Until recently, Samsung made HD PVRs for Sky. With that deal now over, Samsung has taken the logical step of building them for itself. There are two models to begin with: the BD-DT7800 Freeview HD model, and this SMT-S7800 Freesat model.
Specification puts it in competition with Humax’s all-conquering Foxsat-HDR.
You get a 500GB hard disk capable of storing 250 hours of standard-definition programmes or 120 hours of HD; twin tuners mean you can record two channels at once or record one and watch another; and there’s provision for BBC iPlayer, (in the near future) ITV Player, and playback of media files via USB.
While not quite a fully fledged media streamer, the Samsung can also access JPEGs, MP3s and AVI movie files across a network, along with YouTube, too.
There’s even an option to connect to different satellites manually, making it possible to receive foreign channels.
While that specification is certainly impressive, Samsung has also put a great deal of effort into the presentation and usability of the device.
Great to use, great to watch
From the touch-sensitive buttons on the fascia, to the sharp, colourful graphics and intuitive menu system, the S7800 is a pleasure to use. It’s a pleasure to watch, too.
HD channels are vibrant and brilliantly detailed, while standard-def is clean and controlled. Even an old show such as Terry & June looks smooth and subtle.
True, there’s not a huge variance in picture quality between Freesat boxes, but this is certainly among the best.
Add the kind of weighty, crisp audio that makes the most of the 5.1 mix of BBC HD’s Later With Jools Holland and you’ve got a very fine all-round performance.
Take the impressive presentation and usability into account and this Samsung will give the Humax a real run for its money.