TVonics DTR-HV250 early review: Best quality Freeview PVR yet?
We've always liked TVonics PVRs -- they're British-built and designed, sturdy, easy to use, and offer some of the best picture quality we've ever seen from a Scart-based device. So when the company offered us a look at its new HDMI-equipped machine, the DTR-HV250, we were forced to change the bulb on our Excitement Alarm. If TVonics can apply its high quality to an upscaling Freeview+ PVR, it could be our terrestrial TV recorder of choice.
TVonics admitted to us it realises it's later than others with an HDMI Freeview product. But, to make-up for this, the company has added a small extra to the DTR-HV250 in the form of an HDMI switch. This means that as well as the usual HDMI video and audio output, you also get a pair of HDMI inputs so you can connect a DVD or Blu-ray player and perhaps a media streamer directly to the DTR-HV250.
You won't be able to record these sources to the machine, but you will eliminate cable clutter to your TV by using only one HDMI lead. This will delight people who have only one or two HDMI sockets on their telly.
There are also plenty of features onboard. Twin tuners mean you can record two things at once (and watch a third, if you use your TV's built-in tuner). For the first time, TVonics has put a simple LED display on the front of the machine -- a welcome addition. It also searches for new channels in the Freeview line-up each day, which should mean you'll no longer be bothered with pesky re-tune messages. The programme guide is the usual eight-day affair -- enough for short holidays, but not sufficient to allow you to record things if you're away for a fortnight.
In terms of outputs, along with the HDMI switch, you get optical digital out -- a full size one, rather than the mini-socket TVonics used to annoy us with -- and a Scart socket. There are also a pair of USB connections too -- but don't get excited, these are for looking at photos on your TV rather than archiving video recordings to an external drive.
On the downside, the DTR-HV250 isn't especially cheap. It's available now direct from TVonics for £230, which strikes us as quite a lot of money to spend on a 250GB PVR. To contrast, the 500GB Humax PVR-9300T is available online for around this price, and offers double the storage capacity. While you might not worry about how much you can store, trust us when we say that small capacities in PVRs will eventually cause you some considerable heartache.
There's something to be said for buying British though, and you'll be getting a great PVR, so your money will be far from wasted. We'll be putting the DTR-HV250 though its paces in due course in our PVR reviews channel, where we'll properly assess its features and AV quality. In the meantime, click 'Continue' for more hands-on pics.
The HDMI switcher is a smart idea that'll save you valuable sockets.
The front-mounted USB socket is designed for looking at images on your TV.
Another USB socket and digital audio out keep the power socket and fan company on the machine's right-hand side.
Aerial socket loop-through means you can feed your TV a digital signal too. Handy for watching shows when the PVR's twin tuners are both in use.
Although the TVonics DTR-HV250 is British-built, it's still got one of those wretched French Scart sockets. Nevertheless, these are crucial for older, non-HD sets.
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