Inside the DTR500 are two DVB S2 tuners, which like any twin-tuner PVR allows you to watch one channel and record another or record two channels simultaneously while watching a recording from the hard-disk. Try to record a third channel while recording two others and an onscreen dialogue box lists the various options open to you in plain English – a helpful feature. You can of course watch and record hi-def channels, which at the moment are limited to BBC HD and ITV HD on Freesat.
You get all the usual features like Pause and Rewind Live TV, Audio Description, digital text, Series Link and Split Recording. The box is also able to receive and decode Dolby Digital Plus soundtracks.
Installation is easy. After you’ve screwed in the LNB cables and hooked up your HDMI, boot up the box and a menu screen invites you to punch in your postcode (so you get the correct regional channel variations) and TV aspect ratio, then it searches for the channels. At the end you get a summary telling you how many channels it’s found.
If you want to add non-Freesat channels, then activate the ‘Show Non-Freesat Channels’ option in the setup menu then perform a manual search by keying in the relevant frequency, symbol rate and LNB polarisation. Once found, these channels can only be viewed in the Channel List and not from the EPG. That's better than not having them at all, though.
In general the Grundig’s onscreen menu design is highly impressive – clean, uncluttered and eye-catching. Generous use of strangely familiar icons, crisp text and bold colours ensures an engaging and hassle-free user experience. There are those who’ll moan that it lacks the intuitiveness of Sky’s latest EPG, and although that’s true you’ll still be hard-pressed to fault it.
The 8-day EPG is easy to follow and surprisingly uncluttered, despite cramming in a grid of eight channels, programme synopses, genre tabs and colour-coded instructions along the bottom. That doesn’t leave any room for a live TV box though, which is a shame. But a more annoying omission is that you can’t select Series Link when you set a programme to record – instead you have to zip over to the library, find the programme you’ve just scheduled and hit the green button, which is too long-winded. We’d have preferred a pop-up box giving you the Record Once/Record Series options straight away, like Sky+.
The Library menu is excellent. All of your recordings are clearly listed with their full titles, while live TV plays in a box in the top left corner. A neat Preview feature lets you play the recording in the box and all of the main functions are helpfully listed along the bottom. Interestingly, this screen also doubles up as the timer schedule list – all of the programmes to be recorded are listed at the bottom. It’s a shame you can’t record from the buffer memory, but otherwise the DTR500HD offers a decent range of recording features.