Easy to use
Setup is straightforward, and the user interface is certainly uncluttered, to the point where some screens look incredibly sparse – setting a recording, for instance, overlays a large grey box on the screen with just a few words in the centre, and some colour-coded keys below.
The integrated HDMI switch will help folk whose tellies have too few ports
Scheduling a series record is simple – press Record, then Blue for the series. The big space between screen elements made that a little less than obvious initially, but you soon become used to it.
Rescheduling or selecting the HD version of a programme works well, and new features like trailer booking, where you press Green to set a timer during a trailer, are supported too. The interactive engine is very responsive, and TVonics says that a future update may provide access to iPlayer that way.
However, I do have some niggles. While most of the DVRs I’ve looked at allow – or impose – folder creation, the TVonics doesn’t. This means that you have a long list of recorded programmes which, while you can sort it in different ways, doesn’t allow you to organise stuff yourself.
Next page: The TVonics UI in Pictures
It's been sitting here for around a month or so now, and I've not had any mysterious things happening (or at least none that I can't put down to other causes; for example, watching a recording of The Event from C4HD last night, one segment had the audio messed up, with no dialogue, but I've seen that happen on 4HD with other recorders too - seems they don't always switch back from stereo to 5 channels after the ad breaks properly).
So, I'd give a qualified yes, and it was happy even at the end of the chain of devices connected to my aerial, where other boxes have suffered failed recordings due to low signal.
It'll be interesting to see how HD boxes fare over the summer, with any tropo lifts, together with the increased power on digital muxes around the country as switchover proceeds.
A couple of points; a mistake I made (mea culpa) - there is an EPG search; it's just not immediately obvious.
Fast forward is tolerable at the highest speed, though you do get some of macro-blocking. There are other options worth using too, though. First, there's resume playback, so you can jump back to where you were. And the same screen allows you to enter a number of minutes to jump to and then start playback. Finally, there are the skip buttons; admittedly they are limited in duration, but the combination of those will likely cover most common needs.
As for the score, I think it does deserve the figure it got; we do have a standard way of calculating the ratings for RegHardware. Essentially, this doesn't offer as much as the Humax, but it does provide features (notably Dolby Transcoding) that are missing from some of the others I've looked at.
It's got a pretty straightforward interface that should be simple for most people to grasp (even if they don't find the EPG search), but lacks some of the extras found on, for instance, the Digital Stream or IceCrypt boxes.
Have you been using it long enough to have a handle on its reliability? As you know, just about every box out there seems to suffer mystery missed recordings, library disappearance, resets to defaults, loss of record list etc - but often only manifesting after a few weeks' use. Any confidence at this point that this is any better than the field?
Knowing the search function is in there could just tip in its favour if the dependability was there.
Getting squeezed out of the market
And for twice the price, you can buy a whole new 40" television that does most of that (except record one thing and watch another - yet to see a dual tuner TV). It's just not worth that price to most people. The component costs are quite low, so I imagine it's mostly profit to them.
My iMac does a lot more than this
I purchased an iMac and Digital TV USB clip for my family last Xmas and it does a lot more than this - probably cheaper to get a Mac Mini in my opinion.