Grundig GUFSDTR500HD Freesat DTR review.

Having owned the Humax Foxsat HDR since its arrival but getting fed up of not having enough space for all my HD recordings on its 320GB hard drive, I decided to purchase the Grundig GUFSDTR500HD.  I chose this model over the Goodman’s simply because of its looks. During the last few days I have been putting this unit through its paces and also making some comparisons between it and its Humax counterpart and have decided to write a review hopefully to assist any other users who might be considering buying this model.


Setting it all up.

In the box you get the unit, the remote control, the power supply plus its connection lead, two batteries for the remote, a quick start guide and a full guide and also a gold plated HDMI lead.  The unit is smaller than the Humax in width. Its very attractive to look at with a curved front facia in the popular ‘piano black’ and the curved facia is accentuated by a white edge running along the bottom.  The front facia contains the Standby button, the Play, Pause and Stop buttons, a navigation set of  buttons and also the record button. When the unit is in use the standby, play, pause and record buttons light up whenever that particular feature is being used.

Grundig GUFSDTR500HD front facsia

The rear of the unit contains two LNB inputs, a RS232 factory upgrade connection, a HDMI connection, two scart connections one for a TV and a VCR, both a SPDIF and an Optical connection, an Ethernet connection for enabling the BBC iPlayer for example and a USB port whose current use is just for a Factory upgrade.

Rear view of the Grundig The remote is very attractive with ‘tactile’ buttons and it seems well made. However, the volume and channel surfing buttons have been placed right at the bottom of the remote and so are a little awkward to use. The remainder of the buttons are well placed though with the Menu, Guide and the Record button being made larger than the other buttons.

Grundig Remote controlOnce fully connected you just have to input your postcode and choose the screen display for your particular TV, then the unit searches and finds all of the channels for you and does this quite speedily. Once they have all been found, you can begin to watch Freesat straight away or continue to tweak the settings. The user manual is very well set out and easy to follow.

The Guide ScreenThe user interface is  well set out and easy to navigate. When accessing the Guide, you are presented with the Genre front page but this can easily be disabled in the Settings Menu. The Guide can be quickly navigated by two hourly steps if required or by 24 hours if you wish to skip to a certain day. If any broadcasts are available in HD this is displayed as a blue HD icon in the EPG. A useful synopsis is shown at the top of the EPG for each program as you access it in the Guide. You can also set up reminders if you don’t want to forget to watch a particular program but don’t wish to record it.  Above the top of the Guide are tabs which contain all the different Genres thereby rendering the front end Genre list actually redundant and unnecessary.  You can also access the Library with one click from here as well. If you wish to record a program, unlike the Humax you use the Record button as the OK button is used for setting a Watch/Reminder.

Showing Transparency settingsAll adjustments and settings that you might want to change  are available from the Menu. Here you can set up your recordings, your Channel List including deleting channels and/or placing  them in a favourites list, your settings choices for your HDMI connection, etc. You can also access the System information at the bottom which shows the state of your LNB connections, the model number and software version etc. All settings are accessible via tabs across the top which are navigated by using the << and >> buttons, a clever touch. One feature that is immediately useful once you have made some recordings is the Preview feature in the Library list.  Here you can scroll down each recording made and preview it inside the small window at the top before deciding to watch the whole recording.

The Library screen All recordings, whether they have been viewed, recorded or scheduled are available from the Library. They are sorted by the criteria of viewed at the top, then recorded followed by scheduled. It is in this screen that you set up any series recordings, protect any recordings, delete them etc. The Guide is one click away from this screen and the Library is one click away from inside the EPG. It all makes for a very intuitive user interface which is very easy to learn for any user, even those who have never owned a PVR previously.

Conclusions and Comparisons.

I really like this unit. I have been putting it through its paces all week, and I am very pleased with everything I have found. Firstly the picture quality is fantastic. It puts the Humax Foxsat HDR to shame in my opinion. BBC HD is absolutely  pin sharp and pristine and the standard definition picture is definitely cleaner and sharper in detail and far better than the Humax who’s SD picture tend to err on the soft side. It’s not easy to demonstrate this with my cheap Samsung camera in any shot taken, but do take a look at my photos of  some of the channels. Of course it doesn’t have the attractive HD menus of the Humax, but I don’t sit around watching the user interface  so that’s not important to me, the picture quality of the channels I am watching and recordings played back is. The user interface does its job in a simple yet effective way without the need of folders etc, and in my opinion is all the better for it.  The unit just takes a few seconds to boot up from standby as well which is a plus when compared to the Humax which seems to take an absolute age and the EPG is easy and quick to navigate as are the other Menu’s.

Grundig BBC Picture Quality

I haven’t yet set up any none Freesat channels which have to be input manually but for me this is a plus as whenever I loaded them into the Humax, it then used to take me an age deleting most of them.  I will try this out later and make a recording from one of them.  The unit is not entirely silent in operation, it is similar to the PS3 when being used, but it is not intrusive even when the volume is turned down low.  The unit will  be enabled for the BBC iPlayer in the not too distant future..

However, there is one drawback at the moment and that concerns the ITV HD service. Its pretty obvious that the  initial intention was to be able to choose the HD recording if one was available from the Guide but for some reason that is not possible to do at present.   Instead if the user wishes to record something from ITV in HD format they have to set the recording up  manually. You have to set a Reminder and then physically be present when the program begins,  press the red button when prompted to load up the HD version followed by  the record button to begin the recording. An Addendum leaflet is included with the enclosed  instruction book explaining how to set up a recording of an ITV HD broadcast and explains the reason as follows:

Quote. ‘At the time of product launch, the relevant scheduling data from ITV to allow scheduled recordings of ITV HD on this Freesat + recorder is not yet live but will be soon. this does not affect the recording of BBC HD.’ Unquote. So you have to use Instant record and the leaflet then continues to take you through the relevant steps to do this.  So far, the unit has worked flawlessly and recorded every program that I  have scheduled. 

Okay, so it doesn’t have the ‘bells and whistles’ of the Humax Foxsat HDR, but what it does have is a simple to use interface, a pristine picture quality via its HDMI upscaler and I am very pleased with my purchase.  I only wish it had been available at the same time as the Humax.  The Humax has been out well over a year now and it already has the BBC iPlayer, it can record two and let you watch another which this unit can’t do, its silent in operation, and since the recent software update you can use an external hard drive to save your recordings to, so if those features are important to you then the Humax is the one to choose. Me?  I’m sticking with this little beauty!  More pictures available from HERE.

TG    Equipment used. Samsung LE40B550 Full HD LCD, Proline HDMI lead, Sony HF-SS1000 Home Theatre System, Grundig GUFSDTR500HD Freesat PVR. Harmony One Universal Remote control.

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About technogran
A granny and a geek? You bet! Still trying desperately to keep up with it all.

27 Responses to Grundig GUFSDTR500HD Freesat DTR review.

  1. FreakyBeanz says:

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand why you had to buy a new Freesat Recorder, because the disk on the Humax was full. The Humax has 2 x USB ports, and the facility to plug in external drives, which can be used for archiving purposes – just a matter of plugging the drive in, and copying the existing content across. Surely with external 500GB drives now around £40, this would have been a much cheaper option.

    • technogran says:

      Yes your probably right. But don’t you have to format any external drive in Linux? And aren’t Humax planning on bringing out a completely new model later this year? Will the current model still get updates? I had also got rather fed up of the time it takes for the Humax to boot up and some of its other quirks. This unit has a much better picture quality as well using exactly the same connections as I used with the Humax. Only thing I miss about the Humax is the search feature.
      TG

  2. 7Seatercars says:

    Grundig memory is brilliant but I can even save films onto my memory stick with the Humax and the Grundig doesn’t have BBC I Player.. Good review though !!

    • technogran says:

      It will have the BBC iPlayer soon, and frankly I didn’t use it much on the Humax. There isn’t a lot of programs that I miss seeing as I record everything. Thanks everyone for the comments.

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  4. Riktum says:

    Thanks TG – this really helps. I sold on the Humax I did have because of it’s user interface issues (and stuck with sky for the time being). This is making me think I can ditch Sky for good this time round.

    I have PC and Wii for iPlayer (rarely use either at the moment) and 2 channels at a time is plenty.

    Now I just need to convince Mrs Riktum that she can wait for “Bones” and “House” to be on freesat channels or Box sets.

    One question – Sky+ records from the begining of a program when you hit record in the middle of it (but were watching from the start), the Humax doesn’t. What does the Grudig do in that case ?

    • technogran says:

      Funnily enough I did plan to test that feature and then I forgot. I’ll test it tomorrow and see if it records the whole buffer. I’ll post back here if it does or doesn’t. Ok?

    • technogran says:

      The Grundig is the same as the Humax I am afraid with regard to recording in the middle of a program, even if you have been watching it from the beginning. (buffer recording.) I did hope that it would behave as the Sky + box (and some other PVR’s) and record the buffer in the background but you would have to rewind the buffer and then press the record button in order to get the whole program.

  5. RH777 says:

    I have found this review very informative.

    Please can I enquire about the amount of noise that the fan makes? I am seriously considering buying either this unit, or the Goodman’s equivalent. However, I have seen some reviews online where users have been highly critical about the noise produced by the unit’s fan. Since you didn’t mention the fan in this excellent review I would be very interested to hear your thoughts. It’s about the only thing that is stopping me taking the plunge!

    • technogran says:

      Riktum, I am not going to describe it as silent but neither is in intrusive! I think some of them must have faulty units because mine is about the same as my PC, and only when its recording or being used. I can hardly hear it even with the sound on my sound system turned down. It’s about the same as a PS3 if you have one of those.
      TG

      • RH777 says:

        Thanks for the quick reply!!

        I think I will go for a Goodman’s model since these seem to be available slightly cheaper than the Grundig. My understanding is that the two models are identical in every way other than the different front panel. Is anybody able to confirm this?

      • technogran says:

        The software inside is identical as far as I know (apart from slight cosmetic differences in the Menu graphics. It’s just the front end and shape that is different, the Grundig is curved at the front.

  6. EintrachtBlue says:

    Thanks for the review.

    Just to be clear… are you saying you are unable to record 2 programmes and watch another previously recorded programme at the same time?

    • technogran says:

      No. You can record two different programs at the same time AND watch a recording. However, the Humax let’s you record two programs at the same time and WATCH another program as long as it is on the same transponder, The Grundig won’t allow you to do this.

      • EintrachtBlue says:

        Thanks a lot.

        That’s good enough for me! I like the look of the EPG and Library compared to the HUMAX – I think it’ll be the one!

  7. Really nice review – it’s great to see other opinions.

    I do agree with you on most points too, and this is the better looking box out of the Grundig and Goodmans. But on the model I tested the cooling fan was very noisy – but same with the Goodmans too. So it’s really good to read that your model was actually quieter – that could well mean the problem has been ‘quietly’ fixed (excuse the pun). If so, best to avoid older stock for anyone buying this box.

  8. MarkA says:

    Great review – nicely balanced and objective.

    I have a Grundig GUFSDTR500HD too, which complements two Digifusion FVRT PVRs that I’ve had for years and loved. So I’m not new to PVRs. MrsA and I have found the Grundig very easy to get to know and use. I find the picture quality quite good – though slightly disadvantaged as I don’t have a fancy HD TV so the unit is connected via SCART to my Sony CRT and this connection only provides a composite link.

    We haven’t found found fan noise to be an issue. Though over many years, some people have complained on forums about fan noise on the Digifusion PVRs too. This was often fixed by replacing the fan or just slackening/retightening the mounting screws. So maybe there’s an issue with some units, or maybe it’s down to the sensitivities of individuals hearing. It would be very difficult to tell in a shop with all the other background noise, you’re only really going to know when you have the unit in situ.

    If you don’t have a real need for the extra features on the Foxsat, then I’d highly recommend the Grundig GUFSDTR500HD.

    • technogran says:

      Thank you Mark for that comment. Shame you can’t take advantage of the HD picture quality it provides via the HDMI connection. It is far superior to the Humax.

  9. David Co says:

    I have the Grundig. Superb Picture and sound. Very noisy fan.Not so user friendly.
    Problems recording. Often fails giving “No Signal Message” but records when pressing Record button for the same recording. I have only one lead at present and therefore have to set the correct channel to record. Yesterday I set to record 2 films on the ITV HD channel one after the other but it only recorded one. It also would not record a set programm whilst I was watching a program on the library. Maybe because I only have one feed?

  10. technogran1 says:

    Some users have found that disabling the Auto Updates on the Grundig helps so you could try this. If this doesn’t help then I would contact Grundig about your problems

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