The look of the onscreen menus is right on the money too. Sharp has created a colourful, engaging main menu, which lists the options on the left and plays live TV in a box on the right. Judicious use of icons and modern, legible fonts keeps it feeling fresh yet consistently logical.
Skip down to settings and the main/submenu structure is as clear as they come, allowing you to explore the comprehensive range of tweaks with zero confusion – and there’s absolutely no sluggishness to report either.
The eight-day EPG is also a pleasure to use. The programme grid lists eight channels moving along in a horizontal timeline fashion, with a bold blue line representing the current broadcast position. SD broadcasts also available in HD are displayed with a little ‘HD’ logo inside the block – hit record while highlighting one of these and the box asks which version you’d like to record, plus whether you’d like to record the entire series or not.
Along the bottom, a row of colour-coded buttons provides plenty of navigational help. Our only real gripe – and it is a small one – is that you can’t continue watching live TV as you browse.
This classy EPG is backed up by an equally classy recording library, which does play live TV in a box at the top and lists your recordings below.
Its bold layout and the comprehensive information about each recording are superb and there’s lots you can do – hit the yellow key to preview a recording, or hit the green key to bring up a list of your scheduled recordings and activate or remove series link retrospectively. Select a recording to play and you can restart or resume from where you left off. All that’s missing is even the most basic editing functionality, but that’s not crucial.
Other neat features are found elsewhere. The Trailer Booking function lets you schedule recordings from programme trailers simply by hitting the green button when the icon pops up in the corner of the screen. Built-in recommendation technology allows broadcasters to ‘push’ recording suggestions to your box based on what you’ve already recorded.
The handy ‘now and next’ onscreen information banners let you call up a synopsis of the current or subsequent programme, as well as the other key details about that broadcast.
You can move up and down the channels, but the unit will only display now and next information for each one, which is a pity – some boxes let you browse days’ worth of programmes this way. To top it all off, you can also pause and rewind live TV, the importance of which cannot be underestimated.