Digital recorders or PVRs (personal video recorders) offer the most affordable and easiest way of recording television programmes -- think of a 21st century VCR that doesn't need tapes or a Masters degree to operate.
Goodmans GHD1621F2 features an attractive design that houses two integrated Freeview tuners, which means you can record one programme while you watch another or even record two digital programmes at the same time. There's a substantial 160GB hard drive that equates to around 80 hours of footage using a single recording quality mode and scheduling recordings couldn’t be simpler.
There are several Freeview Playback features that enhance recording functionality while image quality is impressive and subsequent recordings are extremely accurate to the original. And, with prices starting from around £100, it's great value for money.
The GHD1621F2 is one of a new breed of PVRs that carries the Freeview Playback certification, which is basically a set of criteria that ensures the device supports an advanced range of features that enhance usability.
As well as standard recording there are several useful features that you won't find on every digital recorder including series recording, which records every episode of a chosen programme, and split recording, which recognises programme breaks -- for when ITV decides to run the news in the middle of a film.
The metal-cased design is more stylish than most of the typically uninspired boxes you'll find. The angled mirrored front panel is uncluttered by controls and features an attractive neon green display that appears suspended within the device.
Having twin tuners offers more versatility, especially if you want to record two programmes that share the same time slot. The 160GB hard drive offers enough storage space for even hardened telly addicts. There are the usual time slip functions such as pausing live TV and chasing play.
The GHD1621F2 is also one of the easiest PVRs to use that we've come across -- all you have to do is select a programme from the accompanying guide and let technology do the rest. There is a choice of two EPG displays and both of graphically presented with moving thumbnail images that allow you to search through schedules without missing programmes.
Picture quality from the integrated tuners is on a par with most decent PVRs. Images are solidly defined with impressive detail courtesy of distinct black levels while colours are naturally balanced with a penchant for realistic skin tones. Movement is superbly controlled with both fast moving action and slow scrolling camera pans unaffected by staggering or streaming. Recordings are indistinguishable from the original with no muting of colours or the unwanted introduction of distracting digital artifacts.
Limited connectivity is a problem shared by most PVRs on the market, which continue to ignore higher quality connections such as component outputs or HDMI in favour of typical Scarts.
The GHD1621F2 features two Scart terminals, although only one is RGB enabled to output the highest quality while the other is reserved for connecting to external recording devices if you're interested in archiving copies.
Since the second Scart only outputs composite quality video, external recordings will suffer a loss of quality -- although you can get around this by linking the RGB Scart through another recorder before it reaches your display. Elsewhere, there are standard analogue stereo outputs and a digital coaxial output for connecting to an external receiver or home cinema system -– but you're not given the choice of an optical equivalent.
Also absent is a CI card slot for receiving restricted subscription services like TopUp TV and Setanta Sports.
Although the remote unit is sensibly arranged and easy to use, we weren't particularly impressed by the unimaginative design and cheap, plastic construction.
Goodmans' GHD1621F2 is a fuss-free device that can be considered excellent value for money, especially since the previous model featured a smaller 80GB hard drive for around the same price. It's well designed and easy to use while picture and recording quality can compete with more expensive big name brands.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday