Of course, had the RD99DT been fitted with twin tuners, as we’ve been urging DVD/HDD manufacturers to do for years, then recording clashes would be much less of an issue. As it stands, the single tuner means you can only record what you’re watching, so if you want to watch a different channel you have to call your TV’s tuner into action. Sky+ this is not.
Still the Freeview+ functionality is neatly integrated into the recorder’s operating system. Select a programme in the eight-day EPG, hit the yellow key on the remote and up pops a list of all the times it’s being shown over the coming week – a feature not found on every hard-disk recorder. In the EPG, the Series Linked programme is indicated with a big green ‘S’.
The EPG itself looks different to the guide found on this deck’s predecessor, the RD98DT, but the revamp doesn’t really make it any easier to follow. The channel grid is squashed up and the whole thing looks a little cluttered. The design isn’t particularly sophisticated either, a criticism that can be levelled at the entire GUI – the use of basic white on blue is looking a bit dated now, particularly when compared to the snazzy new Sky+ HD EPG or Humax’s Freesat boxes.
If you want more information about a programme, the ‘now & next’ onscreen banner provides key details and a synopsis, but it can’t be used to browse schedules or see what’s on other channels. It’s a more essential function than you might think, and something that even basic Freeview boxes offer (like the TVonics MDR-240 for instance) making its absence here all the more annoying.
The remote is also disappointing. It’s easy to miss the channel change, playback and Info keys, all of which should have been a lot more prominent, and there’s no real attempt to arrange the buttons into logical sections – although the most-used menu controls are conveniently placed for the thumb.
On the plus side, the Title List menu (where all your recordings are stored) is excellent. Each title is displayed with a moving thumbnail, and unwatched recordings are flagged as ‘New’, but only timer recordings made from the EPG are tagged by name – everything else is just listed with the date and time. Select any title and a menu appears, giving you the chance to play, delete or edit the recording, or add it to a playlist.