Happily, things do begin to take a turn for the better once you begin to use the iPlayer. Once plugged in, the iPlayer is very easy to setup and will automatically scan for all the Freeview channels and program them in. Once this process is completed, you’re ready to get on with the taxing activity of watching TV.
Recording is quick and easy, with a smart and relatively easy to navigate 7-day EPG available to browse through and select programs to record. You can also set recordings to specific times, enabling you to set the box to record at the same time every day, or week and so on. You can’t, however, create an automatic series link for a particular TV series so you’ll have to compensate manually for any changes to the schedules.
Disappointingly, the iPlayer only includes a single tuner – meaning you can only record one program at a time and you can’t watch another channel while recording. This, I feel, is a severe limitation when compared to the multitude of PVRs that the iPlayer is certainly competing with.
Furthermore, although the recording process is generally simple to use there are some annoyances. As with any PVR the iPlayer features timeshifting, recording what you’re watching so that you can rewind back, and this feature works fine. But, the iPlayer doesn’t appear to delete these timeshifting files automatically and you have to navigate through two menu screens to delete them manually. If you don’t, you’ll soon find there’s no space left for anything else.
Storage space is another area where the iPlayer may come up short. Though the 80GB drive is sufficient for standard definition broadcasts, the iPlayer is advertised as “future proof” and future HD content will take up a lot more space. Evesham claims that this is tempered by the ability to export recordings to a USB hard-drive, or a PC, over a network. Reasonable though this may sound, neither of these solutions is ideal.
First, drives connected to the iPlayer must be formatted to FAT 32, which has a maximum file size of 4GB. This makes transporting HD content to a drive unlikely, with HD content likely to be in the region of four times larger than SD content and consequently far larger than the 4GB limit in most cases.
Similar problems arise with exporting to a PC via a network, which requires you to input the IP address and the name of the shared folder on the iPlayer. Unfortunately, despite the iPlayer recognising the PC and the shared folder, I was never able to get this to work. More importantly, this particular function is by no means user friendly and relies on the user knowing how to find information, such as an IP address, themselves.