Another feather in the DVR-250’s cap is its small form factor. Unlike Sky’s offering or the Top Up TV box I reviewed recently, it’s small and compact. About the width and length of a shoe box and the thickness of a 1,000 page hard back and with a stand that allows it to be stood on end, this box can be tucked out of the way on your equipment rack and doesn’t have to take up a whole shelf.
It’s pretty unassuming too. The front panel has just three LEDs on it behind a dark tinted plastic fascia, one to indicate power status, another for playback and the last for recording status. There’s no clutter and as a result it looks pretty good. Around the back, there’s a pretty standard array of connections with SCART in and out, a pair of RF inputs and outputs looped together out of the box, and an optical output so you can enjoy what few digital surround sound Freeview broadcasts there are in all their glory.
One of the most irritating things I have found about watching TV on various Freeview boxes over past couple of years is responsiveness. With so many channels now available, the ability to navigate through them at speed is paramount, but many Freeview decoders are sluggish. Interactive services suffer from the same problem, often taking a few seconds to bring up BBC multiscreen or text and blacking out the screen in between. The DVR-250 suffered none of these problems and navigating through the program guide, and flicking between normal and interactive TV services was both quick and responsive.
Other nice touches include the ability to round up or down channels if you forget the number and drop in on one that doesn’t exist by accident. If you tap in 75 for instance, which currently doesn’t exist, the box finds the channel with a signal and tunes you in to that. In the box, you also get a Sky-alike remote, with limited universal remote functionality, allowing you to control both your television and DVD player alongside the Tvonics DVR.