Sagem is no stranger to the digital video recorder market, but is the DVR 6400 T up to the responsible job of managing your TV viewing? It's available in 160GB or 250GB hard-drive versions. We tested the 250GB model.
We don't think the Sagem DVR 6400 T will be winning any style awards. It's not a particularly attractive machine, finished in an unappealing colour that Sagem calls 'silver' and we call 'grey'.
On the front of the box is a simple LED-style display. This doesn't impart much useful information, apart from the channel number. Bizarrely, the display doesn't seem capable of displaying the latter 'M', so when you enter the menu it displays 'nenu' instead. A tiny problem, but come on Sagem, what does a simple display that can summon all the letters of the alphabet cost these days?
At the back there's a pair of Scart sockets as well as optical digital audio out. There's also a 12V connection, which takes its electricity from an external power brick, as well as aerial inputs and outputs.
The remote control is simple and works fine. It's not especially pretty, but it responds to commands quickly, and there's no apparent lag between pressing a button and the box responding.
The Sagem DVR 6400 T features a 250GB hard drive, which will enable you to store plenty of your favourite TV shows, and if there's nothing good on it allows you to play MP3s and digital photos from a USB memory stick, which you pop in a socket on the side of the machine. Sadly the Sagem is no Evesham iPlayer, so don't expect MPEG-4 video playback from USB sticks.
The 6400 T can output digital audio, which will allow you to hook the player up to a surround-sound amplifier. A nice touch is the inclusion of both optical and coaxial sockets, so whatever your amplifier accepts, the Sagem can provide.
The twin tuners in the Sagem mean you can record one channel while watching another, or simply record two channels. When doing this, the box will only allow you to view the two channels you're recording, or something from the hard drive that has already been recorded. The Sagem also has a channel buffer of two hours, so if you're watching a live programme, and you decide you'd like to keep it, you can do so by rewinding to the start and pressing record.
The menu system is useable. It isn't the clearest system we've ever seen, but Sagem has clearly put some effort into making it look pleasant. When you press the menu button you're presented with a graphical list, which is overlaid on the TV picture. From there you can enter the sub-menus for adjusting preferences such as tuning and picture settings.
The picture quality on the Sagem was good. Recordings seemed clear and were pleasant to watch. There didn't seem to be any noticeable reduction in quality from the original broadcast and the recording -- as you'd expect.
Sound quality is also decent, although great increases in quality can be had by using the digital audio outputs and hooking the PVR up to an external amplifier. We found that sound delivered to built-in TV speakers was fairly decent.
The menus are a little ambiguous at times. We found the seven-day electronic programme guide a little tricky to use. In order to record a programme you must go into the EPG, select a channel from the list on the left then move over to the right-hand side of the screen to select a programme to record. This isn't as logical as some other PVRs we've seen, but once you get used to it, it shouldn't present any real problems.
The Sagem DVR 6400 T has a one-touch record function, which is accessed by pressing the record button on the remote during a programme. Annoyingly though, this feature requires you set a duration for the recording -- we would far rather it automatically recorded the programme until its conclusion.
The Sagem DVR 6400 T isn't especially cheap at around £120 for the 160GB version (model number DVR 64160SL-T) and £170 for the 250GB (model number DVR 64250SL-T), but we can't really fault the picture and sound quality. The only complaints we have with the quality of the machine is the slightly drab styling and slight useability issues. There are better PVRs out there in this price range, such as the Humax PVR-9200 or the TVonics DVR-FP250.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide