To begin with we had to launch the First Time Installation to retune the channels, but this process took up very little of our precious time. When it completed, a convenient dialogue box confirmed how many channels had been found, although strangely it only found 55 while others normally find over 60.
Don’t forget that alongside all this new fangled hi-def picture wizardry and recording flexibility you also get old-school digital terrestrial tricks like MHEG interactivity and digital text, which load up with astonishing speed. Elsewhere the box is capable of upscaling programmes to 1080p, and that goes for HD broadcasts too. Dolby Digital Plus is also supported but it’ll take a firmware update to allow the unit to convert Freeview HD’s HE AAC broadcasts to Dolby Digital.
Before we launch into picture quality, a word on the remote – visually it’s very nice, with its coffee table friendly curves at either end, but it does feel a bit cheap. The button layout and labelling are generally sensible (particularly when it comes to the frequently used menu and playback controls) and they press down with a satisfying click, but it was an odd decision to put the Library button way up the top.
A session watching programmes like Damages on BBC One and Coronation Street on ITV1 reveals that the TU-T2HR32 is almost as adept at upscaling standard definition channels as it is at displaying native hi-def ones. Although there is noise in the picture, and a distinct gauziness on those low-rent late-night bingo broadcasts, it’s nowhere near as distracting as one or two other receivers and recorders we’ve encountered. Warm colours radiate from the screen, detail looks reasonably sharp and movement is silky smooth. There’s only the faintest trace of stepping on diagonal lines, no more than you’d normally expect.
With high-definition channels, however, the Sharp certainly steps up a gear. The One Show on BBC HD is an eye-popping carnival of colour and razor-sharp detail, giving the image levels of depth that’ll draw you into even the most mundane discussion about debt collectors or indigenous snakes. This all counts in the Sharp’s favour when it comes to recording, as the images are captured in exactly the same crystal clear quality. We can’t fault its sound quality either – stereo output is clean, dynamic and well balanced.
Overall, the TU-T2HR32 really is hard to fault. Yes, you can point to the lack of digital media support via USB or the comparatively measly 320GB hard disk – things that ultimately cost the Sharp 'must buy' status – but when it comes to fundamental Freeview HD functionality it does a fantastic job. We love the clean picture quality and flawless recordings, but it’s the attractive, helpful onscreen design, fast operating speed and plentiful connections that really mark this PVR out as a serious contender for your cash.