TVonics DTR-HV250 Freeview PVR - TVonics DTR-HV250

By Danny Phillips

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
TVonics DTR-HV250 Freeview PVR

Summary

Our Score:

9

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.

Hans Gruber

December 18, 2009, 9:04 am

Looks uncannily like my old alarm clock. Is that the best they could do in terms of design aesthetics?

RafflesNH

December 18, 2009, 2:38 pm

All very well, but I thought Freesat was all the rage. Or soon will be. I'm desperately looking to junk my highly expensive Virgin TV service at the first op, but I'm afraid this doesn't look like the answer. :-/

Wedge

December 18, 2009, 2:45 pm

Gah! I wish I could get Freeview but don't even have any Analogue reception because of my location on the North Downs. Freesat PVRs look hopelessly overpriced when you price in the additional LNB needed to make use of a Sky Minidish.





Roll on 2012.

timple

December 18, 2009, 3:25 pm

On the back it says "designed and made in the UK" - that to me is also a major plus point.

HDRE

December 18, 2009, 3:49 pm

"When recording two programmes you can’t watch a third as you can on some PVRs"





Does this mean that you cannot watch (as you can with sky) a programme that's already stored on the hard drive?





Given the TR thumbs up, I do hope TVonics turn their attention to freesat and produce a freesat+ HD digital TV recorder. I for one would like to get to a place where I can ignore Rupert Murdoch's sky service.

Orinj

December 18, 2009, 3:57 pm

@Wedge > Have you checked that you will be able to receive Freeview even after the digital switchover is completed? My parents can get analogue transmissions in their home but they are unlikely to get terrestrial digital so there only option was to get Freesat.





Regarding this product, it sounds like a last ditch attempt, albeilt a good one, to sell another SD Freeview recording device. With High Definition Freeview tuners (and recorders) coming out next year I don't see why anyone would buy this now, especially for £200!

PKd71

December 18, 2009, 4:00 pm

No mention of Freview HD? Does it support it? With trials starting early next year, I don't know why anyone would want to buy a PVR that doesn't support HD, unless they want to feel majorly let down when it becomes available next year sometime!

Danny P

December 18, 2009, 4:37 pm

No it doesn't support Freeview HD, TVonics describes this as a 'stepping stone in the run up to Freeview HD expected in 2010'. I judged the product on face value and it's a fine example of a Freeview PVR. If you want to wait until Freeview HD ones are launched that's up to you.





And yes you can watch a recording when two channels are being recorded simultaneously.

Nicholas Name

December 18, 2009, 6:12 pm

Goodness. People are able to find 3 things they want to watch on TV at the same time? I'm lucky to find one programme per day. I usually miss it, so a PVR would be nice, but not freeview, as my region has switched over so all I can get is bloody Welsh TV, which is annoying, given that I don't live anywhere near Wales. Freesat is my only answer, but is that going to be adopted widely, or is it a lame duck?

DangerousQ

December 18, 2009, 6:22 pm

why would any company in their right mind introduce a new Freeview box now with Freeview HD being the flavour of the week, No one in their right mind should buy this box

jopey

December 18, 2009, 7:05 pm

Is there a way to contact a company like this and make a request?





I want a box with a slot for a 3.5" HDD and...





- twin tuner freeview HD


- twin tuner freesat HD (optional for cost reduction)


- All the media playback functionality and file/network support (+bittorrent client) of the WDTV Media box


- Project Canvas support (Grrrrr watching you BBC Trust!)


- couple of extra HDMI's with pass through like this device





If a device comes along in 2010 that can do all that for a reasonable price.. BROUGHT! I could get rid of a load of boxes (and future boxes) under the TV and turn off the PC most of the time. Not only would the company who makes such a device make tonnes of money they would be saving the planet with the reduction in the nations power.

Premfab

December 18, 2009, 9:31 pm

I wonder if it can record from the HDMI inputs.





That would be neat - I'm thinking SKY .....

Pbryanw

December 19, 2009, 12:58 am

@Nicholas - Well, Freesat have passed over 750,000 units sold, with 1,000,000 targeted for early 2010:


http://www.joinfreesat.co.uk/i...





So, I think it's fair to say that it will be around for some time yet.

David

December 19, 2009, 1:21 am

I really like the look of the EPG, its simple and clean, meaning it's great to use. I can only think that a graphic designer had a hand in creating it.





Easily beats the Humax, Wharfedale and Topfield EPG designs.

Wedge

December 19, 2009, 11:42 am

@Orinj My postcode should be able to receive Freeview at switchover with a choice of transmitters according to Freeview themselves.





In the mean time I'm making do with Freesat HD and heavy use of iPlayer to get round the lack of PVR. Now that MGM HD is on Sky that too may have to be a consideration as up till now Sky Movies was an inferior solution to renting Blu-ray discs. For the most part though Freeview + Rentals would suit me best.

Beaky69

December 19, 2009, 6:05 pm

Can recordings be archived via the USB port to a flash or portable hard disk drive? I have a DVD-R on my computer, but not a consumer DVD recorder...

Kevin Cronin

December 22, 2009, 1:43 am

I purchased one from John Lewis and found that the library screen did not give full programme information, it only displayed the channel, the date and the duration. I contacted TVonics who said the unit must be faulty and advised getting it exchanged for another one. I found the LED display that shows the full name of the current channel and the programme name to be pointless. I also found the colours of the EPG awful and the remote a complete nightmare. Overall I found the unit to be a great disapointment and got it replaced with a Humax 9300T for £30 less which is a superior in all aspects.

Danny P

January 18, 2010, 7:05 pm

Further to my review and your comments, I kept this unit rigged up over Christmas and after using it for a prolonged period perhaps I was a bit too flattering in my description of its picture quality. I began to notice that live Freeview pictures are actually quite gauzy, which reduces their clarity, and occasionally the picture judders. These artefacts didn't seem as prominent when I first reviewed the unit, but after trying it on a couple of different larger TVs it began to bother me and thought I'd better share it with you. Don't get me wrong, the pictures are watchable but not great.

TerryM

February 7, 2010, 7:10 pm

I purchased one from John Lewis.


Upon first switch on,the auto tuning was unable to locate any stations,and,after a 'hard' reboot the machine became stuck in the 'Starting' mode.


The replacement machine has,so far,functioned perfectly.


Unlike the Humax 9300T,the Tvonics DTR-HV250 will (a)correctly display the aspect ratio of a received transmission,ie 4:3 is displayed as 4:3,and not stretched to 16:9,and (b) a fully populated EPG does not lose all it's data when the unit is switched to Standby.


To my mind ease of use has been uppermost in the mind of the designers,which goal is well served by the general user interface,and the clearly laid out remote control.


I do find the colours used in the EPG are garish,but programming a recording from it could not be easier.


The Picture Quality produced by the DTR-HV250,on my 60" TV,is excellent.


If criticism of PQ is to be levied,it would be that colours appear a tad oversaturated.

boinng

February 18, 2010, 1:35 pm

I feel like some of the cries of "HD!" above need some balance - some of the commenters seem to believe that boxes like this will become instantaneously obsolete as soon as the first HD PVR arrives in the shops, and that's simply not true. Bear in mind that even now in February 2010, the only Freeview HD product on the market is the Humax HD-FOXT2 retailing at £179.99 - sounds good until you realise this is just a *receiver* only with no recording ability, in other words just a dumb Freeview box. So how much will an HD PVR cost when they eventually appear sometime this summer, or perhaps later in the year? The only price I've seen announced so far is for a Toshiba PVR costing £349 - suddenly the £199 this TVonics box costs in John Lewis doesn't seem quite so bad.





And what will your Freeview HD PVR actually buy you if you can wait? Well 50% of the country will get nothing more than standard Freeview, since the HD service won't be available to everyone until 2012. The rest will get a mighty THREE channels of HD content, broadcasting for just a few hours per day, and with no possibility of service expansion until well after DSO and probably for quite some time after that.





Given that the "early adopters" will be paying such a high price for so little (and probably end up with flawed first generation hardware that is itself obsolete within months) is it really so crazy to steer clear for the time being, stick with a "best of breed" SD product like this TVonics for the next few years, and then switch to HD when there's actually a point?

JBR

August 30, 2012, 1:31 am

I have just bought this model and, generally, I find it quite good. One major niggle is that when I set a record timer - particularly when the programme is to be repeated - the box will choose to record the repeated programme whether I want it to or not, which is sometimes very inconvenient. I feel that if I want to record a specific programme, I should be able to. I believe that this problem is most likely to occur when you set 'series recordings', so I don't use that facility any more.
For that reason, I cannot recommend this product.
I think the best thing TVonics can do is to issue a software update (broadcast or online) which will overcome this problem. I believe that if there is sufficient public pressure this could happen, just as Panasonic were persuaded to ditch their infamous EPG (with large adverts) in their latest products.

irena

January 31, 2014, 4:21 pm

hi how do I do a software update for this as it keeps freezing?

jacky

August 11, 2014, 2:07 pm

I dont know whether this message will be shown as I'm quite new at how to make comments on the internet. However, I will give a try. I have one of these tvionic digital recorders, and I found that when it froze, it was worth taking the adaptor out of the back of the recorder for one minute, then put it back, and this may sort it. Another thing I was told originally when I purchased the machine was to either retune the television with the tvionic box on, or even a simple thing like taking the batteries out of the remote control, and then putting them back. Often I find its the simple things that work. I hope one of these will work for you.

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