If you want Freeview hard disk drive recording but don't have the space for another box in your AV setup then Sanyo thinks it has the answer. This HD-ready 32-inch LCD set comes with a built-in 160GB hard disk drive (HDD), and digital and analogue tuners, all for around £1,400.
There's a whiff of Apple's iMac about the curved screen design. In a novel touch (also with echoes of the iMac's multi-colour availability) if you don't like the standard issue brush aluminium finish you can purchase fix-on alternatives, choosing from either black, white, red or blue.
This is a pleasingly designer, space age-looking set, but unfortunately due to the need to find space for a hard disk and two externalised tubular speakers it's less than slender round the back, though it can be wall mounted. A two-tier glass stand is available as an optional extra.
The lengthy remote control meanwhile, matches the TV and while rather angular to hold, is blessed with an easy-to-follow button arrangement.
Chief points of interest on the socketry front are (sadly only one) HDMI and a set of component video inputs, plus three Scarts (only one RGB capable). There's also a common interface slot for the Top Up TV card and its CAM.
There's a seven-day EPG and you can set a favourite channels list. Recordings can be scheduled from the EPG or using the eight-event manual timer, which, unfortunately, doesn't have repeat options.
The tuner's arrangement leaves something to be desired, in that it allows you to record from just one tuner at a time. This means you can record an analogue channel while watching a digital one, or vice versa, but if a recording overlaps you're in trouble. Further disappointment comes with the fact that you can't watch a recording while one is in progress - a basic feature of twin-tuner PVRs.
On the plus side it's possible to record from Scart-connected sources, such as a set-top box, in composite video quality.
There are five recording quality settings; and up to 37 hours can be stored on the highest quality setting and 180 hours on the lowest. However, anything below standard quality is so poor as to be a last resort if you're running low on disk space.
You can also pause TV for up to two hours at a time (this can take a few seconds to take effect) or use the replay option to instruct the TV to cache what you watch in its memory, enabling you to pause, rewind and fast forward at anytime up to 60x normal speed.
Pictures from the analogue tuner can be noisy. Those from the digital tuner are reasonably detailed, but exhibit a thin sheen of artefacting which couldn't always be put down to the quality of the original broadcast. Switching on the noise reduction option does help to smooth matters a little.
The tubular speakers are intended to show off Sanyo's Time Domain technology designed to create pseudo surround sound. This works rather well, though it can lend a slightly detached feeling to dialogue.
This is a competent, if unspectacular, budget offering. But the lack of flexibility means we can't recommend this TV's recording ability over investing in a seperate Freeview PVR. If you do want an all-in-one solution, Humax has a superior PVR LCD TV