I've always bought Sony audio/visual products, I've found their TVs and DVD players to be good quality, and although you pay a bit more I've been inclined to think you get a kind of guarantee of quality and reliability. Well that is not the case with the SVR-S500. I've now had to re-think my brand loyalty.
I owned this product for 3 days before taking it back to the shop (not amazon) as it was pretty much unusable by design (the shop weren't that surprised to see me again, it seems others have returned theirs as well!). As you'll see from other reviews this product is allegedly a re-badged Fusion PVR, and aside from it's sleek Sony-esque chassis, nothing about it resembles the kind of quality that I would expect from a manufacturer like Sony, and at a price-point of £200+.
The fan is noisy, very noisy and the fan is on full-blast even when the unit is in stand-by, so it never stops. Unless you have a good sound-proofed cabinet in which to shut the unit away, I suggest you will find the noise very annoying when the TV is off, and barely tolerable with the TV at a good volume. But that is not the only gripe.
The machine is slow to respond to the remote control, and the Electronic Programme Guide is a joke - it only shows the title of each programme, you cannot access the description that accompanies each programme, unless you schedule that programme to record. Once the programme is in the scheduler you can then view the description. This is just lazy implementation of a very basic feature.
Also beware of the LongPlay and ExtendedPlay modes (which take up less storage space whilst compromising quality), I saw these demonstrated in the shop but all is not as it seems - when they recorded a programme in ExtendedPlay and replayed it for me I was impressed at how extended play seemed to have equally good quality to standard play. I have now found out that this is because the unit ALWAYS records in standard play first, and then batches up the programme to compress it to extended-play format once the machine is in stand-by. So, yep, even more HD noise in stand-by while the unit compresses any programmes - on top of the fan noise.
For anyone that's interested, I have since bought a Humax 9200T, it's too new to make comments on reliability etc, but on first impressions it completely outshines the Sony, with twice the Hard Disk, almost silent running, good EPG, responsive, well implemented, and cheaper than the Sony too. A sober lesson learned about blind brand loyalty.