Summary

Our Score

7/10

Review Price free/subscription

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At the back you'll find a wealth of connectivity. This is headed by two USB-inputs which can be used to connect external storage or the included wireless dongle. They're quite close together though, so 'fat' memory sticks will require an extension cable. Below this is a type-B USB output to hook the DVR up to your computer. We found the PC USB cable couldn't be easily plugged in with the large wireless dongle inserted, which is a minor but occasionally irritating design flaw.

For video there's component, composite in/out and HDMI, while non-HDMI digital audio is very well covered thanks to the provision of both coaxial and optical outputs. Last but not least are a 100Mbit Ethernet port, TV-aerial socket and a power switch.

Just like its predecessor, this latest Playon! takes a 3.5in hard drive of any capacity. Installation is fairly simple if a tad fiddly, requiring the removal of eight screws, but there is an illustrated step-by-step guide to help you along. For those who would rather not deal with the hassle, the DVR TV is available with 500GB or 1TB hard drives pre-installed and the unit under review here is the 1TB one.

Models with a hard drive pre-installed have the added advantage that the drives come pre-formatted to accommodate the DVR TV's functionality. As the included note explains, HDDs are divided in a 20/60/20 ratio: the first partition, dedicated to recording (including timeshift), is UDF and therefore 'invisible' to the OS (Mac or Windows). The next 60 per cent, in FAT32 format for maximum compatibility, is meant for storing media files and transferring completed recordings, while the last partition (NTFS) is designated for backup and data.

After switching it on, the Playon! DVR TV takes a lengthy 27 seconds to start up and 20 seconds to shut down. Once activated you're greeted by essentially the same menus and icons as on the previous unit (despite a firmware update claiming an interface overhaul) which frankly are starting to show their age. While they're by no means as pixelated and dated as those on other units such as the Plextor MPE1000UHD, by the same reckoning they're nowhere near as elegant or sophisticated as those of recent media boxes such as the Western Digital WD TV.

This aside, once you get onto the 'home' menu you're greeted with a clean menu consisting of icons that are visually intuitive and large enough to view from a considerable distance. In general the DVR TV's interface is easy to use and mostly intuitive, though a few options are buried under unnecessary layers and occasional slowdown can lead to overshooting the option you were going for.

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