As we mentioned, the GHD1621F2 packs a 160GB hard-disk, which equates to around 80 hours of recordings, and is adorned with the Freeview Playback badge, which puts user-friendliness at the top of the agenda.
Twin digital tuners allow you to record one channel while watching another and to record two different channels simultaneously, as well as pause live TV and chase playback. Series recording makes it easy to record every episode of your favourite programmes, while split recording allows the unit to recognise when a programme has been interrupted (by the news, for example). And in the event of a schedule clash, the unit suggests alternative times when the same programme is broadcast. Genius.
The GHD1621F2 is clearly aimed at technophobes who want installation to be as simple as possible. When you first boot it up, it walks you through the basics and the main setup menu helpfully describes the options as activities (such as ‘Change the TV settings’). The menus are clearly laid out and logically sequenced, except for the Timer List, which is inconveniently buried in one of the submenus.
There’s a choice of two different 7-day EPG layouts – Timeline and Schedule. The layout of the former is impressive as it squeezes all the programme information, along with a small box playing live TV, into one screen. It even crams in a colour-coded key showing which button does what. Yes it’s cluttered but you can always switch to the stripped down Schedule EPG.
Another feature that makes the unit easy-to-use is the onscreen information banners, which go far beyond the ‘now and next’ displays offered by most Freeview PVRs. You can scroll through the entire Freeview schedules without having to change channel or enter the full EPG. On the downside it doesn’t offer a programme synopsis.
The remote, meanwhile, looks dull but sports a logical button layout with coloured keys at the bottom that work in harmony with the unit’s menu screens.