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Recordings are attractively arranged in the Title Menu with a moving thumbnail and the name of each programme as listed in the Freeview EPG. You can filter the list by genre (listed down the side) and each hard-disk recording can be renamed, combined with another, divided in two or partially deleted. When editing DVD-RAM or DVD-RW (VR) recordings, a playlist tool makes it possible to rearrange chapters into a new sequence without affecting the original. And if you want to back up any HDD recordings on disc then the high-speed dubbing feature makes it a quick and painless process, particularly when dubbing multiple titles.
You can simultaneously watch a programme from the start while it’s still being recorded, plus the LG also boasts a very flexible Timeshift feature that lets you pause and rewind live TV. Using the clip recording feature, you can even store a timeshifted programme as a title on the hard-disk.
The RHT399H achieves a generally pleasing level of performance. Live Freeview pictures upscaled to 1080p jump out from the screen thanks to the radiant colours, crisp edge definition and well-resolved fine detail. There’s no escaping the moiré patterning and pixel shimmering that permeates the picture and gives moving objects images a slight lag effect, but it’s not the sort of problem that’ll ruin your viewing experience.
When captured on the hard-disk in XP, Freeview programmes share the same artefacts but there’s nothing wrong with the quality of the encoding, as the recordings look exactly the same as the source broadcast. SP mode suffers only a slight drop in quality, and although LP and EP pictures get progressively hazier to the point where small text becomes quite hard to read, they remain fairly watchable. However, after recording Sky News in MLP mode, the pictures are so blurred, noisy and devoid of detail that we can’t imagine why anyone in their right mind would use it.
We tried out American Gangster on DVD and the LG reproduces the movie with a pleasingly cinematic palette and lots of detail, although some smeary block noise and edge ringing reduce the overall quality. The deck is a fantastic multimedia player, reading DivX, MP3, WMA and JPEG files from USB device or HDD quickly and smoothly.
Overall, the RHT399H isn’t quite up to the same standards as the more expensive Panasonic DMR-EX88 or Pioneer DVR-560HX, as it’s a little clumsy in places, Freeview pictures are flawed and lower-quality recordings are less tolerable. But it’s still an impressive DVD/HDD recorder, with attractive looks, user-friendly onscreen design and loads of features, all of which makes it very good value for money.
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