On the whole, the unit delivers a strong picture performance. Recordings onto the hard-disk look identical to the live broadcast, sharing all of the same high levels of colour and detail.
Colour reproduction is strong and vivid, particularly with bright, studio-based material, while detail levels are high enough to ensure crisp, well-defined image quality with the vast majority of Freeview channels. There are no traces of colour bleed around the edges of objects, while MPEG noise is kept to a minimum, though lower quality channels can look blocky.
However, there were problems with the tuner’s stability. During live TV viewing of Channel 4, the GHD1621F2 became intermittently glitchy, with the picture stuttering and breaking up to the point where we felt the need to unplug it from the mains.
To check if this was a possible problem with the signal reception, we rigged up a couple of Freeview-equipped DVD/HDD recorders, neither of which suffered problems with Channel 4 or any other channel.
Also, on two occasions the audio went out of sync with the pictures while recording two channels simultaneously.
But apart from these glitches, the unit is generally slick and frustration free. Channels change quickly and digital text pages appear instantly when you select the desired option. Likewise, navigating the setup menu, EPG and Video Library is a smooth process thanks to the unit’s quick response to remote control commands.
At around £140, the GHD1621F2 is great value for money considering the amount of features on board. But what’s really amazing is that you get all of the Freeview Playback features at a cheaper price than some non-Freeview Playback products, such as the Daewoo 9503T.
In fact, the GHD1621F2 even challenges more expensive Freeview Playback PVRs like the Evesham DTR250 and TVonics DVR-FP250 in every area except hard-disk capacity – highlighting what a bargain this unit is.
Our only concern is over the occasionally unstable performance, but this intermittent flaw may be peculiar to our review sample and may not constitute a serious problem.
Score in detail