Top critical review
165 people found this helpful
Great value, but...
on 14 September 2008
I started looking at combined DVD-VCR machines to reduce the clutter around my TV and also enable me to transfer my Mini-DV video tapes onto DVD. I was using a Sony DVD player, an old VCR and also a Sagem PVR sitting on top of my 12 yr old Panasonic CRT.
I wanted a machine that could play and record onto DVDs and VHS but that also had a freeview tuner. I was also after a machine with a hard drive to make editing DVDs easier and to enable me to replace my PVR at the same time.
At less than £200, I think this machine is superb value but it has its problems. Here are my annoyances in order of frustration. Only time will tell if they outweigh the value:
1. You can't access the programme guide or list of timer recordings if you are recording. This is really frustrating as this includes times when you are using it to perform time-slip (more about that later). So, you pause live-tv, get a drnk, come back and resume play but now you can't see the EPG or set up a program to record because the machine is now in Recording mode i.e. it is chasing playback.
2. Pause-live TV is very un-intuitive - nowhere near as good as my PVR, mainly because you have to press the time-slip button twice - once to start recording the tv programme and once to then pause it. My PVR continuously records the previous 30 mins so you could always pause and rewind up to 30min but this isn't possible with the Toshiba, unless you have pressed timeslip to start recording. Very hard to explain to my wife, who is already missing the PVR.
3. With time-slip, it treats the programme you have paused as a normal recording. So, your hard drive and your recorded programme list will fill up with programmes you have paused (!)
4. Menus are very unintuitive and frustrating, requiring you to confirm twice if you want to delete all those recordings where you paused live TV - gets very annoying!
5. Remote control seems very weak. Two meters away at an angle and it won't respond
6. EPG is frustrating in Week view, with no feature to step forwards a day at a time; you need to step through every programme for one day to move to the next day. Obtining information about programs also requires two clicks - with my PVR the programme information was automatically displayed when you highlighted the program
7. Accessing your list of recordings is poorly laid out, choosing to display the first frame of each programme on the screen which you then scroll through, with the title of the progrmme displayed at the top when the frame is highlighted. If you want to quickly review all your recording to choose what to watch, how many programs can you recognise from the first frame! Would have been more llogical to have a text list of the recordings and a single window to display the recording when you higlighted it in the list.
So, overall it is great value and reduces the machines I need under the TV but despite its hard drive it is very poor replacement if are buying it to give you the PVR/Sky+ functionality. I think Toshiba could have done so much more with this machine by putting a bit more thought and effort into usability - I wonder if it can download new software to fix itself if Toshiba ever employ a usability expert to redesign it...