The TechniSat HDFS is a single-tuner set-top box, rather than a fully fledged PVR. Nevertheless, it's a lot cheaper than its PVR rivals – not that it appears low-rent in any way.
Build quality is good, and the TechniSat's fascia-mounted display is a welcome addition, making it both classier to look at and easier to live with than the Sagem DTR94250S and Goodmans GFSDTR500HD. It's a shame the remote control isn't quite so impressive to behold, although it works well enough.
The HDFS is also impressively flexible. Unusually, it includes two USB sockets, one on the front, one on the rear, plus an SD/MS/MMC card reader and Compact Flash reader: all are able to support replay of a variety of digital media file formats, so it's easy to display movies, music and pictures on your TV.
There's a wired Ethernet connection to support streaming from your PC too, and the company even produces a USB-WLAN adaptor to allow for wireless data transfer if you prefer.
There's no word on BBC iPlayer support, but given TechniSat's evident keenness on media integration, it's a fair bet the HDFS will follow Humax and provide easy access to it in the months to come.
Adding a hard-disk is easy
Those USB inputs can also be used to support an external hard-disk too, so if you want you can upgrade the HDFS to become a basic Freesat HD recorder: just plug in a suitable drive and away you go.
Of course, as it's a single-tuner design, you can't watch a programme while recording another, but as an
easy and affordable way to expand your options, it's a neat feature.
So far, so impressive, and in action the good news continues: for its price, the HDFS is terrific. Image quality is almost on a par with the Humax Foxsat-HDR, with sharply defined edges and impressive motion stability, while colours are natural.
We also like the TechniSat's scaler-bypass feature: like the Humax, you can set it to output video in its native form.
The HDFS is a fine receiver. True, for only £70 more, you can buy the Sagem DTR94250S and enjoy out-of-the-box twin-tuner PVR capability, but the TechniSat's a slicker, more appealing product in many other ways. If the Humax is out of reach for you, we reckon this is clearly the next best alternative.