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Philips DVDR3577H DVD/HDD Recorder
This DVD/HDD recorder finds itself thrust onto a market currently being dominated by the likes of Sony and Panasonic, whose Freeview-equipped machines are earning plaudits left right and centre.
So with such strong competition, it seems bizarre that Philips has chosen not to put a digital tuner inside the DVDR3577H. With digital switchover already underway, it could be argued that every new recorder should feature a digital tuner, but a quick flick through Philips' website reveals none of the listed DVD/HDD combis have one, which is even more puzzling.
It means, of course, that you'll miss out on all the good stuff like direct timer recording from the 7-day Freeview EPG (the only assistance here is Video Plus) and series recording, as well as over 40 digital channels with crisp picture quality, digital text and interactive support.
But what's most frustrating about this bewildering blip is that the deck boasts an otherwise cracking feature list. The hard-disk capacity is a sizeable 160GB, which offers up to 180 hours of recording time, and because Philips no longer limits its recorders to DVD+RW and +R, you can also use DVD-RW and DVD-R, as well as DVD+R Double Layer.
By far the most useful feature is Time Shift Buffer, which automatically stores whatever you're watching in a cache memory (for up to six hours), allowing you to go back and watch parts again and even select sections to keep. You can also pause live TV and watch a programme from the hard disk while it's still being recorded.
The hard disk can also be used to store and playback DivX, MP3, WMA and JPEG files transferred from DVD, CD or via the USB port located on the unit's front panel. This jukebox functionality is becoming increasingly common among hard-disk recorders and makes this unit feel more like a complete entertainment hub than a straightforward time-shifting device.
There's a decent range of connections on board, including an HDMI socket (v1.1) which outputs video in the 720p, 1080i and 1080p formats. Oddly there's no component video output, but there are two RGB-capable SCART sockets (one input, one output) alongside less important sockets like S-video and composite out. The front panel features DV input for camcorders and composite/stereo audio inputs.