Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett
The highly regarded Topfield TF5000PVRt standard definition personal video recorder has been evolving for a few years now. First there was the Masterpiece edition, which featured a more informative display and a width that matched regular home theatre components. And now there is the TF6000PVRt, essentially the Masterpiece edition, with the addition of wireless networking.
So, you might ask, why would anyone want wireless networking in a personal video recorder? Well, the propeller-head community (of which yours truly is a proud member) sometimes like to download the video recorded on a PVR to their computers, where they can edit them and maybe even burn them to DVDs. But for the broader community there is a better reason: IceTV.
TV stations have the capability of transmitting with their programs a full seven day electronic program guide. Unfortunately, they don’t (although ABC does transmit a 24 hour guide). So the only way to realise this convenience is through a third party supplier, such as IceTV.
The 5000 series PVRs always supported IceTV, but you had to drive it from your computer. The TF6000PVRt features an ability to update itself automatically, via your wireless home computer network. After setting it up, the whole thing becomes transparent.
The TF6000PVRt’s two tuners allow you to record two different programs at once, of course, and also use a Picture-in-Picture function so that you can see what’s going on with another station in a window in the corner.
A 200GB hard disk drive is provided for your recordings, and this is good for up to 90 hours of recording, depending on the station.
There is also an always-on time shift function, so that any time during your viewing you can pause live TV, or rewind up to an hour.
As with the 5000 series, the TF6000PVRt proved to be utterly reliable with its recording. Whenever I set a timer, it dutifully fired on time and caught for my later viewing whatever I had asked it to. Not once were there any reception problems.
Since I have an account with IceTV (you get a free three month trial with purchase), I set up this side of its operation and this made the unit a delight to use. If I wanted to record something, all I had to do was scroll through the EPG to the relevant program and press Record. It couldn’t be simpler.
The major drawback with this unit was during playback of recordings. There is a convenient thirty second skip key and both fast forward and rewind, but the maximum speed of the former is 6x and of the latter, just 3x. It seemed like it took forever to traverse twenty second real-time intervals.
The picture quality was good, although the colours were a little pumped using the component video output, requiring me to adjust the projector for that input. The unit would really benefit from a HDMI output.
Nonetheless, if you want excellent reliability, twin tuner convenience, and the easiest possible access to the IceTV EPG, look very closely at the Topfield TF6000PVRt.