We’re also impressed by the responsiveness of the menu system, which allows you to cruise around and make changes without any frustrating pauses, but sadly it’s not quite as cooperative when it comes to changing channels – the screen stays black for just a fraction too long when flicking between channels on different multiplexes.
The remote’s design is fine on the whole, with conveniently placed menu and channel-change controls, although some of the frequently used keys (like Text, Channel List and the playback controls) are buried within a cluster of similar-looking keys towards the bottom of the handset.
The digital TV features are intelligently integrated and attractively presented. Most impressive is the onscreen channel guide, which is superimposed over the programme you’re watching and allows you to browse the next six hours of programmes on any channel without having to enter the main EPG. But if you do want to investigate what’s on in the coming week, then the full EPG is similarly well-designed, using a familiar timeline layout. Live TV and the current programme synopsis are displayed at the top, and at the bottom it lists all the available options, and even shows you a picture of the button you need to press and how much space is left on the hard-disk.
When setting a timer recording from the EPG (simply by highlighting the programme and pressing ‘OK’) you’re presented with the option of recording a single programme or the entire series – one of the features offered by Freeview Playback. In fact, helpful info boxes pop up all over the place, letting you know when programmes are about to start or when recordings clash. Recorded programmes are stored in the Video Library, which is logically designed but can only be accessed via the setup menu – ideally it should have been given its own button on the remote.
The inclusion of twin Freeview tuners means you can record one channel while watching another, or record two programmes on different channels – but unlike some of the more expensive PVRs on the market you can’t record two and watch a third (a reminder box pops up when you try). And although you can pause live TV, the buffer memory only kicks in when you press pause, which means you can’t rewind live TV as you can on Sky+, which is a shame.