The TRF7160's design is pretty nondescript. We're quite used to set-top boxes being black little numbers with not much pizzazz, and that's the TRF7160 in a nutshell. It's visually very similar to the, except that the hard drive's internal and the LCD display extends to more than four characters. Bland isn't necessarily bad in the PVR space, though, as ideally you're going to want to spend more time looking at the display above it anyway. From the rear you'll find composite, component and HDMI video output, optical audio and a single USB and LAN port.
One thing you shouldn't have to spend much time looking at is a good remote control, but the TRF7160's remote is far from good. It's cluttered with way too many buttons that are all closely grouped together and similarly shaped. Even after extensive testing, we still couldn't confidently hit the play button on the middle of a group of similar sized buttons without visually checking first. To make matters worse the buttons are squishy and sometimes unresponsive.
The TRF7160 is a dual-tuner EPG with a 500GB hard drive with support for up to 1080i video output. In terms of digital free-to-air that's fine — nobody's yet broadcasting in 1080p — but in terms of playing back other video it's a slightly limiting factor. The TRF7160 is capable of media playback in DivX, .vob, .mkv or MP4 format, although annoyingly it can't do so over a network despite the presence of an Ethernet port. Instead, it can only handle those media files if they're on a USB flash drive, the port for which is on the rear of the unit. That means if the playback feature is important to you, you can't put it into an AV cabinet.
So what's the ethernet port for? At a basic dull level, it'll handle firmware updates. At a slightly more compelling level, it'll also allow you to play an in-built networked video game. Finally, it opens up the possibility for the TRF7160 to serve files and create new recording profiles over the internet. The TRF7160 isn't Freeview certified, which means that ad-skipping is supported via a dedicated button on the remote control.