It doesn’t take long to get to grips with the unit’s operating system but there’s definite room for improvement. The main setup menu is sparse and simplistic but friendly. Key settings are easy to locate and the cursor responds instantly to commands. We still haven’t been won over by the remote though, which is found guilty on two counts of crimes against intuitiveness – the channel change keys are too detached from the menu controls and there are rows and rows of similar-looking buttons that can make some functions hard to spot.
The EPG uses a similarly basic white-on-blue design and like the RD99DT, we found the seven-channel programme grid a little too squashed up – to get a clearer view, hit the red button and it switches to a daily view for a single channel. The list of instructions along the bottom means you always know which button to press next, and series linking is done at the touch of a button. We like the way it lists all of the broadcasts over the coming week, so you get an idea of how much disc space you’ll need.
A separate ‘now and next’ guide can be called up during TV viewing, which provides a helpful if not comprehensive amount of information, and it can’t be used to look ahead in the schedules – for that, you’ll need to use the full EPG.
Recordings are located in the Title Menu, which plays each recording in a small box when highlighted but doesn’t indicate which recordings are unwatched like the RD99DT. Most of the relevant info is given but only recordings made from the EPG are tagged with the correct programme name.
The lack of a hard-disk reduces the amount of editing functions at your disposal. Write-once discs can’t be edited (apart from punching in the title name or deleting a title, although that won’t free up disc space) and for DVD+RW and DVD+R recordings you can hide chapters, which acts as a basic ‘partial erase’ function. For any type of disc there’s an Auto Chapter mode, which adds chapter points at regular intervals (selectable from 5mins up to 60mins).
But for a more flexible range of editing features, you’ll need to load up a DVD-RW disc and format it in VR mode (which isn’t as widely compatible with other players as the alternative Video format). That way, you can delete parts of a recording to free up space and create playlists containing various titles that can be arranged in an order of your choosing. Chasing Playback and Time Slip (pause live TV) are only possible with a DVD-RW (VR) disc in the tray too.