Now that hard-drives are as cheap as chips, companies are shoving ever bigger-capacity units into their AV kit.

For proof of this gigabyte feast look no further than Topfield’s new 500GB Freeview PVR, the TF5810PVRt. The Korean firm has only been around for a decade, but this box has enough features and promise to take on the gold standard of set-tops, Sky+.   

Plus powers

Firstly, the Topfield is a Freeview+ recorder, which means that the unit has, in the eyes of the powers that be at Freeview, achieved a standard of high quality. We’ll be the judges of that, thank you very much.

This ‘standard’ should mean that rather nifty features such as pausing live TV, series recording and an eight-day EPG are included – and indeed these are all available.

Record two channels

The inclusion of two digital TV tuners also means you can record two channels at once, and watch a third, pre-recorded one off the hard disk while you do so.

In other words, it isn’t left behind by its great Sky foe. Round the back, you have the standard Scarts, plus an HDMI out, letting you upscale to 720p/1080i, while there are two CI slots for extra TV cards, such as Setanta.

Easy to use

Up and running, the menus are excellent and system navigation is intuitive, meaning we’re soon recording anything that takes our fancy.

Or are we? A check of the HDD shows some programmes are missing and it turns out that any clip less than ‘about 3 minutes’, to quote the manual, isn’t saved.

We think this is strange, but if you know this (and remember you have the pause and rewind live TV function), it’s not a disaster.

Review continues after the break... 


High-quality tuner

This aside, we’re very impressed. The tuner quality is pleasantly surprising, giving a clean and detailed picture. The upscaler is fine and will prove handy with older TVs, while recordings are faithful.

Overall, this is a highly recommended PVR with bags of storage capacity.


Stuff says... 

Topfield TF5810PVRt review

Superb picture, recording and usability – plus a whopping hard drive to boot