Reviewer: Anthony Fordham
This whole idea of having to sit in front of free-to-air TV and wait for the network to broadcast what you want to see is very 20th Century. Buying a PVR (personal video recorder; aka DVR or digital video recorder) capable of timeshift and recording nearly a day?s worth of TV onto its hard drive won?t take all the tedium out of network TV – you’re still stuck with their schedule – but it will allow you to watch your ‘stories’ when you want, not when the network decides to run them 15 minutes late after Australian Idol drags on.
The LST-5403P gives you all this, in a big but powerful package which almost, but not quite, works perfectly.
The device has two HD digital tuners and a 250GB hard drive at its core. This allows the PVR to record one program while you watch another.
Or at least, that’s what a basic unit with two tuners would do. The LST-5403P is a bit more clever and makes best use of both tuners, as well as the ability of hard drive technology to make multiple simultaneous recordings.
It’s possible to set one tuner to record live TV, then set the timer to start recording on the other tuner at a specified time and date. Or you can record on one tuner while using timeshift on the other – this works only for one of the tuners though, and figuring out which is which is one of the slight frustrations of this machine, because it?s all transparent to the user.
While this machine is technologically complex, it manages to be simple to use because LG doesn’t go overboard with functionality. The interface is large, clear and has white text on a dark background, which is much easier to use than dark-on-white text. The EPG provides verbose descriptions of the current and next program.
There are also a number of editing options for recordings, but this PVR lacks ‘long-play’ capability – the amount of space each recording takes up depends on what resolution the show is broadcast at. With 250GB on board though, you should have no trouble fitting more than a day’s worth of mixed SD and HD programs onto the drive.
As mentioned, the strength of the LST-5403P is its ease-of-use. The menu is straightforward, the controls clear and mostly intuitive.
When recording we noticed a couple of odd glitches. Trying to watch a program while we were recording it (not using timeshift) revealed regular but short blackouts, presumably as the unit dumped cached video to the hard drive. When using timeshift, we ended up about 15 minutes behind live TV and when our recorded show finished and the next show began on live TV, our recording started glitching and showing frames from live TV. A minute or so later, our recorded show stabilised but the audio was from live TV! We were unable to replicate this odd glitch in later timeshifts.
We’d probably advise regularly formatting the hard drive rather than trying to keep ancient recordings for many years. The lack of output options is disappointing – this unit would be awesome with a DVD burner on board.
Glitches notwithstanding, the LST-5403P is a powerful PVR that can handle the full gamut of Australian digital broadcast formats (lack of 1080p in this unit is no big deal in this country), and gives you lots of recording options thanks to the dual tuners.
Your recordings are trapped on the machine for all time, but if you use it primarily for timeshift and for timer-recording regular programs your schedule can’t accommodate, you’ll find the LST-5403P a very handy addition to your AV stack.