TVonics DTR-Z500HD Freeview HD DVR
If you have a surround sound system, the welcome news is that the TVonics offers transcoded Dolby Digital audio, giving proper surround from Freeview HD, as long as you install the latest firmware. A menu option also allows you to have ‘Dolby Surround’, otherwise referred to as ProLogic, as an alternative, or just plain stereo.
Setting a series timer is simple, but the on-screen display isn’t immediately obvious
In terms of PVR functionality, I’d have to rate the TVonics as basic, but solid. It doesn’t offer some of the fancy options others do. For example, when recording two channels, those are the only ones you can view – even if they’re both on the same multiplex. And though there are skip buttons on the remote, they’re a fixed 30 seconds, so you’ll have to press a few times to get through an ad break. There’s no EPG search functionality, by keyword or genre.
There is picture-in-picture, though it’s not available with HD channels, and there are also buttons on the remote to start up the screen saver, or display the time. The pause buffer can be set to 1, 2 or 4 hours, and a nice touch is the ability to set a PIN on timers, so that if you record a programme that’s unsuitable for the kids, you don’t have to worry about them getting up early and watching it.
The DTR-Z500HD may lack the multimedia bells and whistles of some of the competition, but it also gives the impression of being the sort of unit that you could install for a relative without being subsequently plagued with tech support calls.
The DTR-Z500HD is compact, easy to use, supports surround sound, and the built in HDMI switch will be very useful to some. The on-screen interface is uncluttered, but perhaps a little too much so, and there are no media features beyond photo viewing. Nevertheless, this is a solid performer at a good price, and worth a look if you want a straightforward, well behaved box. ®
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