The setup menu is equally straightforward, using attractive icons and a logical structure, although the use of Fwd/Rev buttons to move across the submenus takes a little getting used to. Our only real grievance concerns the remote, which is uncluttered and ergonomically shaped, but the decision to put the channel change keys right at the bottom is a curious one. Every time you want to flick through channels it involves an awkward repositioning of your fingers. The EPG and Library buttons could do with being a bit higher too, but on a positive note, the menu and playback controls are comfortable to use.
We tried carrying out a variety of tasks with two channels recording simultaneously and the Grundig doesn’t lock them out like some PVRs do – you can delete recordings, browse the EPG and pretty much anything else. Elsewhere, it’s a little slow to change channels but most other tasks are carried out instantly, such as one-touch recording, hard-disk playback and fast forward/rewinding.
Through its HDMI port the Grundig delivers picture quality that’s as good as, if not better than, the Humax. We had a sample of the Humax to hand and after comparing like for like (using Deal Or No Deal on Channel 4 and some epilepsy-inducing kids’ programmes on BBC One) we found that there were fewer artefacts on the Grundig, although we’re talking marginal amounts.
In general the Grundig’s images are crisp and bursting with vivid colour, plus motion is free from judder. It also sidesteps the hazy stepping effect that can also plague some Freeview boxes with 1080i upscaling. Recorded programmes show no sign of deterioration compared with the live broadcast, which is pretty much all you can ask of a digital TV recorder.
High-definition material is even more impressive. A variety of shows on BBC HD from, Doctors to Gigglebiz, looked mesmerising – bright colours are reproduced with satisfying depth and vibrancy, while the picture looks sharp as a box of tacks. And sonically we can’t fault the Grundig either, as every channel we tried is clear and dynamic through any of the outputs.
Behind the attractive exterior, the GUFSDTR500HD is a fairly basic Freesat+ PVR – it doesn’t go beyond the call of duty like the Humax, which includes USB functionality among its impressive roster of features, and it’s cheaper to boot. But the Grundig does carry out its core duties very smoothly – we’re big fans of the onscreen design in particular – while the large hard-disk capacity should suffice for most telly addicts. Grundig could do with re-jigging the remote on the next version though.