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Sagem PVR6240T Review

For quite a while I’d been waiting for a solid, affordable PVR/DVR with Freeview built in and, ideally, a DVD burner. TiVo is dead over here (farcically, you can sign up for the service but they don’t have any boxes to sell), and Sky+ isn’t an option for me.

Sagem PVR6240TA few weeks ago I noticed the Sagem PVR6240T. It’s fairly cheap (130 quid from Argos), has a dual tuner (record one channel while watching another), stores 20 hours and uses the 7-day programme guide data now broadcast by most channels. I can live without the DVD bit (although fewer boxes under the telly is always good), so another gadget entered the flat.

Sagem PVR6240T programme guideIt looks cheap and uninspiring, but works pretty well. The menus and programme guide are sluggish and nowhere near as usable as they could be, but are no worse than other Freeview boxes I’ve used. In fact, the DVR features barely add to the complexity of the menus and remote control.

Picture quality is fine, with no difference between live and recorded footage. Recording is straightforward (browse to something in the guide and hit the Record button), but you don’t get any TiVo-like advanced searching and automation, and can’t compare your favourite channels at a glance in the guide.

It has crashed once, and the guide can go slightly mad if it has incomplete data. Apparently it automatically picks up software upgrades, but I’m always skeptical about manufacturers’ commitment to ongoing fixes.

Anyway, the PVR6240T generally does the job and is well worth considering if you’re after a Freeview hard disk recorder (see PVR UK for other options), but mine isn’t getting used much. Y’see, it turns out that we can’t quite get good enough reception to pick up more than a few channels. The aerial is at the far end of a tiny roof space, so we’re mostly reverting to analogue and might try a signal booster until I can face crawling around up there amongst the dead mice (or pay someone else to). Bah.

Update

The software’s clearly very buggy, I’ve had the following problems:

  • The menus sometimes start acting as though you’re holding down up/down at random until the box is rebooted.
  • The guide stops working, requiring a reboot.
  • Moving through a recording causes a crash.
  • A scheduled recording simply doesn’t happen (very annoying).

So unless Sagem gets its act together and releases an update I can’t recommend buying it.

A bit of a rant about UK digital terrestrial TV…

In a few years they’re going to start switching off analogue transmissions, to be replaced with something that has worse picture quality. The compression artifacts are noticeable and high definition is nowhere in sight.

It’s also a system that makes inconsistent use of far too many buttons, as I’ve touched on before, and offers clunky interactivity, resulting in tens of millions of people having to cope with unnecessary limitations and appalling usability. I’m a gadget geek and find it frustrating, imagine how daunted technophobes are feeling.


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