There are two main categories of technology we encounter here at Stuff. The first is the one that you’ll find draped over our cover models, the one we’ll skip lunch just to stroke and covet.

But man cannot live on shiny aluminium alone, and there’s a second, equally important category into which this Thomson falls.

Substance over styleThese gadgets won’t be receiving any longing glances but they will serve you loyally on a daily basis making your life that little bit simpler and better along the way.

Ignore the low budget, mid-90s VCR look and the lack of headline-grabbing features and what you have in the DTH8653E is everything you need to feed your telly fiend needs.

There’s no HDMI input, but we say so what? What you do get is a monster 160GB hard disk drive, electronic programme guide and recording to a host of DVD formats.

Once you’ve done your best to place the homely looking recorder in a discrete position under your TV you’ll be ready to go in no time thanks to the simple set up, albeit via the fiddly remote.

Pretty as a picture

The digital tuner is a strength of the DTH8653E, making mincemeat of Sky Sports infamously testing news ticker and delivering pretty impressive lifelike pictures.

It’s not perfect by any means, struggling sometimes with darker scenes and complex edges, but it’s never in danger of ruining your enjoyment.

There are five HDD settings on offer: from the fistfight-in-a-snowstorm that is the ‘basic’ setting, all the way up to the perfectly faithful ‘best’ setting.

Despite offering 260 hours of recording space, the basic isn’t really a viable option, but 100 hours from the ‘high’ setting seems about right to us.

The DTH8653E won’t let you down when it comes to DVD recording, producing particularly good results via the component video.

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Stuff says... 

Thomson DTH8653E review

If you’re looking for a good value all-round recorder and can live without slick looks or HD loveliness then the Thomson is a very worthy option