These days it's not enough for digital recorders to simply record TV. The latest hard-disk equipped models can perform all sorts of tricks, including digital networking, multimedia playback and hi-def upscaling, making them behave more like PCs than VCRs. In fact, this new DVD/HDD combi recorder from Philips (the first from its 2008 range) is being billed as an ‘AV centre in disguise' due to its ability to store music, movies and photos on its 250GB hard-disk drive.
But despite this bonus functionality, let's not forget that the DVDR5570's primary function is to record TV programmes, and on that score it's exceptionally well equipped. There's are built-in Freeview tuner (alongside an analogue one), which lets you record digital TV programmes directly onto the hard-disk, while the built-in Guide Plus EPG lets you browse the schedules and set timer recordings up to eight days in advance. It's not Freeview Playback compliant though, which means no Series Recording.
When it comes to timeshifting tricks, nobody does it better than Philips. The reason is the Time Shift Buffer, an area of the hard-disk used to continually record whatever you've been watching. It holds up to six hours of TV programmes, and an easy to use on screen display enables you to skip back through the memory and retrospectively record a programme. It won't automatically detect the start and stop points of a programme though so you have to set them manually. The TSB also lets you pause and rewind live TV, plus you can play something back and record simultaneously.
As well as hard-disk recording, the DVDR5570H can also record onto DVD, and accepts a list of formats that comprises DVD-RW/-R, DVD+RW/+R and dual-layer DVD-R and DVD+R discs. You can't record directly onto DVD (you have to record onto the HDD first and copy to DVD) but at least you get the chance to tidy up your recordings before archiving them.
When recording onto the hard-disk, there are seven recording modes to choose from, which alter the picture quality to increase the amount of recording time available. They range from the best-quality HQ mode, which lets you fit up to 40 hours on the hard disk or one hour on a single layer DVD, to the lowest quality SEP mode (300 hours HDD, eight hours DVD).
Editing is fairly basic despite the presence of a hard-disk. Using an on screen video bar, you can play back a recording and add/delete chapter points, hide the scenes you don't want to be played back, or divide a recording into two parts. A similar range of functions is also available for recordable DVDs. While these will be sufficient for most users, the lack of non-linear ‘playlist' editing is a shame and the video editing process using the remote's coloured keys is cumbersome.