Philips DVDR5520H DVD/HDD Recorder - Philips DVDR5520H

By Danny Phillips



Our Score:


The next best is the 45-hour SP mode, offering recordings that look a touch softer than HQ but not significantly so - and the benefit is that you can fit two hours on a DVD in this mode compared with HQ's one hour. The subsequent drop in quality in SPP is again very slight, but the 2.5 hour DVD recording time makes it possible to fit a whole movie on one disc in almost the same quality as HQ or SP.

However, the LP and EP modes (68 and 90 hours on the HDD respectively) require a greater compromise in quality due to the low bitrates, resulting in hazy, block-ridden pictures and jerky motion. The 135-hour SLP and 180-hour SEP modes should only be used in an emergency, as the high levels of MPEG noise and soft edges detract from your overall enjoyment.

It's also worth noting that the TV signal doesn't bypass the MPEG encoder, which means live TV is displayed in whichever recording mode is currently selected. This is fine in HQ or SP, but not if you've left it in anything lower, and the inconvenient placement of the recording mode settings makes it a pain to change.

There are no such problems with DVD playback though, confirmed by the sharp and dynamic reproduction of The Two Towers disc. The clean 1080p upscaling makes the CG effects and Middle Earth scenery look crisp, while the deep blacks and richly saturated bright colours make the image seem dazzling from the word go.

For recordings, the Dolby Digital-encoded stereo sound quality is excellent, and although it probably hasn't been built with audiophiles' tastes in mind, we can't find much wrong with the DVDR5520H's music playback either, with both CDs and MP3 files. Solid reproduction of 5.1-channel movie soundtracks via the digital output rounds up a competent sonic performance.


The DVDR5520H can't quite match the high standards set by the latest recorders from the Panasonic camp, but it comes mighty close. And in some areas, it's actually better - in particular its live TV flexibility boosted by the terrific Time Shift Buffer, and the clever Commercial Block feature. Plus, unlike the Panasonics you can play DivX straight from the hard disk.

On the downside, the operating system isn't as slick, it lacks Freeview Playback and a series of minor niggles prevent us from falling completely in love with it - but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Performance 8
  • Value 9
  • Features 8

Wakefield Electronics

February 12, 2009, 12:56 pm

1. Software "unstable". Mostly fixed by latest update but still poor.

2. Must be manually switched off at night to get programme guide updates.

3. Very slow to function sometimes causing you to press the remote a second time thinking it didn't pick up the first signal with annoying consequences.

4. Hard drive a little too noisey.

5. No RF modualator so you cannot watch through the aerial cable, only HDMI or AV (SCART).

On the plus side the HDMI picture is okay.

Overall, still someway behind HUMAX.


April 8, 2009, 3:31 am

Very unpredictable.

Newest firmware 3.07 still very poor.

Annoyingly slow through the menus.

Guideplus system hit and miss.

Would appear to have been rushed to the market.

For me the best feature is being able to play AVI files directly from a USB stick, but does not out way the other MAJOR flaws with this unit.

Les Maxwell

July 7, 2009, 2:19 am

Painfully slow starting so allow time before programme you want to record

Can't view/record Satellite (Sky) channels even though connected through sat box (maybe a fault?)

Sometimes freezes when in "Starting" mode

Complicated and fiddly remote control which doesn't appear to do what it says on the box

Has started time Shift recording but then failed and restarted causing 2/3 minute gap in recording

Nevertheless pretty decent for the price I paid

sheila m smith

April 1, 2010, 9:54 pm

very slow startup and does freeze a lot it also deletes recordings when there is still plenty of room left on hard drive very annoying i think this is a beta machine

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