As for the PVR side of things, the BD-C8500 is easy to use, putting a wide range of functions at your disposal. There’s a good-looking eight-day EPG, but because it tries to squeeze a lot of information into a tight space you can only see six channels at a time. Live TV plays in a box at the top, next to a brief description of the selected programme. Despite being a little cluttered, the modern-looking fonts and nice use of colour make it easy on the eye and easy to decipher.
In fact, the deck’s onscreen presentation is excellent across the board. The main menu, for example, uses sharp, full colour graphics and large icons, giving it a very welcoming feel. From here you can access any of the deck’s functions – like Internet@TV, music, photos and Blu-ray playback – or change the device using the red key and explore connected USB devices or PCs. The Recorded TV menu sports gorgeous graphics, giving it a very stylish appearance. It lists recordings with the full name, a thumbnail, duration and date, plus the list can be sorted in the style of your choosing.
From here you can edit individual recordings – the available options are rename, split and partial delete. It’s a shame, however, that there’s no series link option, which should be a vital part of any Freeview recorder feature list. It means programmes have to be scheduled individually, which is easy enough to do from the EPG but feels like a step backwards.
The single Freeview tuner is another limitation, as it means you can’t change channel if a recording is taking place, and even more galling is that when a programme is being recorded you can’t access any of the deck’s other functions – even the EPG, which is madness. You can, however, carry out tricks like pausing live TV and watching a programme from the start while it’s still being recorded – although to do the latter you have to hit the ‘i’ button and skip back, which is an unusual but effective way of doing it.
The onscreen programme banners are attractively presented, and don’t limit you to now and next information. You can search the entire channel list and check out what’s on days in advance without having to enter the full EPG. The display is also packed with colourful icons, telling you everything you could possibly need to know about the current programme – resolution, aspect ratio, audio description, genre and audio format to name but a few.
Also impressive is the remote, which uses large, rubbery buttons, all distinctly separated out and clearly labelled. Despite the wide array of functions it has to cover, it doesn’t feel cluttered or fiddly at all. Great work.