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Sony SVR-S500 PVR: Twice as nice

With dual digital tuners, Sony's latest PVR lets you watch one programme while you record another

Reality TV addicts will be aware of a daily dilemma presenting itself at around 10pm every night. Do you watch Pete and Nikki's blossoming relationship on Channel 4's Big Brother or take guilty pleasure in seeing Sophie Anderton nearing a nervous breakdown in ITV's Celebrity Love Island?

If you want to watch both you'll need access to a time-travelling machine or a recording device with two TV tuners. Sony's new hard disk drive recorder, the SVR-S500, won't take you back to the future, but it will let you watch one programme while you record another through its dual Freeview tuners.

A dual tuner is not included in many PVRs at present, but is a useful feature as it means you won't miss your favourite programme again due to a clash in scheduling, and won't face that classic stand-off with your partner when Corrie and football share the same airtime.

The sleek, inconspicuous design is fitted with an 80GB hard drive, which lets you save up to 80 hours of TV footage in extended play and 40 hours using the higher-quality standard play. You can pre-program timer recordings up to eight days in advance, which is useful if you're away on holiday. And the programme guide means you only have to highlight the desired show and let the technology do the hard stuff. We found the new graphical menu system easy to navigate and find recordings.

The hard drive nature of the device also allows various time-slip functions, allowing you to defy the laws of physics by pausing or rewinding live TV (or fast-forward through ads), through simultaneous recording and playback.

Sony's SVR-S500 is available now, priced at £249. Expect a review soon. -RA