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Sony RDR-HXD995: Jack of all trades, master of set-top boxes

If your living room is sweltering from the combined heat output of dozens of boxes, check out a Sony DVD player that'll upscale to 1080p and record Freeview to a hard drive

Our living room is getting out of hand. You walk in to a wall of hot air, with electronics stacked floor to ceiling and one small seat in the corner where you can perch, to enjoy the fruits of our dangerous wiring and potentially fatal heat output. As much as we like to discourage strangers from disrupting our audio-visual pleasure, a reduction in the number of boxes would be most welcome. Enter the Sony RDR-HXD995, a DVD player with DivX support and a 250GB Freeview PVR.

As you'd expect from a high-end PVR, you can pause and rewind live TV, start watching a programme on a delay while it's still being recorded and, of course, setting a timer recording is as easy as pressing a button.

Like most Freeview PVRs with DVD recorders built-in, there's no second tuner for recording one channel and watching a second. You do, however, get the extra flexibility of being able to record from external sources, which some would argue is a more useful feature, considering many TVs have Freeview built-in these days. If you've got Sky or Virgin, the ability to record from these sources via Scart is pretty handy. This being Sony, you can even plug in a camcorder via FireWire (it's called iLink in the Sonyverse) and store the video on the hard drive or DVD.

The ability to handle DivX and XviD is a handy (although pretty much universal) addition to a DVD player these days. We're still glad to see it on a Sony though, because there was a time when it wouldn't consider allowing such functionality -- the downside of owning TV and movie studios. You can also play and record to pretty much all of the DVD formats, including both writeable and re-writeable discs.

These days you need to be able to upscale to 1080p to be one of the cool kids, and we're pleased to say Sony won't be getting its head flushed down the toilet, because it can upscale with the best of them.

You can get the HXD995 right now, for a smidge under £300. Considering how much it can do, this strikes us as a fair price. We'll be reviewing it soon, so keep an eye on the relevant reviews channel. -Ian Morris