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Every time we look at a PVR they seem to get bigger and smaller at the
smae time. Bigger as in increase hard disk capacity and smaller in
actual physical size. TVonics has a new PVR that manages to be
Tardis-like. Its bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

The new DTR-Z500 manages to cram in 500GB of disk space into a space
measuring 185 by 70 by 240mm. The wavy front is a nod to newer styling
than the previous 250GB version. On this there is a hint of what’s
going on inside with some flashing lights.

Not only is it small, but the manufacturer touts its green credentials
as well. It claims that it only consumes 1.5W in standby and less than
15W when switched on.

As per the norm nowadays, it sports twin tuners, manig that you can
record one channel while watching another or indeed record two channels
at once. It is Freeview+ compliant, this means that you can also pause
live TV, set a series to record automatically and access an eight day
EPG.

On the back is two scart sockets (in/out), an aerial in and out (sadly
no RF modulattor for connecting it to an old telly). One scart socket
is RGB and S-Video compatible while the other is just composite only.
There is no HDMI port here so there is no upscaling to near-HD with
this box. But there is an optical out for digital sound.

{mospagebreak}The box comes with its own Sky-like remote control (which also bear
similarity to the remotes that come with Thomson PVRs). The EPG is
simple and effective, if a little harsh on our eyes.

As it packs in 500GB of storage, it shoul record around 200 hours of
programming. The thing sets up really quickly pretty much by itself
once powered up.

In use, there are a few new features that sets it apart from previous
models and other PVRs. First, there is picture in picture mode. Pretty
self-explanatory, you can watch your main programme while previewing
another channel (handy when you want to start watching another
programme).  This preview screen can be moved to any corner of the main
picture.

There is also a new feature called Alternate Instance Recording (AIR),
which searches through the EPG to find another broadcast of a recording
should it clash with other programmes lined up for taping.

In the recorded library, you can see how much free space you have left
in hours rather than an abstract percentage. When pausing live TV there
is a two hour buffer rather than the standard 60 minutes found on other
recorders such as Sky+.

{mospagebreak}In use, the box works very well and better than other PVRs we have testd. It didn’t once freeze or crash.

Using the remote can be a pain sometimes when pressing a button and
wating for something to happen rather than the instant gratification we
alway want when channel hopping.

The playback is great and smooth with good-enough detail from an SD
perspective. However, for £20 more you can purchase a Humax 9300T,
which will give you HD upscaing and HDMI but only 320GB. Some will
compromise on storage for this handy feature on the Humax.

Overall, if storage is more important than HD picture quality, then
this could well be the reorder for you. At £200, though you may want to
weigh up your options before buying.

Rating: 8/10

Pictures on next page…{mospagebreak}

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