If you don't have Sky+ or a Freeview PVR, you might not know what an awesome advantage they offer. Everyone who's ever bought one will tell you, it'll change your life. Unless you already all your TV from the Interwebs, in which case it will still seem frustratingly 1998.
The Sony RDR-HXD range is designed to offer as many features as it's possible to squeeze into one small case. They can, obviously, play back your DVD collection, as well as upscaling it to 1080p -- we should point out that this isn't real 1080p, but it should make your DVDs look better nonetheless. They also feature Bravia Sync, which should enable simple, one-remote control via your TV, as long as you hook it up via HDMI, and have a CEC-compatible TV.
The whole range has DVB-T digital recording for Freeview, and there's even the ability to record analogue broadcasts, for those of you who don't live in a Freeview coverage area. You can also hook up a camcorder and transfer the footage directly to the PVR.
There isn't much information on what types of discs you can burn to, but a look at the spec of last year's models suggest that we shouldn't expect RAM support or the ability to record on to dual-layer re-writable discs.
The RDR-HXD PVR/DVD combos all feature a hard drive of varying sizes. There are four models in total: the RDR-HXD790 has a 120GB drive; the RDR-HXD890 is endowed with 160GB; the RDR-HXD995 offers an impressive 250GB; and at the top of the range, the gargantuan RDR-HXD1095 can consume 500GB of your TV shows.
The 500GB model can record for as long as 1,420 hours, which is enough to record several episodes of The X Factor. What? They only last an hour or so? Seemed longer, much longer. Sony also includes a high-quality mode, which drops the total recording time on the HXD1095 down to around 73 hours. That's still a huge amount of talentless singing in one place.
Expect these PVRs to become available around July, and although there's no firm pricing yet, Sony has promised to send us review samples as soon as they become available. We'll hold them to it too, because these machines look great. –Ian Morris