It’s pretty easy to use too. The interface, perhaps unsurprisingly, is similar to Sky’s in appearance – all blues and whites, but it is a little easier to use. Some features, so sorely missing on Sky, are in evidence – such as the ability to flick through descriptions as well as just the titles of programs on the ‘now and next’ in-screen view. Connections around the back are comprehensive too. There’s no HDMI output, but you do get a pair of SCART sockets, a digital audio output – via a coaxial socket – and S-Video as well. Picture quality is nothing out of the ordinary, but neither is it particularly poor.
What makes this recorder different to your run-of-the-mill digital TV hard disk recorders is that Anytime functionality. Again this works in a similar way to the Sky service. Overnight and into the wee hours of the morning, a selection of programmes determined by the people at Top Up TV is automatically recorded to the set-top box. You don’t get any control over it – and you can’t watch those channels ‘live’ as you can with the Sky service, but the programmes are then stored for you to watch whenever you want. They don’t clash with your own recordings either: Anytime recordings are stored on their own hard disk partition.
All you do when you’re ready to watch is press the Top Up TV button on the Sky-alike remote and browse what’s been recorded. It takes a few days before a decent selection of stuff builds up, but once this happens you’ll have a continually refreshed selection of what is effectively on-demand programming to watch. And you don’t have to worry about the hard disk filling up either. Programmes ‘time out’ after six days, freeing up space for new content, while stuff you haven’t had time to watch can be transferred to the ‘personal’ storage area of the box for watching later.