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Pioneer DVR-545HX review

A combi recorder that ticks all the boxes with real style

Our Verdict

A fantastic and fully specified recorder that combines the latest technology superbly


  • Video upscaling
  • Excellent audio quality
  • Great picture quality


  • Picture deteriorates after 3.5 hours

This is an imposing looking recording platform that manages to tick all the boxes for AV enthusiasts.

The 160GB hard disk is enough for 34 hours of highest-quality recording, or 455 hours at the lowest setting.

Recordings can also be made on any type of blank DVD disc, including RAM and dual-layered variants. There are both analogue and digital terrestrial tuners onboard and the input Scart accepts an RGB feed, so you can hook-up set-top boxes with the best possible picture quality.

At the front you get a DV input for digital camcorders, as well as two USB ports. With these you can connect external storage devices or card readers as well as PictBridge compatible printers, to enable you to make prints of your favourite digital snapshots without the need for a PC.

As well as a Freeview seven-day EPG there's GuidePlus, which is a bit complicated to learn but allows automatic series recording, genre searches and control of external set-top boxes.

Editing functions are excellent, with the ability to edit one programme while recording another, and you can copy CD content to the HDD, as well as backing up homemade DVDs.You also get video upscaling to 1080i levels via the HDMI output.

This excellent spec sheet is backed up with superb quality on recordings. Via the onboard digital tuner the DVR-545HX captures a wonderfully detailed image in the XP mode (which fits one hour onto a single-layered DVD). The glory of Planet Earth is captured as perfectly as the original broadcast allows.

Saturated colours (such as those on kids' TV channel CBeebies) come over in all their glory, with no bleed and bags of detail thrown in. The picture remains very good in the two-hour setting, but it deteriorates quite markedly after the 3.5-hour setting.

With the deck theoretically capable of squeezing 13 hours on to a single-layered DVD you can imagine how bad the picture becomes at the lowest setting. We did, however, notice that RGB inputs from external devices were not as impressive, with outlines looking artificially stressed.

Playback of recordings and broadcasts seem to benefit a little from upscaling, while pre-recorded DVDs get a slightly more effective boost in detail. Audio performance is excellent, with multi-channel soundtracks on DVD delivered with panache to a surround sound system.

When you throw in a DVB common interface slot for adding channels, good user-friendliness, a polished overall design and GuidePlus, which makes timer recordings a breeze, we're looking at a superior digital platform.