Since it dropped out of the TV market last year, French company Sagem's reputation in the home cinema arena is now restricted to digital TV set-top boxes.

It's got plenty of experience in this arena and the new DVR62160 is at the top of its value-busting range. The model number, ending in 160, indicates the size of the hard disk while its twin digital tuners can record one channel while you watch another.

It also sports the 'chasing playback' feature, meaning you can watch a recording from the start even while it's still being recorded and it can even record two channels while watching a recording - one-up on most of its opponents.

Edited highlights

Connectivity is reasonable, with an optical audio output the highlight: just choose 'home cinema' in the sound settings menu. Aside from being able to route stereo sound (or even 5.1 when Freeview channels finally get around to it) to an amplifier, there's a brace of Scarts, only one of which offers RGB picture quality.

Unfortunately for such a well-specified box, the on-screen menus that include a seven-day electronic programme guide (EPG) are basic to say the least. A simple blue and black affair, in design terms alone it's a decade out of date - and it gets worse.

Scanning through the EPG is an interminably slow process. Selecting a channel on the master list brings up that day's schedule on the right hand side, but there is a sizeable delay.

Slow and unresponsive, the tiny buttons on the remote control need to be pummelled before they'll work. Even then you have to wait a few seconds before you learn if your efforts have resulted in success - like the channel changing.

The recording library is much better. Accessed through a dedicated button on the remote, recordings are presented in a list with animated thumbnails beside complete with length and programme details.

Recordings can be renamed and scanned through, DVD-style, at speeds of up to 300 times the normal playback. Basic editing - renaming, merging and even erasing portions - of recordings is another plus point, and while there is no series link, manual recordings can be set to occur daily or weekly.

Other features include a great 'deferred mode' (pause live), digital text that is super-fast, and a picture-in-picture mode.

Standard bearer

It's not possible to vary the recording quality and the result is that the overall standard of pictures is consistently good. Watched on a LCD TV, fast-moving pictures do tend to break-up and there's some noticeable jagged edges and fizzing around credits on Film 4. Everyday studio-based material from BBC One's News 24 is handled well with plenty of vibrancy to colours.

Impressive and fully featured playback of recordings from the excellent library is not enough to redeem this unresponsive digibox that will frustrate.