Connected and powered up, the HD500 presents a clear, straightforward user interface that's easy to navigate, though the remote's overly stiff directional keys make the process slower than it could be.
A nicely designed remote despite the overly stiff direction keys
The HD500 presents the standard Freeview programme guide - no ads, either - and allows you to customise the list, but only to prune deadwood channels like home shopping and smut.
The HD500 maintains a series of what it calls 'Timers' - essentially entries on its recording schedule. As a modern DVR should, it spots shows that aren't one-offs and allows you to record entire series. Even movies that break for the news are sensed as such, so you need only record the first half to get the second.
You can set a given Timer to start early, finish late or both, but there's no universal setting that automatically applies such padding to all recordings. A problem, I thought at first, since it means that you may miss the beginning or end of shows that don't start on time. But the HD500 taped perfectly all the many recordings I made over a two-week period, so it's clearly savvy enough to adapt its Timers to the actual broadcast time rather than the times provided by the EPG.
Next page: Timer primer
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.
Maybe because they do not have a TV/projector with HDMI sockets on it.
HDMI to SCART conversion
Why would anyone choose to take a high quality (and digital) HDMI signal and have it converted to crappy (analogue) SCART?