Over the last few years digital recorders have gone from functional to fun, thanks to a new breed of machines that do so much more than just record TV shows. Nowadays you get all sorts of value-adding features, like video upscaling and digital media support, essentially turning them into complete home entertainment hubs.
Toshiba's RD-97DT is part of this recorder renaissance. It's a combined DVD/HDD recorder, which boasts a huge 250GB hard-disk that can hold up to 424 hours of programmes in the SLP recording mode, and allows you to pause live TV and chase playback. You can also record onto DVD-RW, DVD+RW, DVD-R and DVD+R discs.
But for added flavour, the unit also boasts 720p, 1080i and 1080p upscaling from its HDMI output and it plays a range of digital media formats, including DivX, MP3 and JPEG. Also on-board are analogue and digital tuners, the latter offering the complete Freeview line-up, a 7-day EPG and digital text.
In aesthetic terms the RD-97DT is a success, boasting the same sleek, moody black styling found on the company's line of HD DVD players. It's also well built and buttons are kept to a minimum, but the front is plastered with logos - Toshiba is clearly proud of what this deck can do.
Peripheral kit can be hooked up to a bank of inputs on the front, with a selection that includes DV, S-video, composite and stereo audio inputs. However, there's no USB port, which means you can't connect flash drives or MP3 players and transfer files to the hard-disk as you can on some of its rivals. On the rear panel are HDMI and component video outputs, plus digital and analogue audio outputs. They're joined by two SCART sockets, one of which offers RGB output.
Joining USB connection on the list of notable omissions is dual-layer DVD-R and DVD+R recording, which would have doubled the amount you can fit on a DVD, and series link - the Sky+ style feature that enables digital TV recorders to automatically capture every programme in a series at the push of a button.