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TVonics DTR-Z500HD review

This Freeview+ HD recorder with HDMI switching is as slick as they come

TVonics DTR-Z500HD
The TVonics DTR-Z500HD produces great HD images

Our Verdict

Some novel features and great picture quality make this a good choice Freeview HD recorder.


  • Hi-def pictures
  • Novel HDMI switching
  • Ease of use


  • Small buttons on remote
  • Digital music & video not supported
  • No DLNA streaming

Overview and features

Its two Freeview HD tuners and 500GB hard disk suggest that TVonics' latest stab at digital greatness is a high-end option indeed.

And around the back is immediate proof that this diminutive, though heavyweight, box is a serious attempt at making a one-of-a-kind Freeview HD recorder.

The usual ins and outs, such as a Scart, RF in and out, two USB slots and an HDMI output are present, but so too are two HDMI inputs. It means the DTR-Z500HD can act as a HDMI switcher itself if other HDMI gear – such as a games console and a Blu-ray player – are attached to it.

Although it won't cut out the need for additional remote controls, it does mean just one cable needs to be attached to your TV. In that regard, the DTR-Z500HD seems perfect both for those with a TV that has only one HDMI input, and anyone wanting to wall-mount a TV in the tidiest possible way.

Attached kit is selected using the 'HDMI1' and 'HDMI2' buttons on the remote; it's a completely unique feature, and one we like. Its ability to switch external HDMI courses also explains the DTR-Z500HD's 1080p output, which isn't otherwise necessary; Freeview HD channels are currently broadcast in 1080i.

There is a counterpoint. Despite the fact that the DTR-Z500HD can be fitted with a network cable, there's no media streaming features or DLNA functionality. That's a real shame, as is the limited talent of the front and rear panels' USB slots; they merely play photos, not digital music or video files.

TVonics dtr-z500hd

Our sample, which was loaded with the latest software (V1.2.A1550.D280.F10), included all the latest Freeview+ HD features you might expect, include accurate recording, series links, one-touch recordings and even recommended programmes based on the recordings you make (this depends on information from broadcasters; during our test BBC programmes such as Casualty, QI and Doctor Who, and C4's One Born Every Minute, had this data).

Live TV can be paused and rewound; you can designate the size of the buffer as one, two or four hours, though this obviously ropes-off a portion of the hard disk.