Being a Freeview+ branded product, it’s teeming with clever recording features, the most important of which is series link. It’s effortless to use – enter the eight-day onscreen EPG, select the programme you want, press record and a dialogue box gives you the option of recording the whole series. No unnecessary submenus, no pidgin English, just a quick, easy process.
If the programmed recording clashes with others, a different box offers 'Resolve Conflict' and 'Cancel Timer' options. Select the former and you get a stripped-down EPG listing the channels in question – simply pick the one you want to delete. Furthermore, when cancelling a timer, it asks if you want to delete just the event in question or the entire series. This use of plain English to describe each function is what we love most about the DTR-HV250.
That said, TVonics takes a fairly no-frills approach to its onscreen menu design, with bog-standard boxes and icon-free lists, but everything is so easy to read, articulately described and sensibly structured that the lack of pizzazz is utterly forgiveable. In any case, most users would put simplicity over flash graphics any day of the week.
Other things we like include the no-nonsense EPG, which shows nine channels at a time, and the onscreen info banner, which lets you search through the entire schedules without limiting you to now & next details as some PVRs do.
By default, the recording library lists stored programmes from newest down to oldest, although you can re-sort it by name or duration to make things easy to find. Select something to watch and you’re given the choice of resuming, playing from the start or manually entering a start point, just like Sky+. You can also compile playlists, which comes in handy when backing up a batch of recordings on an external recorder.
For the remote, TVonics has shrewdly chosen to mimic the Sky+ zapper. It’s not quite as intuitive, but has all the right elements – menu, playback and volume/channel change controls conveniently clustered in the centre, with the important EPG, Back and Info buttons fanned out above them. Everything else is easy to find and clearly labelled, making it a dream to use – good news given that it’ll be a big part of your everyday life.