The concept of a Freeview receiver that can record isn't new -- for a while now companies such as Thomson, Sony and Humax have been making digital video recorders that give Freeview viewers Sky+ style features without making Murdoch any richer. The good news is that there are whole new set of these DVRs on their way, under the 'Freeview Playback' brand, which offers funky new features.
One of the first official Freeview Playback DVRs is the TVonics DVR-FP250, which sports a massive 250GB of storage, so you can store staggering amounts of Neighbours and The Jeremy Kyle Show before you have to delete anything. It also means you can pause live TV for two hours, which is good if your bladder gets really full or you're desperate for 210 cups of tea.
Freeview Playback also has some pretty cool features, like being able to record a programme no matter how badly delayed it is by Tim Henman not winning Wimbledon. There's also the option of series link, which Sky+ has had since launch --does this too. This means you can automatically record every episode of a series. Which means no more arguments at home over who forgot to record Any Dream Will Do.
There is also the added bonus of dual tuners, which means you can record one channel and continue to watch another. The TVonics won't allow you to record two different channels at once, however, which we think is a missed opportunity.
The TVonics DVR-FP250 is also kind to our fragile planet by having the decency to only consume 3.5W in standby mode. This means that unlike most products --, we're looking at you -- being in standby doesn't just mean an LED changes colour, it actually means less power is being used.
It would be wrong for us to end this craving without mentioning the styling. It's a pretty unusual-looking machine. The colour should fit in nicely with most flat-panel screens, but the unusual curviness gave us pause for thought in the office. We reckon you'll either love it or hate it. -Ian Morris