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9/10

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Pioneer DVR-LX61D DVD/HDD Recorder

Back in July we reviewed the Pioneer DVR-560HX, a sublime yet surprisingly affordable DVD/HDD combi that gave the all-conquering Panasonic DMR-EX88 a real run for its money. Well now say hello to its big brother, the DVR-LX61D. As the name suggests, the Freeview-equipped LX61D is part of Pioneer’s LX series of products, which represents the very best the company has to offer in terms of features, build quality, design and performance. And if the flagship DVR-LX70D is anything to go by we’re in for a real treat, but as ever such luxury comes with a hefty price tag. Let’s see if it’s justified…

The external design is a good place to start, and as soon as we lifted it from the box we knew we were dealing with something special – the machine is reassuringly heavy and the chassis construction feels more robust that your average digital recorder. What’s more, the all-over black styling gives it a sleek, moody look that should go down very well with style-conscious AV aficionados, particularly those who already own a matching KURO plasma.
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Softly glowing blue lights adorn the fascia, while the info display panel shows the time and currently selected channel number, as well as the current recording mode. The lower section of the fascia drops down to reveal a very busy panel of controls and connections, which includes a common interface slot for adding pay TV channels, two USB ports (type A and type B) and a DV input, plus S-video, composite and stereo audio inputs for temporary connection of peripheral devices such as camcorders. You can also control the unit from the front panel using a cluster of buttons that includes Record, Play, Stop and One Touch Copy.

The rear panel is equally busy thanks to a comprehensive array of sockets. All the basic AV inputs and outputs are present and correct, but the most exciting is the Ethernet port, which allows you to connect to your PC and transfer DivX, MP3, WMA and JPEG files onto the 250GB hard-disk drive, plus you can use the USB port for the same purpose or transfer files from DVD or CD. Add support for unprotected MPEG-4 AAC files into the mix and you’ve got yourself a complete home entertainment hub.

Elsewhere, video outputs include HDMI (v1.3), component, S-Video, composite and an RGB/S-video/composite SCART, while video inputs include an RGB-capable SCART, S-Video and composite. Audio connections include stereo audio in/out and coaxial digital audio output, and the line-up is completed by a G-Link port for automatic control of external TV receivers, a system remote control port and separate RF inputs and outputs for the analogue and digital tuners.

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