As well as recording programmes, you can pause and rewind live TV using a helpful timeline at the bottom of the screen. When you stop and return to live TV, the unit asks if you want to store or discard what’s in the memory. Recordings are stored as TS files that can be exported to PCs and other devices, but on the downside, the single tuner stops you from changing channels when recording, which is hugely limiting.
A bigger problem is the inclusion of only one USB port, which means you can’t have PVR and Wi-Fi functionality at the same time. This will no doubt frustrate tech-savvy users who will probably want access to both at all times.
Elsewhere, the unit will upscale SD channels to 720p, 1080i and 1080p, but there’s an Auto mode that will select the most appropriate resolution for your TV. It supports all the other features you’d expect, such as subtitles, Audio Description and MHEG-5 support, and it’s also compatible with Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and the HE-AAC codec currently used by Freeview HD. It won’t currently transcode HE-ACC to Dolby Digital but Technisat says the next software update will add that feature.
Fire it up and your starting point is a welcome screen that runs through key settings, including preferred AV connections, aspect ratio and auto tuning, the latter taking no more than a couple of minutes. This is a great way of easing digital TV newcomers in gently, and making sure everything is set correctly.
The next thing we saw was notification of a network service update scheduled for January 1st 2013 – talk about forward planning.
The onscreen menus are a bit old fashioned and gaudy, splashed in primary colours and ugly fonts. But looks aside it’s very good – the menu cursors are responsive, submenus are logically sequenced and the text is always legible.
The eight-day EPG is well presented too. The main programme grid fills the whole screen, which not only makes the text inside each ‘block’ easy to read but also allows 10 channels to be shown at once. The black, white and grey palette sounds dull but is rather striking, and a row of colour-coded options at the bottom let you navigate with ease. The Guide menu lets you look for a particular programme with a virtual keyboard, or search by genre. It doesn’t play live TV as you browse, but plays the sound in the background.
Disappointingly, you can’t use the onscreen banner to search through the schedules – it only supports now and next information. But it’s an attractive-looking display, using a white/grey colour scheme, clearly legible text and stylised icons. It provides a synopsis about the programme being shown, and when you press it again it moves on to the upcoming programme.