There's no denying that Freeview PVRs are a wonderful invention, offering revolutionary recording flexibility to people who don't want Sky. But ever since their inception, Freeview PVRs have lacked the necessary features to mount a serious challenge to Sky+, making even the best models seem like poor imitations. Until now, that is...
You see, the good people at Freeview have introduced an initiative called Freeview Playback, which lets you know that a digital terrestrial TV recorder is equipped with a range of advanced features that enhance the user experience. In other words, they behave more like Sky+.
The Goodmans GHD1621F2 is one such recorder, an attractively priced unit with twin tuners and a 160GB hard-disk drive. In terms of build quality, it's surprisingly well constructed for such an affordable unit. It's crafted from metal as opposed to plastic, which makes it feel reassuringly weighty and durable. The only down point is that the unit emits an audible hum that kicks in when the hard disk is engaged.
Not only is it well built but it's also rather attractive, featuring a sloping mirrored fascia that sets it apart from its boxy-looking rivals. There are only a few buttons on the fascia, which keeps things looking fairly minimal, while the information panel on the front helpfully makes it clear when the unit is recording and which channel it's tuned to.
Connections include two SCARTs, one of which offers best-quality RGB for connection to a TV, and the other is designed to be connected to a DVD recorder or VCR. It only outputs composite video, which is a shame given that most DVD recorders accept RGB signals - you'll have to swap SCART cables round if you want to archive in the best quality.
The SCARTs are joined by analogue stereo and coaxial digital audio outputs, the latter being a useful addition if you want to listen to TV sound through your home cinema system.