Over the last few years digital recorders have morphed into multi-faceted entertainment hubs that not only record TV programmes but also act as pseudo media servers. However, Toshiba has always eschewed such cutting-edge frills, instead letting its hard-drive/DVD combis focus on the ‘recorder' part of their job description. Its latest model, the RD99DT, is clearly aimed at those who simply want to watch, record and burn Freeview programmes without being dazzled and daunted by a barrage of complex features.
The RD99DT is one of two DVD/HDD recorders in Toshiba's current range, alongside the RD329DT, which features a 320GB hard-disk. The RD99DT's hard-disk is a respectable 250GB, which equates to 424 hours of recording time, in the lowest quality setting (SLP) of course. In best quality (XP), the figure obviously smaller. In between these modes are SP, LP and EP, which give you the flexibility to trade off picture quality for recording time.
Because of the built-in hard-disk, the deck can emulate some of the recording tricks made popular by hard-disk PVRs like Sky+. You can watch a programme while it's still being recorded and pause live TV, although for the latter the deck has to record the programme you want to pause, eating up vital hard-disk space
The DVD recording side of the RD99DT is more limited than rival models from Panasonic and LG in that you can only record onto DVD-RW/-R and DVD+RW/+R. There's no provision for DVD-RAM or dual-layer discs, which limits the amount you can fit on a disc to eight hours. Thankfully the deck's ability to format DVD-RW discs in Video Recording (VR) mode means you get a decent range of DVD editing functions - but with a hard-disk on board that lets you record, edit and dub to disc, DVD-RW editing seems somewhat redundant.
The RD99DT features a Freeview tuner with the full range of Freeview+ features, such as Series Link, Split Recording and Alternate Instance Recording, which alerts you when programmes clash and suggests other slots when that same programme is being shown.