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There are, however, plenty of other recording features on board, putting a reasonable amount of control over how your recordings look. There are five recording modes (XP, SP, LP, EP and SLP) which let you adjust the quality to increase recording time. Hard-disk recordings are accessed from an easy-to-use menu screen, which shows you a moving thumbnail of each title and allows you to edit titles. You can delete a scene, split a recording in two, add chapter marks or transfer titles to a playlist and watch them in a different order. These functions are intuitive, with well-signposted options and clear menu presentation.
The same can't be said for all aspects of the operating system. The EPG, for instance, is awkwardly designed, displaying the programmes in a basic list instead of the timeline arrangement found on most other Freeview recorders. This makes timer programming much less obvious. Also frustrating is that you can't access the EPG while making a recording.
The unit is also unresponsive, particularly when it comes to changing digital channels; press the button and there's a clumsy pause before it moves to the next one. And our last gripe concerns the remote - many of the important buttons blend into the ranks of similar-looking keys, making it difficult to quickly find the one you're looking for.
But there can be no complaints about the deck's performance. As a straightforward Freeview receiver its picture quality is magnificent, delivering solid and realistic colour tones, smooth movement, clean edges and impressive levels of detail. The signal is also consistently stable, demonstrating the robustness of the built-in tuner.
This is great news for recording quality, as the unit's XP mode is able to preserve these high quality pictures intact. You get the same levels of colour and detail, while the high bitrate means that no extra MPEG block noise is introduced into the picture. The large hard-disk capacity means that you can record everything in this mode and it'll be a while before you run out of space, but since you can only fit 1hr onto a DVD in XP mode, the 2hr SP mode will come in handy. SP recordings look clean and dynamic, with a very slight increase in noise but nothing significant.
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