It would be good if these USB sockets could be used for video and music playback, as well as handling archived recordings, given the slightly limited internal storage of the DTR-HV250. We'd even be happy if these recordings were protected in some way, to prevent Internet distribution. Admittedly, this protection would be totally pointless, because every TV programme imaginable is easily downloaded via BitTorrent anyway, so preventing such potentially useful functionality is like bolting the stable door once the horse has buggered off on a two-week holiday to Portsmouth.
Hooking the DTR-HV250 up to a 40-inch Sony LCD TV, we were impressed by the picture quality via the Scart socket, and blown away by its HDMI performance. In terms of image quality, this is definitely one of the best-performing machines we've ever seen. If you're using a CRT TV with the Scart output on this machine, it's fair to say you'll be very happy with the quality. Scart with an LCD TV is also acceptable, but do try to stick with HDMI wherever possible -- it's the best solution all around.
The sound quality is, as you would expect, basically very good. You'll get fine performance if you use this recorder with an AV receiver or sound bar. It's always preferable to use the digital output if possible, as this will get sound to your ears without any degradation.
Ease of use
When you first plug in the DTR-HV250, you'll notice that it presents you with a screen offering to sort the channel tuning out, without your help. Once you press 'OK', the machine does its thing for just a few minutes, and then you're all ready to go. It's good to see, too, that the DTR-HV250 can monitor the airwaves for changes to the channel line-up and adjust itself automatically to receive them. That's super-handy if you're a technophobe.
Programming the DTR-HV250 to record is also child's play. Press the electronic-programme-guide button, select what you want to record from the eight-day EPG and you're all set. The recorder can also handle schedule changes and alternate record times if you try to record too much at once. The whole Freeview+ system is designed to make recording TV as simple as possible. We're confident that even the most technologically incompetent person on the planet could handle getting this machine to record TV shows.
If quality is what you're looking for, the TVonics DTR-HV250 won't disappoint. We don't like the price, though, and, as much as we respect its British design and manufacturing credentials, we can't believe that many people will be prepared to pay £200 when other Freeview recorders start at just £100.
The price is even more relevant when you come to look at the slightly limited 250GB hard drive. For around the same price, Humax offers an excellent 500GB machine, the PVR-9300T500. Twice the capacity for the same price will be hard to resist for the average consumer. That said, we think the DTR-HV250 is worth every penny and we're confident that, if you do end up buying one, you'll be very happy with it indeed.
Edited by Charles Kloet