Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Toshiba HDD-J35 HD
- Full HDTV support; HDMI, component and RGB output; huge hard disk
- It ain't pretty
As long as you're not too worried about how it looks, the HDD-J35 is an awesome PVR, with outstanding HDTV support.
Price$ 1,699.00 (AUD)
It's not a pretty device, looking rather like the twin of a VHS player my parents bought in the late 80s--and having an on-screen display that looks like it comes from the same era--but under the hood, the Toshiba is quite the beast. It's a rare full HDTV-supporting PVR with all the bells and whistles, including HDMI and RGB output.
The back of the huge box is home to more inputs and outputs than you can count. It has two aerial loop-thoughs, component in and output, digital audio output via coax or fibre, stereo RCA output for both standard definition displays and HD displays, the RGB port, the HDMI port, S-Video out and component and RCA input. It also has a serial port for software updates. The huge remote that comes with the Toshiba matches the box's lack of style, but it is very functional, offering one-touch access to most PVR functions.
The HDD-J35 has two tuners, which can be used for picture-in-picture viewing or recording one show while watching another. You only need one aerial source, since the Toshiba has a loop-though for the second aerial.
Recording television with the Toshiba is dead easy. Programming is simple, and it supports EPG-based programming and also keeps EPG info with recorded programs, naming them appropriately. Accessing recorded programs is a one-touch operation, and the management of these programs is extremely well implemented.
We recorded a good half-hour of HDTV with the HDD-J35, and it didn't blink. There were no frame skips, no noticeable hard disk churning and perfect picture quality. Even with a TV running at 576i, the HDTV recording looked perfect.
The HDD-J35 comes with a huge 160GB hard disk, capable of storing in excess of 80 hours of SDTV and 20 hours of HDTV. You can also timeshift using the hard disk, although unlike most PVRs, timeshifting is not automatic with the Toshiba--you have to start it manually.
It's not attractive by any means--although it does have a useful digital display on the front which tells you your current channel and where you are in a recorded show--but the Toshiba has it where it counts. It's a real videophile's dream box, although you can expect to pay heavily for it.
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