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Philips DVDR5520H review: Philips DVDR5520H

The Good Picture and sound quality; design.

The Bad Menus are quite slow at times and rather annoying.

The Bottom Line Not a bad all-rounder. We like the picture and sound quality and there are enough features to justify the asking price, but we were annoyed by how the menu system operated at times

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7.5 Overall

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We're all for reducing the number of boxes under our TVs, so products such as the Philips DVDR5520 are perfect because they offer DVD, Freeview PVR and even some limited support for video you download from the Internet.

So will this £240 box offer what we need in an all-in-one machine, or is it going to be a case of promising the world but failing to deliver?

The DVDR5520 is smaller than previous Philips models that did a similar number of things. It's actually pretty sleek and attractive with a simple front panel that features a display, some navigational controls and a disc tray. Beneath a hinged panel is a USB socket for watching content on a memory stick, an S-Video input and a composite input for hooking up a camcorder.

The remote control is a basic, cheap-looking thing. It's actually not bad to use though, and features a hybrid click-wheel and four-way directional controller. There aren't a massive number of buttons cluttering its surface, but what is has will be useful.

At the rear, you'll find an HDMI socket -- for connecting the machine to a HD TV -- and a pair of Scart sockets. You also get component video out, S-Video out and composite video out -- so a pretty decent range of inputs and outputs.

You'll also notice a rather curious loop-through cable. This is something that's common on many devices like this, but we don't see why it couldn't be concealed within the unit. Ultimately though, it's not going to ruin your life -- it just looks clumsy.

The DVDR5520's main selling point is its built-in Freeview PVR, which has a 160GB hard drive, which should enable you to store a decent amount of TV. Happily, once you fill the hard drive, you can back-up the video to a DVD and keep it forever.

There is also the ability to watch video stored on either a USB memory stick or a DVD-R/CD-R -- something that will appeal if you have DivX content downloaded from the Internet. We're always thrilled to see this functionality and it is becoming more commonplace these days.

The Philips helps you manage your viewing with a system called Guide Plus+. That's a stupid name, we're sure you'll agree, with too many pluses for its own good. It's actually a reasonably good system, but we did encounter some irritations once the box had been unplugged at the wall, which meant for some reason it couldn't find the EPG data. This would mean that scheduled recordings failed.

On the plus side, the Guide Plus+ system is well laid out, with familiar channel logos to help you track down what you want to watch, as well as an incredibly useful search function, allowing you to find programmes of a specific genre to view. This is handy if you want to look for random movies to record when there's no new episode of The Apprentice on.

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