I’ve already done a quick first impressions piece about the T2400, and I’m aware some of you have been waiting a while for a more detailed look, so here are some extra notes. Don’t forget to check the photo gallery, too.
I wouldn’t go as far as calling this a full review – I hope to be doing that in due course for Register Hardware. Consider this more an extended set of impressions. There’s yet another firmware to test, which I’ve not tried yet – it came out the week before Xmas, when I had flu, and requires a hard drive format too, so I have some viewing to catch up on first, before I can report on which issues it resolves.
There’s the usual Freeview+ HD functionality, including series link, and keyword search (though you can’t save keywords and have them searched for automatically, as with say a Topfield and TAPs).
There’s no network media playback at the moment, nor any support for iPlayer. There is, however a built in FTP server. Before you get too excited, you can’t use that to retrieve recordings from the hard drive. It’s sole purpose is to allow you to transfer media files onto the unit, so that you can play them back from the built in disk. That’s not perhaps as useful as having things streamed over the network, but on the positive side, it means you don’t have to set up a NAS, and even if you don’t have a fast home network, by playing from the internal disk drive, you won’t get problems with stuttering.
More extensive network functionality may, apparently, come later – but as with all these things, do consider that carefully; as some Panasonic owners will tell you, sometimes you can wait an awfully long time for software updates, and the best thing is to consider only what you know a product can do when you buy it.
When you’re watching a program, a quick press of the Up button on the remote displays the progress bar; you can nudge your way through a show using the left and right buttons, which is roughly 20-30 seconds a time, as far as I can see. Press Yellow to jump a configurable amount, eg four minutes for an ad skip. However, a couple of times I found that doing this caused the sound to drop out; starting and stopping playback resolved it.
Also, if you pause, say when the adverts come on so you can go make a cup of tea, you have to resume playback before you can use the jump buttons. That might not bother you, but I find it a touch irksome.
Another thing I’m not so keen on is the EPG display; as you can see from the photo, there’s a very limited time window in it, and you also can’t get an overview of a single channel.
More annoyingly – and hopefully going to be fixed soon – is a flickering that I find very noticeable when holding down the arrow keys to scroll through the EPG, something that you’ll be doing a lot of, thanks to the time window.
Moving through the EPG, pressing OK changes channel; the picture in the top left changes, but you have to press Exit to return to live TV.
On the whole, aside from the niggles mentioned above, performance has been good. Particularly with the BBC, recordings have started and stopped at exactly the right time. On Channel 4, I’ve often noticed the end of Grand Designs being cut off, but that seems quite a common issue with C4 and their accurate recording signals in my experience, so I’m reluctant to put it down to the T2400.
All recordings have completed ok; I’ve had a couple with glitches on the HD channels, but that’s most likely down to the fact that the recorder is the final device in a long stream of PVRs fed from an unamplified aerial, rather than any intrinsic problem itself.
Recommendations are handled pretty well; press Green when the prompt appears on screen, and you can see all the details of the program, then press OK to set a recording if you wish – though it seems to set only a single one, rather than a series. I had to manually set Upstairs Downstairs as a series.
I’ve not done extensive testing of media playback yet, as I know this is an area that’s still being developed. JPEG slideshows work ok, and so did a test MKV file that I copied over. An MPEG 2 (.mpg) and an AVCHD (.mts) file didn’t even show up in the file browser, and while an XVID .avi file was listed, playback gave a blank screen – though the firmware version I have waiting to install does specifically include an update for DivX, which will probably resolve that too.
Finally, please remember that all the notes here are based on the current firmware I have on the unit I’m playing with. There’s still the one received before Xmas to play with, and there will doubtless be some more before the T2400 finds its way into people’s homes.