Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Excellent range of recording options, quick and responsive interface
- Limited editing options, no preset recording quality modes, no ability to record from the time shift buffer
A powerful recording unit, the Topfield TF7000HDPVRt is let down by the omission of a few features and options that we would've liked to have seen, but overall, it's a top-notch PVR.
Price$ 1,299.00 (AUD)
With almost every new television being released today also coming with an integrated digital tuner, the demand for digital set top boxes is falling. Nevertheless, companies like Topfield are still managing to make them an incredibly attractive proposition. The Topfield TF7000HDPVRt probably shouldn't be called a digital set top box, since it's technically a PVR, or personal video recorder. Whatever the term you use, however, this thing is a beast. With a 250GB hard drive, dual high definition (HD) tuners, HDMI and USB connections, and an extensive and highly functional interface, the TF7000HDPVRt is an incredibly powerful and useful device.
Digital television reception on the Topfield is top-notch. The unit picked up all local channels within a few minutes during our testing; it isn't the fastest we've seen, but it's definitely one of the most comprehensive. We then started flicking through them, noticing almost no lag when switching channels.
Recording functionality is just as good. With a relatively long history in the PVR market, Topfield has had the time to get their stuff right. Timed recording, time-shifted playback, one-touch recording and the option to automatically stop recording after a program ends are just a handful of the recording features boasted by this model. The twin tuners work very well, allowing you to record one channel while watching another. You can even record two at once, as long as you're watching one of them. In fact, the only fault we could find during our testing of the recording functionality was the inability to start a recording from the time-shift buffer (ie, if you've just rewound a TV program, you'll need to skip back to the live broadcast to start recording). Apart from this, however, the functionality was excellent; Topfield has included everything you'll need to record TV with this device.
To top it off (so to speak), the TF7000HDPVRt has an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. The remote is comfortable, well laid out and responsive, and the on-screen interface is simple and intuitive to navigate. Connections are simple but all-inclusive, including HDMI, component, composite, S-Video, and optical and coaxial audio.
Unfortunately, as great as the interface is, it doesn't deliver a lot of options, and there are some omitted features which are missed. Most notably the ability to select recording quality modes, and the ability to edit recordings. These two features are important when trying to maximise the amount of video stored on the HDD, and without them, the Topfield is limited to approximately 70 hours of standard definition footage, or 30 hours of high definition footage. Without a way to transfer files off the HDD, this means you'll have to be very selective about what you decide to keep and what gets deleted.
Still, the TF7000HDPVRt is a great option for users looking for a powerful, HD PVR. It doesn't have all the features that we'd like to see, but the core stuff - recording and digital reception - is very well implemented.
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