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Philips DTR5520 review

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

Philips DTR5520
It's a shame there is no CI slot for adding a Top-Up TV subscription


  • HD & SD pictures
  • Dolby Digital option


  • No Common Interface slots
  • High price

As with a lot of brands trying to address the UK-specific market of Freeview – and in this case, Freeview HD – Philips has enlisted the help of renowned set-top box maker Pace to deliver its entry-level receiver, the DTR5520.

We say entry-level because a Freeview HD recorder, the HDT8520, is also a result of this collaboration – that box includes a 500GB hard drive capable of recording 125 hours of HD programmes.

The DTR5520 is far simpler, but looks the part; dressed in a reflective though fingerprint-hungry gloss black fascia, the diminutive box sports a Freeview HD logo beside a classy blue LED display and some basic controls for channel-hopping, toggling between resolutions (hardly necessary as a front panel control) and VOut, which swaps the output between Scart and HDMI.

That latter function does introduce some confusion because if the Scart is used, nothing can be watched in hi-def – surely the whole point of the DTR5520.

Its rear panel reveals the usual ins and outs alongside something unexpected; analogue audio outputs. That may not seem too exciting, but it does mean that the DTR5520 can take analogue stereo sound to an amplifier.


Also unusual is the fact that the DTR5520 can convert audio on Freeview channels to Dolby Digital if you connect it to an amplifier using the coaxial digital audio output.


Elsewhere you'll find Ethernet LAN (making the DTR5520 ready for on-demand services on Freeview when they start), a USB port (for software updates only, unfortunately), RF in and out (for loopthrough to a VCR) and a Scart. Sadly there's no Common Interface slot, so Top-Up TV is off the menu.