The deck makes things simple for you from the very first boot-up. There’s an Easy Setting wizard, which tunes channels straight away then displays the relevant network settings, allowing you to find available access points and enter your encryption key using the onscreen virtual keyboard. It’s quick and easy, the way it should be.
From then on, it’s mostly plain sailing. The tried and trusted Panasonic remote, with its large spongy keys and foolproof labelling, makes every menu a breeze to navigate, without having to look down before every button press.
Bright, friendly onscreen menus are the order of the day, with logical lists, large text and colour-coded shortcuts. Recordings are stored in the Direct Navigator, each one listed with a comprehensive list of details (including a flag icon for new recordings) and a moving thumbnail. Along the top are tabs that let you filter by genre. A press of the Option key brings up the editing menu where you can delete part of the recording – something not all Freeview PVRs allow you to do – and the cleverly designed virtual edit suite makes it an easy process.
PVR functionality is excellent. You can record one channel while watching another or record two channels simultaneously, switching between the two channels being recorded when you hit the programme change keys. You can pause and rewind live TV, set an entire series to record from the eight-day EPG and allow recording start and stop times to be controlled by the broadcasters, meaning you don’t miss a minute of your favourite shows.
What’s more, easily understandable dialogue boxes pop up when setting recordings, which inform you of clashes, or tell you when an SD programme is also available in HD. These can sometimes feel long-winded – you have to go through two confirmation screens before the timer is set, for example – but on the whole they’re great.
The worst part of the operating system is the EPG. The layout is cluttered, the programme grid is too small and the large grey ‘advert’ block rears its ugly head yet again. There’s no live TV screen either and you have to press a button to see the synopsis. But we like the ‘Also in HD’ line that appears when you select SD programmes that are simulcast in HD, and the single channel portrait view is a lot clearer.
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