There are plenty of other features however, most useful of which is pause live TV. The buffer memory allows you to rewind back to the point when you first turned over to the current channel, but the feature doesn’t work when two channels are being recorded.
The value of series recording shouldn’t be understated, as it means you never miss your favourite shows. Alternative Instance Recording alerts you when there’s a conflict and suggests other times when that programme is being shown, while Accurate Recording automatically tracks changes to the schedules and adjusts the timer settings accordingly.
Another nifty feature that you don’t find on every Freeview PVR is picture-in-picture, which lets you browse other channels in a small box, plus there’s automatic standby that shuts the box down at 3am every night just in case you forget to do it before you go to bed.
Otherwise, it boasts most of the usual Freeview functionality – an 8-day EPG, digital text, interactive support – but there’s no Audio Description or RF modulator, the latter ruling out the possibility of watching digital TV through a coaxial cable on a SCART-free TV.
Auto tuning kicks in on the first power up and once it’s done, other initial tweaks have to be made using the setup menu. As for the operating system, the designers have really got inside the mind of its target audience, making the entire user interface attractive, straightforward and responsive. In fact, they appear to have modelled it on the Sky+ operating system, as there are many similarities – which can only be a good thing in our opinion.
Particularly impressive are the good-looking EPG and programme info banners. For the former, TVonics has used a clear, uncluttered programme grid, laid out in a timeline like the Sky+ EPG. The options along the bottom, which correspond to the coloured keys on the remote, also mirror the ones on the Sky+ EPG, allowing you to move up and down the page or jump forward and back 24 hours.
The comparisons with Sky+ don’t end there. When playing back a recording from the library, the unit gives you the option of playing it from the start, resuming from where you left off or entering the time at which you wish to start watching. But the cheekiest homage is the remote, which has a similar shape and layout to Sky’s zapper, giving it the same intuitive feel that makes it simple to navigate around the menus.
Pressing Info brings up handy programme banners containing details about the current programme, and you can also use it to search for programmes on any channel. But unlike Sky+, which limits you to the next 12 hours or so, you can browse through the next week’s worth of programmes without having to enter the full EPG.