The affordability of hard disk drives over recent months has affected a number of areas in the wider world of AV. We've seen bigger and bigger MP3 players, for a fraction of the cost, plus huge hard disk drives in NAS devices and HDD recorders.
Now it's the turn of Freeview PVRs, with Topfield stepping-up to deliver an almighty 500GB of storage with its brand new TF5810PVR.
This is a Freeview+ recorder, which means that the unit has, in the eyes of the powers that be at Freeview, achieved a certain quality standard. Well, we'll be the judges of that. It also means the device has features such as series recording, pause live TV and an 8-day EPG.
The inclusion of two digital TV tuners means you can record two channels at once, and watch a third pre-recorded one off the hard disk while you do so. In other words, these new units aren't left behind by – whisper it – Sky+.
Round the back of the unit you have the standard Scart connections plus the all-important addition of an HDMI out, which allow you to upscale to 720p/1080i, while there are two CI slots for TV cards.
Excellent menus and navigation
Up and running the menus are excellent and navigation of the system is intuitive, meaning we're soon merrily recording anything that takes our fancy on that huge hard disk drive, or are we?
A quick check of the HDD turns up a blank and it turns out that any clip less than "about 3 minutes", to quote the manual, isn't saved. We think this is rather strange – but if you know this, and remember you have the pause and rewind live TV function, it's not the end of the world.
Aside from this, we're very impressed. The tuner quality is excellent, giving a very clean, natural and balanced picture, with excellent detail and smooth motion, noticeably better than rival PVRs that we've seen.
The upscaler is fine and will prove handy with older TVs, but if you've bought a good quality set in the last 12 months then that will do the job just as well. Recordings are faithful and of course there's bags of room. Whichever way you look at it, this PVR heads straight to the top of the field.