I recently published a well-deserved critique of Topfield, makers of the TF5800 PVR. But it’s worth recalling some of the things that their boxes do really cleverly – or can be made to do – that make them still the PVR of choice for many people.
Last night, I was catching up on some recordings on another PVR I’m testing. After I finished that, I realised that a new series of Silent Witness had started 20 minutes ago, and I was completely unaware, so hadn’t set a timer.
A quick glance at the front panel of the Toppy revealed that it was fortuitously on BBC1 – I switch mine off to reboot once a week, but otherwise leave it on – which meant that everything from the previous hour was stored on the hard drive.
So, switching over the the Toppy, I was able to rewind back to the beginning of Silent Witness.
More cleverly, thanks to a TAP I use called ImproBox, and a patch in the firmware, all I had to do was to press the record button, and the unit went right back to the start of the buffered TV, turned it into a recording, with the end time set to stop four minutes after the scheduled end of Silent Witness. At the same time, it automatically set two bookmarks in the recording, one at the start of each programme it contained.
So, a quick press of the green key jumped me straight over whatever was on before Silent Witness, directly to the start of the programme. And all, essentially, with just one press of the Record button.
That sort of flexibility is what many of us will miss, if we have to move to one of the current crop of Freeview HD recorders.