Topfield TF6000PVRt review: Topfield TF6000PVRt

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Typical Price: $1,249.00

Topfield TF6000PVRt

(Part #: CNETTopfield TF6000PVRt)
4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Good PVR functions. Can add lots of cool functions with TAPs. Wirelessly update ICEGuide. Dual Tuners.

The Bad Setup can be frustrating and/or buggy. Some instability with program signals. Standard Definition tuners only. No HDMI.

The Bottom Line Topfield's PVR line improves with the TF6000PVRt, but the wireless capability and general setup could still do with some improvement.

8.0 Overall

Design
Topfield's TF6000PVRt, available in either black or a very evil twin style silver plastic casing is, at first glance, almost indistinguishable from Topfield's previously available PVR, the TF5000PVRt . The remote is the same -- although if you're moving from either the silver or black to the opposite number you'll get a swap from black to silver in the remote body, and vice versa -- and for the large part all of the menus, setup screens and functions are likewise identical. The remotes are in fact identical on every functional score, which gave us no end of headaches while running two units simultaneously.

The sole remarkable design difference between the two models is the inclusion of an antenna socket (and a provided antenna) that gives the TF6000PVRt wireless connectivity options for downloading and uploading files and program guides. It's a good addition to the series -- previously, the only way you could wirelessly update the TF5000PVRT was with a very specific Netgear router , and even that was limited to IceTV updates only.

Features
The wireless connection used by the TF6000PVRt is an 802.11b/g connection, which isn't exactly up to flinging around high definition content, but then, the TF6000PVRt isn't a high definition recorder in any case; you're limited to a set of twin standard definition tuners. The hard drive has taken an upgrade hit, with a 200GB model in the TF6000PVRt. That's good for just over fifty hours of recorded content on the drive.

As with the TF5000PVRt, the real appeal of the TF6000PVRt lies in the amount of customisation you can perform on the box, thanks to its ability to run small compatible applications -- called TAPs, or Topfield Application Programs -- to tweak the box's performance, give it an electronic program guide, or even run Doom. Well, crawl Doom, really, as it's pretty much a tech demo, and we're not sure why you'd want to, but the functionality is there. Also in common with the TF5000PVRt, the TF6000PVRt comes with a six month subscription to IceTV's electronic program guide (EPG) service, although the setup for the EPG is somewhat different to that of the TF5000PVRt.

Performance
Setting up the TF6000PVRt is much like any other Digital STB in the first instance. The setup menus are easy to navigate and with a minimum of fuss we had the unit scanning for local digital channels in the Sydney market, which it found and named appropriately. The next step involves setting up the wireless connectivity, and it's here where we suspect that many consumers will become stuck; even with a fairly good grasp of wireless technology we were stumped by some of the TF6000PVRt's wireless setup menus. Even the product manual, which is exemplary in this day and age of PDF manuals by sheer dint of weighing in at 78 actual pages, isn't much help, as it's rather poorly translated and the layout makes it tough to work out what some numeric settings are actually for. Hopefully a future firmware update -- and perhaps a rewrite or retranslation of the manual -- will sort out the sometimes awkward nature of the TF6000PVRt's wireless operation.

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