The drop in image quality from SP to LP is very clear, with Freeview recordings looking softer and hazier with dotty pixel noise dancing around the edges of moving objects. These artefacts increase even more in EP, making recordings look like YouTube clips, but at least you can make out what's going on. And as long as you stick to static or slow-paced material (and don't sit too close to the screen) SLP offers watchable results and a long recording time.
Switching to DVD performance, our copy of King Kong was beautifully presented. The deck's solid 1080p upscaling fended off unwanted artefacts and the rich, solid black reproduction kept pictures looking punchy and film-like. Colours were treated with respect too, as Naomi Watts' realistically peachy skin tones demonstrated.
The RD-97DT's picture and sound performance is of the highest order, both in terms of live Freeview broadcasts and recordings. We're also impressed by the deck's handling of DVD discs, which makes it a great home cinema source - plus the range of editing and playback features is not to be sniffed at.
But we're less than impressed by the unit's generally cumbersome and unresponsive operating system. And despite the presence of 1080p upscaling and digital media playback, the feature list is limited, lacking many goodies found on similarly-priced rivals such as a USB port, series link, a jukebox mode and dual-layer DVD recording. Here's hoping the RD-97DT is merely a blot on Toshiba's otherwise impressive copybook.