Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
If you read my other reviews of personal video recorders, you will notice I wax lyrical about their abilities to talk to a computer, or even the internet, and download electronic program guides. Such features come at a cost.
Shed those features, and the cost, and you have the Sony SVRHD700 PVR.
This high definition personal video recorder has two tuners, increasing the flexibility of its recording capabilities. And it has a 160GB hard disc drive on which to store your recordings. That might seem a bit light given some of the competition, since it is only good for up to 45-odd hours of HD recording with even the lowest resolution stations. But for $100 more you can purchase the otherwise identical SVRHD900, which has a 250GB hard disk drive.
The features that this unit lacks are mostly concerned with communications. You will look in vain for a USB socket or an Ethernet connection, let alone wireless networking. But do you really need such things? If all you want to do is shift standard and high definition programs to a time more convenient for your viewing, then this unit has the goods.
And those include a Picture-in-Picture function, so that you can keep an eye on one program while primarily watching another. The video output is best via the HDMI socket, but there are also component video, S-Video and composite video sockets. Unusually for this category of product, the latter two operate at standard definition even while you are delivering high definition to your display from one of the first two. That means you can conveniently connect it up to your DVD recorder for archiving programs of interest.
The unit features Sony’s standard menu structure: boring, but effective. During my time with the recorder, it also proved to be reliable. But it did have a number of quirks.
Perhaps the most irritating was its tendency to split recordings. Sony, being the good corporate citizen that it is, has set up the recorder to pay attention to the ”G’, ‘PG’ and so forth ratings that are digitally transmitted along with the programs. If this changed during the recording (eg. one program finished and another started), then it would terminate the current recording and immediately commence a new recording. Since it was impossible to set a name for a program when programming the timer (you can change it after it has recorded), I ended up with a proliferation of ambiguously titled recordings in the list.
There were an excellent set of navigation keys, with very fast response and quick resumption once the skip had been conducted. But the rewind key was ridiculous. Even at the slowest rewind speed it seemed to be going at least at ten times speed, so to reverse up a dozen seconds or so required considerable dexterity on the remote control.
But, in reality, these whinges have to be taken in context: an $899 context in fact. This is clearly the best value high definition personal video recorder currently on the Australian market. Check it out.