A decent DVD/HDD machine is let down by poor usability and sluggish control – it’s also at the top end of the price bracketWrite your own review
- Easy on the eye
- clear remote control
- good specs
- faithful recordings
- decent DVD picture
- Cumbersome control system
- menus are confusing
- time lag when selecting channels or recordings
It is to the company's credit that Philips products always stand out from the crowd. Whether it's in terms of aesthetic appearance or the on-screen interface, Philips product tends to stick in the memory.
The Ambilight TV screens are perhaps the finest case in point, the screen's surrounding glow being unlike anything else on the market.
Sure enough, as we look to run through the set-up menus, we're greeted by an interface that's laid out and operates quite differently from its rivals, and in this instance, it's not for the better.
The interface is confusing and controls are sluggish to operate. Still, we get there in the end and tune in the digital and analogue tuners via the two separate aerial connections – use the loop through cable supplied.
There's plenty of hard disk space
In terms of features and functionality this Philips has plenty in its favour. There's a big 250GB hard disk drive, an HDMI output and upscaling to 1080p video.
You can play DivX, MP3 and JPEG discs, while it will record to DVD+-R/RW as well as dual-layer DVD+R and DVD-R discs. You'll also find a USB 2.0 input for playing music or displaying pictures, while the ability to pause live TV is here, too.
Watching the TV picture it's another instance of good but not great, the Philips lacking the overall picture cleanliness of the Sony RDR-HXD890 and the vivid colours of the Panasonic DMR-EX768. Switching channels the sluggish interface rears its head again too, the sound taking time to kick-in as you flick.
The top 'HQ' recording mode delivers some 40 hours of recording time, and we'd advise you to stick to this mode – not least as you need to go in to the menus to change it.
Recordings suffer from TV tuner flaws
Still, recordings are faithful, but naturally the slight picture flaws found with the digital TV tuner are transposed along with your recorded content.
When it comes to playing this content back there's again a delay with the sound, meaning we found it impossible to ever hear the first couple of seconds of our recordings.
Switch to DVD playback and this Philips makes a fine stab, delivering detailed dark scenes if not quite the vitality in turn to brighter hues. Nevertheless, it's a decent picture coupled with clear if lacklustre sound.
We don't think it's quite the match of the best recorders in this class based on picture and recording performance alone, but the Philips is comfortably the weakest in terms of usability. As a result we'd be wary of recommending somebody parts with £260 of their hard-earned for this machine