Philips DVDR7260H review

Using it is like wading through treacle

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Our Verdict

Good value-for-money recorder that just falls short of greatness

For

  • Excellent features
  • Decent picture performance

Against

  • No HDMI output
  • Sluggish operation

Philips' highest specified digital recorder boasts a 160GB hard-disk, a built-in Freeview tuner and records onto DVD RW, R, -R, -RW and DVD R Double Layer discs. It can also record 5.1-channel audio and features the brilliant TimeShift Buffer, which records the last six hours of TV in a temporary memory, allowing you to retrospectively record programmes that you missed.

Its looks are distinctive and build quality is satisfyingly sturdy, but there's a big surprise on the rear panel - no HDMI. This is very odd given Philips' usual commitment to all things cutting-edge.

However, there is prog-scan capable component video output and two Scart sockets that between them offer RGB output and input. You also get an electrical digital audio input for 5.1-channel recording, so you'll need an adapter to record from the optical-equipped Sky box.

The deck uses Guide Plus as its EPG, which lacks the instant user-friendliness of the Freeview-based EPGs found on most other recorders. But unlike other EPGs, it also covers the analogue tuner and external receivers.

You can only record from the tuners onto hard-disk, not directly onto DVD, but there is high-speed copying. Prior to copying, you can edit recordings by 'hiding' chapters, which you can also do on DVD RW, DVD-RW or unfinalised DVD R/-R discs.

Generally the deck is very sluggish to use. It's slow to respond to the remote, which really grates after prolonged use. That said, the handset is well laid out and uses handy icons.

It's worth noting that live pictures from the digital tuner are displayed in whatever recording mode is selected - so keep it in HQ. Recordings in this mode viewed through component video are very good but not flawless.

Bright Planet Earth material looks vivid and is crammed with detail, which gives the picture an overall solidity. But moving curved lines can look slightly jagged, and there's some twitchy noise on backgrounds. Busier material like football looks admirably smooth with very little noise around moving players.

With SP, there's a bigger drop in quality than we're used to. Backgrounds look blockier than in HQ, and football from Sky Sports is far less stable. Drop down to LP and pictures are watchable but hazy, and unless you're using EP and SEP to record the test card they're no good to anyone.

Seventh heaven

As for DVD playback, the deck does a great job with the tricky Seven disc. The film's few bright scenes look rich and cinematic, with strong black levels and little noise.

The DVDR7260H offers decent picture performance and an excellent array of features, which for £350 makes it great value for money - but the sluggish operation and lack of HDMI output undo some of the good work.