Despite this mild disappointment, the RD99DT’s recording faculties are intact. It doesn’t record the broadcast stream directly – DVD/HDD decks like this have to decode it first – but in XP mode the RD99DT captures the signal faithfully without introducing any additional noise, and you can’t ask for much more than that.
SP mode also achieves superb results, giving you almost XP-like quality but using up less disk space in the process. LP, EP and SLP should be used only when you want to squeeze every last drop of space from the hard-disk – they certainly shouldn’t be used to archive your wedding video. The blurred and jittery pictures are just about passable if you squint really hard or get drunk first.
As a DVD player the Toshiba does a fine job, particularly when you engage 1080p upscaling. Kingdom of Heaven looks adequately rich and cinematic during both light and dark scenes, while the sharp, artefact-free detail reproduction gives sweeping shots of armies and fleets of ships the impact they deserve. It doesn’t stand up to the rigours of the Silicon Optix HQV disc as impressively, with some jagged edges letting the side down, but on the whole it’s a superb effort considering that DVD playback isn’t its primary objective.
Recorded sound is encoded by Dolby Digital Stereo Creator, and despite being more efficiently packed than a PCM track, it doesn’t struggle for dynamism. Speech is clear and articulate, plus the vociferous peaks and troughs of your average movie, drama show or football match are conveyed with pleasing energy. These characteristics are also apparent when you feed sound to a TV or home cinema system through the analogue outputs.
If you like your recorders to be slick, cutting-edge and packed with multimedia playback features, then the RD99DT probably isn’t for you – go and check out the Panasonic DMR-EX89 or LG RHT-497H instead. There’s no hard-disk jukebox functionality, it can’t record onto dual-layer discs, the operating system is clunky and Freeview picture quality is disappointing.
But that’s not to say it’s completely without merit – there’s an excellent array of recording and editing features at your disposal, connections are plentiful and it’s a pretty impressive DVD upscaler to boot. And at just over £200 online the RD99DT is fairly good value for a 250GB model, which might just persuade you to take a punt despite its limitations.