Topfield TRF-2460 Masterpiece HD Plus review: Topfield TRF-2460 Masterpiece HD Plus
Design and features
The Topfield TRF-2460 Masterpiece HD Plus is distinguished more by its long-winded and slightly pompous name than its design, which consists of an inoffensive black box with a set of basic controls on the front of the unit, as well as an LCD readout. Next to that, there's a flip-up panel housing two USB ports.
Out the back you'll find an array of inputs and outputs accompanying the antenna in and out jacks. On the input ledger there's a port each for eSATA, USB and Ethernet connections. Outbound there's composite, component, digital audio, coaxial and HDMI ports.
If you've used an older Topfield PVR or set-top box and were left underwhelmed by the interface, the TRF-2460, like the TRF-7170 we reviewed recently, sports a more modern iteration that's recognisably Topfield, but substantially better.
Unlike the TRF-7170, which uses the same Topfield remote since time immemorial, the 2460 is paired with a chunkier, more distinctive unit that features a white underside and silver-painted rubber buttons. It looks a whole lot nicer than the usual home theatre black candy bar, but on the bottom third of the device is an array of too similar-looking buttons that's impossible to use without glancing down and away from the television.
Watching and recording television
The main menu is split up into Recording, Entertainment, Settings, Installation and Information. In Recording you'll, naturally, find everything that you've recorded, as well as a link to the electronic program guide (EPG) and anything that you've programmed.
Blessed with two tuners, the 2460 is able to record two networks at once. Indeed, it's able to record up to four separate streams at once while you watch a fifth. So, for example, you can record 7Two, 7mate, GEM and Nine simultaneously, while watching Seven or Go live.
Unfortunately, if you're beginning to strain the 1TB hard drive's capacity, loading the list of recorded programs will take a little longer than it should. By default recordings are set to playback from the beginning instead of where you left off. The TRF-7170's 1TB hard disk should be good, according to our calculations, for between 505 hours of standard-definition footage and 175 hours of high-definition sport.
The regular over-the-air EPG grid works fine and dandy with a horizontal list view that allows for easy comparison between channels. From here you can set the PVR to record one episode, on a regular schedule or automatically record any instances of a particular program (intelligent record). It's a shame, though, that you can't select a currently showing program and record that from the grid.
An easy to set-up USB wireless network adapter is included with the 2460, allowing you to easily access the Ice TV service. A three-month trial is included with the Topfield, allowing you to sample not only Ice TV's upgraded EPG, but, more importantly, its remote recording capability. As on Foxtel's iQ PVR, you can queue up programs to record via the web or a mobile phone app.
Non-TV media can be accessed from the Entertainment menu. JPEG images, DivX and MKV videos, and MP3 music files can be enjoyed from USB drives or eSATA hard disks. They can also be copied across to the unit's 1TB hard disk, while TV recordings can be copied the other way, although you'll need a copy of KMPlayer to view recordings on a PC. The lack of a resume play option for DivX and MKV files, as well as the unit's inability to default to the last media storage accessed, limits the 2460's usefulness as a media hub.
For those seeking a bit of light entertainment, the 2460 has a built-in YouTube app that works reasonably well. Video searching is frustrating as the remote control is a poor substitute for a keyboard. Once you've found the video you're looking for, it's quite possible that trying to view it will result in a "video not found" error or, occasionally, crash the PVR.
The TRF-2460 does what it's set out to do well and, if you don't mind paying a small monthly fee, the Ice TV feature is handy, but the almost identically specified TRF-7170 undercuts it by a handy margin, at least on the RRP. Unless you can find a wonderful in-store discount, we'd recommend the TRF-7170 any day.