There’s a terrific range of editing features. You can remove whole chunks by entering start and end points, split it at a given point or fuse two parts together, and it’s all carried out from a slick and easy-to-follow virtual editing suite that previews each edit on a small screen. A smart auto chaptering mode that detects the start and end points of adverts would have rounded off the editing roster nicely, but you’ll have to make do with the preset intervals or add them manually.
Elsewhere, you’ll find some other handy, if not groundbreaking features. The deck will upscale Freeview and DVD pictures to 1080p, and there’s a USB port on the front for playing back MP3 and JPEG files, but as mentioned at the start you can’t transfer them to the hard-disk. DivX can be played back from DVD or CD, but HD files are off limits.
On the outside the RD99DT is dressed in Toshiba’s customary black finish with a slim, sleek casing that’s been tweaked slightly to distinguish it from the RD98DT. The display panel isn’t huge but big enough to read from a fair distance, and the flap on the front conceals the USB port plus DV, composite and analogue stereo inputs.
On the back are all the sockets you’d expect including HDMI, component and RGB Scart outputs, plus pictures from external digiboxes can be fed into the unit via the RGB-capable Scart input. There’s no IR set-top box control but the Satellite Link mode starts the deck recording when it detects a signal on Scart pin 8. For audio there are coaxial digital and analogue stereo outputs.
Onto picture quality, and as a straight-up Freeview receiver the RD99DT falls short of what we’ve come to expect. Pictures have a distinctly gauzy air about them, with soft detail and the occasional jagged edge. You can also see mosquito noise buzzing around most moving objects, which impacts on the overall clarity and colour purity.
We compared the same channel (in this case, ITV1) on the Tosh and our Sky+ HD box and these artefacts are much less noticeable on the latter. In its defence, Freeview picture quality is generally noisy anyway, but we’ve seen recorders that tame it better than this.