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89 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Marks for Excellent British Made HD DTR!
After reading reviews extensively on the internet and from customers here on Amazon, I decided to buy this TVonics DTR-Z500HD. This was a very good decision. It is so easy to use it puts all the competitors' machines that I have tried to shame (especially seeing as this company is competing with the development budgets multibillion dollar Korean, Japanese & American...
Published on 20 Jun 2012 by Techtest

versus
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars the product has a problem
there has been a problem with this product it was sent back and they sent it back and it still has the same problem [the box will not work untill i pull the power plug out and then replace it] and this happens every time i use it.
Published 14 months ago by brian pickering


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89 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Marks for Excellent British Made HD DTR!, 20 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: TVonics DTR-Z500HD Freeview HD Recorder (Electronics)
After reading reviews extensively on the internet and from customers here on Amazon, I decided to buy this TVonics DTR-Z500HD. This was a very good decision. It is so easy to use it puts all the competitors' machines that I have tried to shame (especially seeing as this company is competing with the development budgets multibillion dollar Korean, Japanese & American conglomerates).

The 500GB hard drive is ample for HD recordings and even more ample for Standard Def, the TV guide, menus and overall layout of the GUI are extremely user friendly. If you can use a microwave oven you can use this, if you can use a regular digital box, with this you will be an expert.
The company provides updates on a regular basis, adding new features, the last one I downloaded added a text to speech option for the menus (it reads out menus for partially sighted people, and is good to switch on for a laugh), the one before that allowed me to play downloaded Youtube and Dailymotion videos (flash), view pictures etc, something I use quite regularly if I want to show a internet only series or funny video from YT, facebook etc on the big telly.

There is an iPlayer function, and I have tested it - it works brilliantly, but be warned, it requires a decent internet connection (good broadband), and either an ethernet cable from your DTR to your router - a practicality issue for some, or you will need to buy the TVonics branded Wifi card (25 approx), the EDImax one I bought for 8 on here is not recognized so I wouldn't expect other cheaper ones to be - if you have a usb wifi card any way you could try it before buying theirs.

A minor gripe, and it is minor - it does take a bit to come to life after you switch it on, around 30 seconds - longer than a TV. If you change channels too quickly for it, or if you have a poor signal in your area, it can take a while to get to your desired channel.

Pausing live TV is a bonus, especially if the phone rings, and rewinding it if you forgot to pause it, or to catch something again is a feature you get very used to quickly - and don't want to be without. (note that if you change channels during the adverts, you will lose the 'buffer' from when you paused it - obviously not if you are recording the programme.).

If you are recording a programme, and watching another, when it finishes, you can start watching the one which is recording from the beginning while it records the rest - which is good when there are only 2 good programmes on all night and they are on at the same time. Also I like the fact that I can record two programmes for someone else that I don't like, and instead of being forced to watch one of those, I can watch something already recorded from the Library.

Basically to sum up. It's like a better version of Sky or Virgin Media (much better than BT Vision)- in that you get the Recording, the HD (on HD channels), the Menus, the iPlayer stuff - But you don't have to pay any monthly fees and there is no five billion word contract as to why you can't end the service.

Did I mention, it's Designed and Made in the UK (Wales) - says so on the machine, in a factory that used to be owned by Sony by some of their former workers apparently (I did my research before buying).
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last a PVR Freeview HD box that works!, 30 Oct 2012
This review is from: TVonics DTR-Z500HD Freeview HD Recorder (Electronics)
You may see from my other reviews that I have had several Freeview boxes over the last year or so. But this TVonics I have fallen in love with. I have not yet had to use the dreaded F word!

It is not the most beautiful piece of gadgetry I have bought but it certainly seems the most capable. Why do I like it? Well for a start I can leave it unattended and not have to supervise its every action, its capabilities are many. It will record 2 programmes simultaneously.

The menus are an absolute delight with everything easy to access without recourse to 'the book'. Installation was simple and easy- I was very quickly 'trying it out'. I have been getting used to missed recordings and crashes with other boxes and coming to think that they were inevitable. Not so, this box hardly ever crashes and only ever did when I was making it over busy with the handset. But it can handle the odd crash- it restarts itself and takes up where it left off. Maybe it's inconvenient (if you're recording) to have that recording split into 2, but at least you have got it! I loved the EPG, timer and library screens. They were a rather strange colours at first, but with the latest software they can be customised to suit most people's taste.

The EPG clearly shows what's on and what has been on and will be on, as well as if you have scheduled a recording at the times displayed. You can 'hop' to other future days very easily and back again with the +24 and -24 keys.

The software for recording is rather fiendishly clever. On one occasion I set uo a 'series record'for a programme that I was watching and had 8 minutes to run. I was amazed to find it subsequently recorded the WHOLE programme from the 'one hour later' version of the channel, so that I ended up with a complete series. Also if channel numbers change or programmes times change, the box will reset itself to suit, recently CH52 became CH104 but everything continued as usual without any help from me. It really is intuitive. In 2 months of use it has never missed or messed up a recording, I'm not sure the software would let it!

The remote control is lovely, maybe the bottom keys are too close to the edge for my big hands, but they probably suit most people. The keys are clear and logically laid out and it looks and feels robust and looks great, also can do TV basic functions (if you programme in the TV code).

Likes: High reliability- it works fine all of the time. Records 2 channels at once or watch one record another. All in one box Freeview HD tuner plus record and play. Excellent picture quality live and record. Easy to follow menus. Beautiful remote (also controls on/off source and volume on TV). Adapts to changing programme times and channel number changes. If there are 'timer conflicts' it will suggest alternatives or select them itself from repeats. Can play recordings on any TV with SCART or HDMI. BBC iPlayer available through red button (needs fast network connection). Live 'rewind'and 'pause' handy if you miss something. Series recorder is great. Box has ability to think for itself with a minimum of 'nags' (in a limited way of course). Can play a whole range of files from storage devices via USB. It's British built!

Dislikes: Not very pretty. No front panel display apart from red and green lights, they are a bit hard to understand at times. Long switch on delay- can be more than 30 seconds (best to switch off when not using to stop unnecessary hard disc wear). Couldn't find a way to access my PC on the network connection (that would have been the icing on the cake!).

Conclusion: This really is a terrific piece of equipment. The features are stunning and it is a bit churlish to say it could do more- that's for newer and more expensive models that follow to fulfill! I recommend this box without hesitation. It may not suit everyone, but what ever does?
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good piece of kit but not without problems, 23 April 2012
By 
Mr. A. Whiteside "tonyjackie3" (uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: TVonics DTR-Z500HD Freeview HD Recorder (Electronics)
I have had this Freeview + HD recorder for a couple of weeks now and by and large been very impressed with it. It was pretty easy to set up, the recording process was easy even for a novice like myself and the HD channels are great. I couldn't really fault this unit at all but then......

I have tried programming the remote in order to use it with my Panasonic TV and have had no success at all. There are codes listed in the manual but I couldn't get any to work so that was a bit disappointing. Also, and perhaps more of a worry, the unit wouldn't work correctly when I last used it. By that I mean that it wouldn't switch channels, it wouldn't play any recorded programmes and the sound was jumping all over the place. After trying various things to get it working again, I switched the unit off at the mains and powered it up again and everything worked OK. So maybe that is just a blip but seeing as we have only had the unit for a short while it is a bit of a concern.

So yes, it is a good recorder and the problem was sorted reasonably quickly but the lack of being able to programme the remote and the fact that there has already been a problem with it means I have to knock off one star and will keep a keen eye on this to see if any more problems arise. Hopefully not.

UPDATE: A few weeks down the line and I have had more problems so have knocked off one star. Most of the time this unit works fine but one programme we had recorded on ITV2 lasted two hours and we lost picture and sound on it at least ten times during playback. Also, I watched the Euro Final on HD and the same thing happened for about 30 seconds or so. It's almost as though the unit loses power for a short while but this does mean that this unit is proving to be unreliable. I e-mailed TVonics about this twice a week ago and still haven't heard from them which is a little worrying. When it works it is great but it has to be said that these problems are very annoying and if they persist I will have to send the unit back.

FURTHER UPDATE; Another couple of months down the line and I have added a star simply because 90% of the time this unit works absolutely fine. Also, the price has dropped quite a lot and it is a terrific bargain. There are still some niggles every now and then and TVonics has gone bust unfortunately. The remote still won't work with our Panasonic TV but really, you could do a lot worse than this unit.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars the product has a problem, 16 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: TVonics DTR-Z500HD Freeview HD Recorder (Electronics)
there has been a problem with this product it was sent back and they sent it back and it still has the same problem [the box will not work untill i pull the power plug out and then replace it] and this happens every time i use it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Recording, 4 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: TVonics DTR-Z500HD Freeview HD Recorder (Electronics)
Firstly there is no instruction manual in the box so we had to work it all out for ourselves. Not difficult as it's pretty straightforward to use Managed to set up and run it and for two days it did everything we expected.
Then it suddenly came up with the message "Hard drive needs formatting and you won't be able to record or playback".
Unable to get around this by restarting, the next time we turned it on we chose the "Format hard drive" option and got the another message saying "Unable to format hard drive"
Not happy as we've lots of recorded TV that we will now miss!
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars recent updates make this a winner, 17 Nov 2011
This review is from: TVonics DTR-Z500HD Freeview HD Recorder (Electronics)
Since I have owned this product i have been impressed by the constant updates which the TVONICS team have added. Now with networking capability and access to the BBC i-player this is pretty much the complete package. Excellent HD quality, a silent operation (no fan) this ticks all the boxes as a superb product. Tvonics are committed to ongoing improvements to their products. Check out the digitalspy forum for a flavour of how good this product is.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great value product, 22 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: TVonics DTR-Z500HD Freeview HD Recorder (Electronics)
For the price, this box is unbeatable value. Having not heard of the brand before I was a little tentative when considering the purchase. Having read several reviews, I went with it and have been pleasantly surprised.
There are a couple of niggles, being the reduction in the freeview signal and the wait when you set a recording. As long as you live in a strong signal area then these can be ignored because everything else is perfect. The quality of the picture is very good, the menu is clear and easy to use and the extra features such as series link and online updates make this a brilliant system.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For us it was easy to set up and use for FreeView TV - nothing like as good as SKY+ in execution, but still a great value PVR, 20 Nov 2012
By 
Keith_Joseph (West Berkshire, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: TVonics DTR-Z500HD Freeview HD Recorder (Electronics)
I got my DTR-Z500HD unit direct from Pulse-Eight's website, the new owners of the TVonics brand and products. This PVRs 500Gb hard drive can record around 230 hours of standard def TV or 100 hours of hi-def TV. The PVR has two tuners so you can record two TV programs at the same time while watching a pre-recorded program (or watch another channel via your TVs tuner). There are three HDMI sockets, one for output to the TV and another two to pass through output from other devices, e.g. a SKY+ box and Blu-ray player. There's also one SCART, two front/rear USB2, and one internet cable socket for BBC iPlayer and updating the PVR software. You can buy an optional USB WiFi network/internet dongle for watching iPlayer, but I don't know if the network/internet side of the PVR will be further developed by Pulse-eight.

You need the latest v3.0 firmware for iPlayer, which can be downloaded from Pulse-eight - our PVR was delivered with v3.0 already installed. I did connect the PVR to our wired network/internet and the BBC iPlayer red button didn't work at first, but it turned out to be a temporary BBC problem. We then got iPlayer via our 13A mains wired D-Link DHP-P501AV/B Powerline Homeplug network connection (so we don't need the optional USB wireless dongle). BBC iPlayer has recently stopped working again, (April 2013), although Pulse-Eight say they are working on a solution. Other than iPlayer there's no other internet options available. We just use the PVR for recording terrestrial FreeView TV anyhow, as we already have internet access on the TV, Blu-ray player and our WD TV Live box. BBC iPlayer can be watched via an internet connected DTR-Z500 HD, but it can't be recorded.

Setup of the DTR-Z500 HD for FreeView TV was really easy, I only needed the manual for the diagram of the connections at the rear of the unit. The remote is large and easy to hold, although even with reading glasses some of the key buttons are very small with small text (important buttons like Menu, Library, Timer, Info, and Guide). The remote was easily programmed to control our Samsung hi-def 3D TV. Recording and playback is very straight-forward, although the two small LEDs on the front of the box don't really convey what the unit is doing beyond being on and off (the remote and display LED's on our SKY+ box are far better). The PVR records with subtitles and audio description options, and you can pause and rewind live TV as well. Live TV Channel switching is a tad slow, although the PVR is more responsive when searching and replaying recorded TV programs. We live in a very weak signal countryside area and the PVRs FreeView TV reception quality seems to be similar to our Samsung/Panasonic digital TVs. The main TV reads 100% signal and this PVR 80% for BBC1, but both devices suffer from occasional TV breakup and poorer TV reception in the winter (despite our masthead amplified hi-gain TV aerial being optimised for digital reception). After a few months I did think the DTR-Z500s TV aerial socket was faulty as the TV picture sometimes crackled and lost signal particularly when I moved the PVR, but it turned out to be a fault in the unit's freebie co-ax aerial interconnect cable and the problem was cured by replacing it with a new one.

The TVonics/Pulse box is well built, although quite chunky at 18.5cm W x 7 cm H, 22 cm depth, and it weighs 1.9Kg. It comes with a mains/12v transformer 13A plug, the remote with twin AAA batteries, the setup guide & manual, a budget HDMI lead, and one co-ax aerial cable. If bought direct from Pulse-Eight you get a one year guarantee. Overall we are are happy with the PVR, and although it's a bit more fiddly to use compared to SKY+, it works well and is good value at around 120, so 4.5*.

Unlike the best buy TVonics DTR-HV250 (score 75%), Which didn't rate this DTR-Z500HD a best buy - it scored 62% despite Which rating it higher for power users and praising the decent picture, sound quality and audio description. They marked this DTR-Z500HD down heavily for its ease of use niggles, in particular the cramped remote. Which best buys however cost considerably more than the price of this TVonics DTR-Z500HD, and we found the TVonics remote fine once we got used to the layout. Which recommend the Echostar HDS-600RS, Humax Foxsat-HDR recorder Humax, Foxsat-HDR, Humax HDR Fox T2 Humax, TVonics DTR-HV250, EchoStar HDT-610R, and Sky+. We also own SKY+ and it rate highly. We bought the SKY+ box retail and installed it ourselves rather than via SKY rental. We only get one SKY channel to watch/record but pay no additional SKY+ charges. Having the additional recording options of this TVonics DTR-Z500HD FreeView PVR gives us a lot more flexibility and storage space, plus it was cheap to buy, so we are happy with it. Eighteen months on the unit is still working perfectly with a hard drive full of TV programmes and it's proved far more reliable than our Sky+ at recording and keeping them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice Piece of Kit, 9 Oct 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: TVonics DTR-Z500HD Freeview HD Recorder (Electronics)
The unit was supplied by Richer Sounds and I received it promptly. In general this is a nice piece of kit and is well priced. I found it easy to set up and use. I found the TV code easy for the remote to find and it is good to have just one remote. The HDMI adapter is a nice touch and allows connection to other equipment. The receivers produce good quality SD & HD pictures and recordings.
However, I have some grumbles: 1) the TVonics website seems not to be operating (for over 2 weeks now) so I cannot connect to it for updates; 2) I cannot seem to get the network connection to work; 3) there are times when the machine will not come out of standby and when it does it usually takes more than a few seconds to start up; 4) there is a significant delay when switching channels via the Guide; and 5) the USB appears to be only useful for showing pictures.
All in all I think this is a good piece of kit but I would recommend clarifying what has happened to TVOnics before buying.
Update 23/11/2012. TVOnics appears to be owned by Pulse Eight so ownership has been resolved. I have updated the firmware available on Pulse Eight's website and I now have the network working and get iPlayer. Also the USB will now play music and videos along with showing photographs.
So I can fully recommend buying this.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A little Beauty", 24 Mar 2012
By 
Tony Archer (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: TVonics DTR-Z500HD Freeview HD Recorder (Electronics)
I looked around a long time to find a what I thought would be a suitable DTV recorder for my needs, and I came up trumps with this little beauty. I had considered all the "well known" brands but was unsure on nearly all of them. Then I found a mention on the internet about this product and plus the fact that it was one of only two DTV recorder's to be recommended by WHICH as being one's to go for, I felt it was worth a chance so I bought one. And I don't regret it. I love the look, the compactness of the unit, and It came with a HDMI cable which I didn't expect. The setup was easy as can be, a decent sized control unit and an easy to follow EPG, library of recorded programs and timer program. I think the picture quality through the unit is better than what I get from my TV's Freeview, plus the HD channel's which are great in their quality, in my opinion. If you are looking for a DTV recorder this one is well worth trying.
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