Digihome PVR160 £140

29th Feb 2008 | 12:11

Digihome PVR160

Not pretty, but still an able performer

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

A decent enough first PVR, but picture quality isn't great and dual recording is sorely missed

Like:

Features; Connectivity; Ease of use

Dislike:

No dual recording; Lacklustre picture

The PVR160 is exclusive to Argos, and offers twin Freeview tuners and a 160GB hard disk that can hold around 77 hours of programmes. It's a less expensive model and this is reflected in the unit's drab design. It's one of those generic silver boxes with a basic arrangement of buttons and a flap on the right that conceals a panel where a CAM slot would have been if it hadn't been blocked off.

The rear panel is better equipped, boasting two Scart sockets for simultaneous connection to a recorder and TV output that comprises RGB, S-video and composite, while the 'VCR' Scart offers S-video and composite.

You also get an optical digital audio output, stereo audio output and regular composite video output. The twin tuners are a pleasing inclusion on such a low-priced machine, as they enable you to record one channel and watch another, but the deck stops short of allowing you to record two channels at the same time.

Elsewhere, there's a Timeshift feature, which lets you pause live TV for up to two hours, but you can't retrospectively decide to record the content stored in the buffer. Chasing playback, subtitle recording, a picture-in-picture mode and favourite lists complete a fairly run-of-the-mill feature line-up.

The unit is easy to install, a doddle to use and slick in operation. The EPG is basic and unlikely to confound beginners, with a Sky-like grid layout that works well, though a thumbnail showing the current channel would have been a nice inclusion. The recording library is equally well designed, but again we're disappointed by the lack of provision for editing recordings.

The whole interface is controlled with a remote handset that makes up in ergonomics what it lacks in attractiveness. Initial channel tuning is very quick and it even gives the name of the transmitter emitting the signal.

Clear messages

Broadcasts are stable and robust, not falling foul of any interference during our test. The picture quality is magnificent too, delivering the kind of striking clarity and bright, sharp colours that we'd expect from Freeview broadcasts. Recording quality is solid, with the same strong colour reproduction and high detail levels as live broadcasts, and the unit doesn't introduce any additional noise into the picture either.

A recording of BBC News 24 best demonstrates the deck's high recording quality. The bold, richly saturated captions and colourful graphics need to be contained without bleeding and the PVR160 does this extremely well. Movement is also smoothly rendered, though there's no avoiding the pixel noise during tricky crowd shots with lots of moving detail.

Sonically, the PVR160 presents no problems when rigged up to a TV using a Scart cable, or when using the dedicated audio outputs.

Overall, the Digihome is equipped with the basic features that make PVRs so appealing and technophobes will appreciate how simple it is to use.

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