Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
- Simple and easy to use, Effective recording capabilities
- Expensive, No way to back up recordings, Limited features, Awkward interface
A pricey option, this is a product that should appeal to users who are only looking for a unit with twin high definition tuners and a hard drive.
Price$ 849.95 (AUD)
Philips' DVR5100 is a capable device for users looking for high definition digital reception and recording functionality. However, its relatively limited list of functions combined with a high price, make it an unsuitable choice for a majority of users. Lacking DVD support, its overall usability is quite limited. Dual high definition tuners and a 160GB hard drive make it an adequate recording device, but it's hampered by its interface.
Digital TV reception on the DVR5100 is quite good, and it picked up all local channels quite quickly. Image quality was respectable, without noticeable flaws in either standard or high definition video. It's a good option for those without an integrated digital tuner in their current TV; most users who have recently purchased a new TV will find that it comes equipped with digital reception. Nevertheless, the dual tuners and high definition capabilities make it an attractive product for those looking for something extra.
Recording is quite streamlined, although at the same time lacking advanced options. One-touch recording works well, with the DVR5100 automatically setting the recording to end at the end of the program. Similarly, recording can easily be set to stop after a pre-determined time, adjustable in half-hour intervals up to six hours. Users concerned that the 160GB hard drive might not be large enough for their needs should also be aware that the Philips DVR7100 is available, which ships with a larger 250GB hard drive. One of the only downsides is the lack of a way to get recordings off the hard drive. Without a DVD recorder, Ethernet, or USB support, recordings can't be saved to other media, forcing users to delete recordings if more space is required.
The included time-shift buffer, an almost required feature on set-top boxes these days, works well, giving users the ability to pause live TV. A slight downside is that the time-shift buffer must be manually started, meaning that users don't have the ability to spontaneously rewind live TV. Apart from that, it's one of the better time-shift buffers we've seen, for its simplicity; it helps to make the DVR5100 an attractive product for inexperienced users.
The timer function is similar in its functionality and ease of use; it works well and is simple enough to be operated by almost anyone. Combined with the time-shift buffer and dual tuners, it makes the DVR5100 a useful and functional recording unit.
One let-down of the DVR5100 is its interface. Continuing the trend of simplicity, it unfortunately serves to make things harder to use rather than easier. Setting up a favourites menu (a very important feature, with digital TV's multitude of channels) is an awkward and almost hidden process. We also found several options to be missing or limited; the lack of adjustable recording modes is one of the most notable.
Overall, despite a few omissions and oversimplifications, the DVR5100 is a highly functional device, but unfortunately, one which still fails to justify its high asking price. Those in the market for a dual high definition tuner set-top box with the ability to record programs to a hard drive will be well-served by the DVR5100, but others will be more likely to find better value in other products.
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