We’ve always been impressed by Sagem’s set-top boxes, so we were only to happy to welcome its first Freesat HD model into our testing lounge. The DTR 94250S has a 250GB hard-disk with twin tuners, but if that’s not enough the 500GB DTR94500S is available for £300.
It’s certainly no oil painting, but the Sagem is usefully sleek at 41mm tall. It also has all the connectivity you need, including twin Scarts, component video sockets (not fitted to some rivals) and, crucially, an HDMI out.
A coaxial digital out flanks analogue RCA outs, and there’s an Ethernet socket for the future addition of BBC iPlayer.
Other useful features? We like the adjustable timer margin: you can choose to automatically add five, 10 or 15 minutes to the start and ending of any recording just to be sure you capture the whole show, which is a neat touch – especially if the snooker over-runs and makes Larry Sanders start late.
Performance is good, too. Picture quality with BBC HD is obviously the main event: colours are vibrant, dark areas of screen are dense and consistent and, while there's a shimmer of noise on some fast motion, it’s not problematic.
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Standard-definition images appear consistently good too, while comparisons with the same shows on our reference TV’s Freeview tuner showed Freesat had less digital block noise.
Criticisms are few. The menu and guide buttons on the remote are way too small. More notably, while the Sagem includes built-in scaling to 720p or 1080i, there’s no ‘Auto’ bypass mode – if you set it to 1080i to view native 1080i HD, you're forced to use the Sagem's upscaling for standard-definition, too.
But it’s certainly no deal breaker. If you need a future-proofed PVR it’s a great choice, though we’d be tempted to wait to see how the imminent Freeview HD boxes like 3View compare.