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The pastel blue onscreen menus are cleverly arranged, using a sequence of submenus that scroll into each other, though they're a tad sluggish to respond at times. One other complaint is the selection of Guide Plus over a dedicated Freeview EPG, as it's more cumbersome and requires more configuration, but the interface has been updated to make it clearer than it was on previous Philips recorders.
In performance terms, the DVDR5570H is a competent machine, but before singing its praises let's get a slight niggle out of the way. Unlike most other digital recorders, when watching live TV the picture is shown in whatever recording mode is currently selected, which is fine if it's HQ or SP but anything lower has a negative impact on picture quality due to the increased amount of block noise. If you regularly chop and change recording modes, you may find this an inconvenience, given that it can only be changed via the setup menu.
However, recording quality is superb in the top quality HQ mode, looking identical to the live feed. Colour reproduction is astonishingly rich and powerful, particularly the bright reds and blues of the Deal or No Deal studio. Movement is smooth with low MPEG block noise, and there's plenty of detail in the picture. There is a slight ghosting effect around some edges but nothing to get worked up about.
Picture quality remains strong until you hit EP, which looks too fuzzy and juddery to use for archiving, but it's fine for everyday recordings. SLP and SEP on the other hand are borderline unwatchable, given that the blurred, noisy picture makes you feel like you've had a few too many pints. But mode for mode, the recording quality is every bit as good as other big-name machines on the market.
If you're planning on using this unit as your main DVD player then you'll have few complaints. The 1080p upscaling, potent colour saturation and well rendered detail ensure that movies look every bit as good as a decent standalone DVD player. Audio playback is similarly enjoyable, with CD material sounding clean and lively. Finding and playing music, photo and video files stored on the hard-disk is a simple task thanks to the helpfully arranged menus, plus our files played back with no problems.
In terms of features, looks and connections, the DVDR5570H is up there with the best models on the market. Time Shift Buffer is the killer feature, offering a level of playback versatility usually reserved for PVRs, while the Jukebox, Freeview tuner and 1080p upscaling make it feel suitably cutting-edge. What's more, Philips has improved the ease-of-use factor considerably with an impressive new remote. Our only reservations stem from the sluggish menu system, inconvenient recording mode settings, the lack of series recording and the use of Guide Plus over a Philips-designed Freeview EPG, but aside from that the DVDR5570H is a terrific recorder.
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