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LG 50PB2DR

If you like simplicity, you'll find this all-in-one 50-inch HD tuner/video recorder/plasma TV combo a very appealing proposition.

Upside
One of the first to leverage the appeal of an all-in-one box concept, LG has progressed from having a built-in digital tuner onboard its flagship TVs to including a digital recorder as well. This allows you to not only receive HD signals without a set-top box, but also record these same broadcasts without having to plug in an external DVR.

Its 250GB internal hard drive has a two hour buffer that continuously records what's on, so if you are interrupted while watching your favourite show you can simply hit the pause button and pick up at the exact point you left off when you return. In addition to pausing, you can also rewind and fast-forward buffered content as you wish. Yes, that means you can easily replay a glorious goal or disputed penalty as many times as you like, and even better, skip through the commercial breaks.

Not only can you timeshift by pausing and rewinding live TV, but the 50PB2DR has a one-touch record button if you think you won't return. Advance timer recordings are also easy to set up. Its recording capacity should store approximately 40 hours of HD TV or 100 hours of SD TV.

This 1366 x 768 pixel 50-inch plasma sports a brightness level of 1000 cd/m2 and a 10,000:1 contrast ratio. There are 2 HDMI ports should you want to hook up external HD devices, such as a DVD player, home theatre system or games console.

The best bit is that you can control its playback, recording, pausing and rewind functions with one fairly straightforward remote control and -- oh yes -- the stand swivels.

Downside
While this TV lets you record to your heart's content, understand that you will also need to eventually hit the delete key when the hard drive fills up, as there is no way to archive shows you've recorded to an external device.

This is a big screen to begin with, but adding the hard drive adds even more weight and bulk. At 62.2kg and measuring 1383 x 377 x 913mm, it's probably not a TV you'll want to wall mount.

The combo concept only makes sense if you've not already invested in a set-top box and hard drive recorder. Plus, if you still want to view DVDs, you'll have to connect an external player or recorder anyway.

Outlook
You could pay less by buying the components separately, but the simplicity of having a TV with a built-in HD set top box and video recorder is bound to attract many technophobes who just want an easy way to record their favourite HD shows.

Note: This built-in HD DVR recorder is also available in LG's new 42-inch LCD TV, model 42LC2DR, for AU$5,375.

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