Most Freeview HD receivers do what they say on the tin, but little else. TechniSat's impressively small and refined-looking HDFV black box packs in more than just access to the three free-to-air high definition channels.

Ins and outs seems comprehensive at first, with outputs for HDMI, Scart and composite video. There's also a set of analogue audio outputs, a USB 2.0 slot and an Ethernet LAN port. The USB slot can play files stored on a memory sick or external USB hard drive, but also lends the HDFV another dimension.

Technisat hdfv

In a move that puts this machine ahead of the curve, live TV shows – even from the likes of BBC HD and ITV 1 HD – can be recorded straight to a USB device in MPEG format. It's not possible to set series links (this isn't a Freeview +HD box), but there is a timer for setting recordings. It's certainly one up on rivals such as the Icecrypt T2200, which will need a firmware upgrade (due shortly) to perform a similar function.

That Ethernet LAN port is an essential part of the Freeview HD spec, but it serves another purpose on the HDFV – streaming from a PC on the same broadband home network.

In practice the HDFV badly needs a second USB port because using a Wi-Fi adaptor (available separately from TechniSat) renders USB playback or recording impossible.