TVonics DTR-HD500 review

This Freeview+ HD 500GB PVR has HDMI switching

TODO alt text

tvonics dtr hd500

Despite its natty design and nifty extras, the DTR-HD500's strongpoint is picture quality.

Freeview HD channels are clear and easily befit a bigscreen TV. Recordings are identical to the broadcasts, with the same strong points of colour, contrast and detail holding-up.

Standard definition channels are a notch behind, but that's not the DTR-HD500's fault; it does its best to upscale, and it's best is pretty good – in fact it's as good as upscaler as we've seen in the Freeview HD market.

Ease of use

The box scans in channels quickly and orders them both in an EPG and a pop-up channel list – the only drawback being its lime green, yellow and black design that won't be easy for some to stomach. The EPG contains listings for nine channels across 90 minutes, with Fastext buttons used to scan downwards and forward eight days. It's an interface that covers all the bases, but is a touch too slow for our tastes.

tvonics dtr hd500

Recordings are a two-touch affair; the red button to select, and either OK to confirm, or the blue Fastext button to set a series link.

Although the DTR-HD500 is fitted with 'recommendations', during our test we didn't see any evidence of suggested programmes – although if the programme you've selected to record is also being shown in HD that week, the DTR-HD500 tells you so.

Live TV can be paused and rewound, with functionality identical to the DTR-HD500's treatment of recordings; there are two scan speeds, one of which is of indeterminate speed – but incredibly fast.

tvonics dtr hd500

Recordings, which can only be performed in high quality, are stored as a list, though accessed only via a tiny 'Lib' button that you'll do well to locate.

The remote's Fastext buttons then come into play, controlling options such as sorting (by length, newest, A-Z), editing (this is slightly misleading – it's only possible to lock or block programmes to preventing them being watched or deleted), and setting a numbered playlist. The latter feature could be useful if you want to playback several episodes of Pingu, for example, before abandoning the room to children.

tvonics dtr hd500

Switching other HDMI kit proves a success, with the remote able to switch-off most major brands of TV – so there's no worry that the DTR-HD500 will bring yet another remote into your living room.

Slideshows via USB are clear and idiot-proof, though its USB limitations are surprising for a box this price – what no DivX?

What the DTR-HD500 doesn't have, either, is a Dolby Digital option. An upgrade will be made available, TVonics assures us, in October [], which seems par for the course for most Freeview+HD boxes.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital Video Recorder
Hard Drive Capacity500 GB
Brand NameTVonics
Video FormatsMPEG-4
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
Video SystemDVB
ManufacturerTVonics Solutions, Ltd
Product ModelDTR-Z500
Product NameDTR-Z500 Digital Video Recorder
Manufacturer Part NumberDTRZ500
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Freeview+ Digital TV Recorder. Recording TV has never been so simple. No tapes, no discs, no fuss. Watch, record and pause digital TV. Works with analog or digital Televisions. Includes an integrated Freeview Digital TV receiver inside so you do not need a separate Freeview Receiver. Dual channel recording with Picture in Picture. Supporting the full feature set of Freeview+ including the ability to record a complete TV series, reschedule a recording and alternative instance recording. Compact and quiet. Ideal for use where space is limited.

Package Contents
  • DTR-Z500 Digital Video Recorder
  • Remote Control