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9/10

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Pioneer DVR-LX61D DVD/HDD Recorder - Pioneer DVR-LX61D

Recordable disc support is comprehensive. The unit records onto any format, including DVD-RAM, DVD-R DL and DVD+R DL, which makes life easy when shopping for discs. But with a 250GB hard disk on board, offering up to 711 hours of recording time, you’re only likely to use discs when backing up the programmes you want to keep, making the multi-format drive seem like overkill.

To alter the quality of recordings and use up less space on the hard-disk, the unit provides six recording modes, ranging from the best-quality XP mode (about 9Mbps) down to the lowest-quality SEP mode (about 1Mbps). These presets are backed up by a manual mode that lets you alter the recording quality in 32 incremental steps, and adds two bonus modes towards the top end – a version of XP that records audio in LPCM instead of Dolby Digital, and 15Mbps XP+, which is primarily intended for high-quality transfer of DV camcorder footage. It’s this sort of advanced functionality that makes Pioneer’s recorders perfect for those who want to do more than just timeshift TV.

The DVR-LX61D’s vast range of recording and editing features give you a pleasing amount of control over the final look of your recordings. Video is stored in the fantastic Disc Navigator menu, which uses a cute yet sophisticated layout that lists programmes with a moving thumbnail and displays the full programme name alongside them. Using the Edit menu, you can get a bit creative and change the thumbnail, erase a section, divide a title in two and edit chapters.

All of the unit’s menus share this intelligent and classy design, which is a real godsend given the vast array of features on board. The Setup menu, for example, is densely packed with options, meticulously covering every function you could possibly imagine – it’s the kind of attention to detail that could scare off beginners but for obsessive AV enthusiasts it’s like a techno-paradise.

The overkill continues with a choice of two 7-day EPGs – the clunky Guide Plus and a superior Pioneer-designed version, which is well presented, easy to follow and can be accessed while recording, but sadly it’s not superimposed over live TV.

However, programme details can be accessed while you watch by pressing the Info key, and particularly impressive is that now/next information isn’t locked into the channel you’re currently watching – you can browse the entire range of Freeview channels on the fly.

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