Setting up recordings is simplest using the well-presented Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) that accompanies digital broadcasts -- all you have to do is highlight the programme from the listings and recordings are automatically programmed. There are also manual timer and VideoPlus+ options as well as one-touch recording, which begins instantly without the usual delay to make sure you don't miss anything.
There are five recording quality modes that trade image quality for time length, but as the hard drive is so large you have more freedom to ignore the lowest quality modes. The highest quality (XP) mode offers up to 55 hours of recordings rising to an incredible 443 hours using the lowest quality (LP) mode. There's also a flexible mode (FP) that will automatically select the highest quality according to how much space you have available.
The excellent Disc Navigator function lets you easily find recorded titles using moving thumbnails and then organise them at your will. There's an extensive range of post-editing functions including labelling, deleting, chapter division and creating playlists. The intuitive design of the menu systems and remote means that even relative newcomers to digital recording will be able to find their way around without any fuss.
DVD playback features haven't been ignored and integrated video scaling means you can upconvert standard-definition images to close to high-definition quality 720p and 1080i formats. You'll need a compatible digital display to do this, but conventional users can also enhance performance using progressive scan video via component outputs.
Recording performance is dictated by the quality of the internal TV tuners, which act as a master copy. Analogue broadcasts are troubled by typical constraints but the quality of digital Freeview programmes is extremely impressive. Images are stable and sharply defined with well-balanced contrast and colours. Movement could be more cohesive at times, but overall there's no cause for complaint.
Recordings using the two highest quality modes, (XP) and (SP), are inseparable from the original and the massive storage space means you rarely have to use the lower quality modes. Nonetheless, even the (LP) mode still performs reasonably well and it's only the lowest quality (EP) mode, which suffers from colour smears and grainy resolution and should be avoided.
DVD playback performance is just as impressive -- especially if you're using HDMI. Although upscaled images can't claim true high-definition quality, you'll get noticeably more detail, depth and motion control from your existing DVD collection without having to upgrade to a next-generation player like Blu-ray or HD DVD.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield