Sagemcom Freeview+ HD: Simple, yet effective

The number of companies vying for a space next to your TV seems to grow every day. Once the sole domain of the VCR, now countless set top boxes all jostle for your attention. From 3D Blu Ray players to the new Mac Mini, there are more ways than ever to beam images onto a TV screen.

Joining the throng of devices competing for your hard earned cash is Sagemcom’s SAGEMCOM RTI90-320 T2 HD and the SAGEMCOM RTI90-500 T2 HD. Rather than attempting to be a Jack of all Trades, Sagemcom have instead decided to become a master craftsman and have focussed on the Freeview+ HD markets.

Sagemcom-Freeview+HD

Sagemcom invited us to a product launch and we got to spend some time looking at the unit with some of the Sagemcom team. Remarkably simple to operate, the SAGEMCOM RTI90-320 T2 HD is compact and looks like a chubby VHS. Packaged with everything you need to be up and running in minutes – the unit, remote, batteries and wonderfully, an HDMI lead. Tantalizingly there is a USB port at the front and an Ethernet port at the back of the unit. Pouring over the refreshingly thin manual I could find no real clue as to what they were for. When I asked the Sagemcom team they confirmed -the ports don’t have an official function yet. However there is a possibility they may be upgraded at some point in the future. For now however, the focus is on getting the Freeview+ HD functionality right.

After tuning, the unit is virtually idiot proof. The inbuilt hard drive (320 Gb on the unit i used but there is a 500 Gb unit floating around) allows simple one button recording, either from the EPG or from the live TV which you can also pause, record or rewind. You can also record a whole series, via the Series Link feature, hard drive space permitting. Twin DVB-T2 tuners are fitted so you can record two programs at once and of course you can access Freeview HD channels, including BBC and ITV HD, so it’s an ideal device to watch the World Cup on. If you watch a lot of Freeview and crave digital simplicity, this unit could well be for you.

Prices for the Freeview+ HD £249.99 for the 320gb and £299.99 for the 500gb which is due out at the end of the month.

Panasonic high definition DVD recorder for Freeview+HD: ideal for the World Cup

Them at Panasonic have pre-empted Freeview HD being rolled out across the country by releasing an absolutely marvellous bit of kit in the DMR-XW380. Seemingly a cross between Sky Plus and a DVD player, this brand new gizmo will enable you to record programs from Freeview HD channels onto its hard drive and then, if you wish, transfer that onto a DVD with the quality of picture not being compromised. Reviews of the clarity of the picture once it’s transferred have been unanimously positive, with the grandly named High Definition Chroma Processer seemingly ensuring lines stay crisp and edges sharp.

Panasonic-Freeview-HD-recorders

Often the problem with these kind of digital TV recording facilities is that if you are recording something you cannot watch another channel (which, to these eyes, seems to slightly negate the point of the whole thing, but lets not get bogged down in that eh?). Thankfully the DMR-XW380 has swerved this whole problem marvellously by not just allowing you to watch another digital channel, but allowing you to record another digital channel. Oh, praise be to God in the Highest! What a stunning development this is. For football fans already salivating at the prospect of a month of ignoring their other half and garnering another excuse to drink beer during the World Cup, this means the whole experience can be lengthened. Two games on at the same time? Not a problem mon frère! Watch one (record if its England), watch the other straight after. If you think about it logically, taking into account half-time and pre/post match reflection this would enable you to avoid any kind of meaningful, non-football related conversation for at least four and a half hours. That’s more or less an evening for most people, which enables them to skip all that mucky, soulless hows-your-day smalltalk, and get right down to the good stuff before the bliss of boozy slumber.

Of course, the plus points don’t just finish here. Any Sky Plus fan worth their salt will rhapsodise at length about the innocent joy of being able to pause live TV. If they don’t they’re probably lying about having it in some cock-eyed attempt to be ‘cool’ and in fact run away screaming to Mummys breast any time ‘people start coming out of that little black box. ’ Well, the DMR-XW380 has this capability in the form of its cryptically named Rewind Live TV function, which will enable you to rewind over two hours back to the scene of your choosing (no jumpy Body Of Evidence shots for the next generation of UK teenagers).

It’s all delivered in Dolby Digital/Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 channel surround sound and users can, if they wish, use subtitles on all recordings. There’s also a bevy of extra features- you can upload images and movies from your digital camera, you can use it to watch videos on sites like Youtube. One particularly snazzy snippet is its DLNA server functionality which enables you to connect it to compatible devices in other rooms, so even the most unfriendly of house-sharers can bear the fruits of their work at Panasonic HQ.

It would seem the only sticking point is the price- £550. It seems an awful lot especially when you know it’ll be half that in a couple years. Of course that’s not really the point-the sort of person that really desires these functions now won’t give two bananas about the price. And for them, it seems, the DMR-XW380 will be nothing but a Godsend.

The DMR-BW880EBK and BW780EBK Freeview+HD Blu-ray Disc™ Recorders are also available and feature in the lovely picture above.