Philips HDT8520 - EPG and Operation

By Danny Phillips



Our Score:


There’s also an attractive, colourful eight-day EPG, which shows eight channels at a time and scrolls titles that are too long to fit into a programme ‘block’. The colour-coded keys at the bottom let you move around the grid quickly – including a novel feature that jumps to six o’clock in the evening on any given day – plus the EPG makes it very simple to record programmes or change to a certain channel (just hit Record or OK respectively). Unlike some EPGs, you can’t continue watching live TV as you browse but that’s its only real shortcoming.

The unit’s Freeview+HD badge means it also features series link, which is activated from a dialogue box that pops up when you select something to record from the EPG. There’s no sign of the trailer recording or recommendation technology found on the TVonics though.

All of the onscreen menus and dialogue boxes are clear and written in plain English, helping you resolve schedule conflicts and manage channel lists easily. Particularly helpful is the Record Management box that appears in the bottom left corner of the screen when you hit record – it shows you which channels are being recorded and gives you the chance to stop it or add a 10min buffer to the end.

The onscreen programme info banner lacks the same flexibility as other Freeview HD boxes, such as the TVonics DTR-HD500. You can surf through every channel using the up and down keys, but for each one it only shows you what’s on now and next (plus how long there is until the next programme starts). Hit the Info button again and a synopsis of the programme appears, but if you want to browse any further than the next programme you’ll need to enter the full EPG.

The recording library is a smart, functional menu that lets you find recordings with ease. It’s accessed using an inconspicuous button on the remote, and comprises a basic list down the left of the screen and a thumbnail on the right with all the details about the recording. Multiple recordings of the same programme, including series linked recordings, are grouped together in a folder to prevent clutter. You can sort, protect and lock each programme, but there are no editing tools. When you select a recording that you’ve partially watched before, the unit asks if you want to resume playback.


September 29, 2010, 2:31 pm

Is there much content with 5.1 soundtrack broadcast on Freeview HD? I've got freesat and rarely see much 5.1... in any case shouldn't it be pretty straightforward for the box to convert 5.1 HE AAC sound into 5.1 PCM for the hdmi connection? Wouldn't you only need to transcode to Dolby Digital if you wanted to output via S/PDIF?


September 30, 2010, 4:55 am

Hey, whada ya know - you won't build Freeview into your TVs because you want us to buy it from you separately. And attached to a massive 500GB of storage too. Not my cup of tea. Just integrate the receiver into the telly and make it PVR ready so I can decide when how much storage I need, just like everyone else does, thank you.


September 30, 2010, 4:04 pm

@goldenguy roflcopter: I couldnt have said it better myself...


October 2, 2010, 5:58 pm

Philips PVRs generally suffer from huge amounts of software and firmware bugs. Wouldn't dare buy one of these; had enough of being a second class beta tester with Windows Mobile.


October 6, 2010, 2:23 pm

With two tuners, how can you record 2 channels while watching a third? Presumably this only works if 2 of the channels are in the same multiplex?


December 31, 2011, 4:38 am

Worst mistake of my life was to buy a Philips HDT8520 from John Lewis. It continually jams, almost impossible to access recordings. Customer service is appalling - only open 9.00 - 5.00 Mon -Fri so impossible to contact if you work. I eventually took time off work to phone them and was told that the problem I have is not really that bad as it only affects a small percentage of the sets!! When I asked them what I should do they said 'take it back to John Lewis'! Unfortunately I don't have the receipt so I'm the loser. So disappointed that John Lewis are selling such a poor machine.

the near side

April 27, 2012, 12:08 am

I bought for one of these for £129, but, 3 months later it jammed on (the light wrapped round the top was on all the time, but no picture - just a blank screen). I took it back to John Lewis, and they were very helpful and offered me my money back, or a credit of £189 ( the last price that they sold the device for). I took the credit and bought the humax which was then £245, about £50 cheaper than when I bought the Phillips device. And with a 2 year guarantee. The philips' picture was very good, and the unit functioned perfectly until it failed comletely. IThe Humax is definitely significantly better. I consider myself lucky to have bought from John Lewis.

not impressed

September 18, 2012, 1:53 pm

As a long time fan of Philips, this is the brand I purchase - way back from the video recorder, to 2 LCD TV's (my current Philips HD TV is great) and a shaver, so it was my natural choice to opt for the Philips HDT8520 to make use of Freeview channels.

Bad choice! Last night was the last straw and prompted my review! Two family programs set to record and not for the 1st time neither were recorded! How do I explain that to the family!

The unit can't be 100% relied on to record programs it's just not dependable, to add to that if you are recording one program and then choose to pause another, on occasion it can just stop the program you are watching, this seems to happen when the program you are recording ends, great that especially when you've been watching a film, so a waste of an hour or so.

Then sometimes although rarely, programs it has recorded are unplayable. Again very frustrating.

Another frustration is it can become "confused" and just not follow remote control requests, so you end up having to unplug and start again!

Oh one more issue, sometimes the rewind/forward facility can be awkward it can just stall or go too far or too little.

I now see the free helpline is now an 0845 number when it used to be 0800, so it will cost to call and then be referred to the Pace helpline to be queried on the latest install of software!

Marked out of 10 it just has to get a 3 from me. Pity. I would not recommend.


November 30, 2013, 5:52 pm

well,mine keeps freezing and turning its self off !!!!! it is so maddening !!!!!


February 6, 2014, 11:10 pm

This had worked well for us for over a year, but I accidentally powered it off for a few seconds and all recordings have been lost and it now won't record either. Went to Philips web site looking for support information - I can't even find it looking for the correct model number HDT852005. Very poor. A page on Philips site that Google found just comes up blank.

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