Grundig GUFSDTR500HD Freesat DTR review.
January 30, 2010 27 Comments
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.
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.
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.
Once 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 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.
All 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.
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.
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.