Philips DTR5520 review

Does the Freeview HD basics well, but this Pace-y box lacks features

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Installation is a simple process, though not as quick as we'd hoped – it took around five minutes to find all regular Freeview and hi-def channels, and put them in the correct order.

One thing we did notice is that the BBC HD channel – and a number of others – weren't all that stable, suggesting that the DTR5520's DVB-T2 tuner lacks sensitivity.

Installation

Meanwhile, the DTR5520's electronic programme guide (EPG) is accomplished. It's designed in shades of blues, greys and blacks and features some subtle 3D effects that lift the text from the screen – that's especially useful since the interface, which could be a touch sharper, uses an ugly font.

Press the information button and the DTR5520 brings up the name of the channel you're watching alongside details of what's currently showing, and what's coming up next – and how long you have to wait. There's also a visual that shows how far along the current programme has gone.

Interface

Hover over the channel name and it's possible to scan to another channel and see what's on – and up next – without having to call-up the EPG. It mirrors how set-top boxes from the likes of Sky and Virgin work, so it's not exactly unique, but we've not seen many interfaces that work so logically, or as quickly.

BBC hd

The ability to see what's happening on other channels proves crucial, because the dedicated eight-day EPG is demanding; call it up using the 'guide' button on the remote and it blanks out and mutes the channel you're watching.

If that's unnecessary, at least the EPG is lively. Graced by a Freeview logo, the EPG houses eight channels with three hours of programming divided up into 30 minute segments. A short programme synopsis is displayed beneath.

EPG

There's rarely room to display programme titles in this rather rigid grid design, but if you move the cursor into any particular time slot the name of the programme will shift back and forth to reveal itself, though it does do this rather too slowly for our tastes.

channel list

If you want to switch channels without recourse to the EPG, there's a simple, transparent channel list that appears is you press the 'OK' button in the centre of the remote. Similarly, hit the 'info' button twice and a full-screen programme synopsis floats over while a channel plays underneath.

channel list

The remote control, as usual with Philips gear, is too small. If you've got sausage fingers you will struggle with it – aside from an almost redundant numerical pad, and the volume and channel up/down keys, all the other buttons are way too small.

remote

The fastext controls that are crucial for operating the EPG properly are too close together, while even the oft-used 'guide' (to summon the EPG), 'menu' and 'exit' (to return to live TV after searching the EPG in silence) commands are tiny.

And that's about it for the DTR5520; thankfully this is not a complicated box, though we would have liked a few more options, such as changing the EPG to a transparent design (with sound), or some indication of signal strength on individual channels.

Our only real complaint is the while the EPG is just about quick enough, changing channels does involve a short delay of over a second while the box tunes-in.