over the new channel's sound. It also refuses to series-link, crashes in iPlayer when time-shifting, time-shifts very badly otherwise and oh yes did I mention it freezes and crashes all the time?
Really it's a piece of rubbish - the wireless support is one of the better things about it! It's oneof those £200 Tesco fetchTV jobs. God it's awful. I'm soo glad I kept the old Humax!
"Likewise, feeds from devices connected through the HD500's HDMI inputs weren't as crisp as they are when directly connected to the set, even when input and output resolutions were matched."
A-B double blind test?
If it's an HDMI source selector it can't change the resolution or quality of the other devices selected.