I am in the mood for a new Freeview recorder. Or rather, my Dad is, more imminently than me, as his box is starting to be a bit precious about playback. It gave up pausing live TV a while ago, for some unknown reason.
Now, in my family we tend to like what we like. And we regularly fail to comprehend why we are not able to purchase a gadget which does exactly what we want it to, rather than what someone has decided what we will want it to do.
Last winter I thought my Freeview recorder had died - turned out it was my TV signal which had died, thanks to degradation caused by the flooding between me and the TV mast (on the Isle of Wight). Just in case, though, I started researching a replacement recorder. I use mine a lot, as, I suspect, a lot of people do. I sometimes watch catch-up TV on mobile devices, but the joy of skipping through the ad breaks with the push of a button or two is one of my guilty pleasures in life.
I thought I had settled on an updated Humax box, as I had been happy with my old one. Then I happened to read something that filled me with horror. The device had no rf loop through. After plugging the aerial into the box and out to the TV, the box has to be on in order to watch TV. The only other way was a splitter. I had already discovered I had a slightly (!) flaky signal in bad weather, did I really want to split it? No. Apparently it was an EU power-saving thing: in order for boxes to claim they were low power the standby setting had to switch everything off. Which seemed perverse as it would have resulted in my having the box on all the time, rather than only when watching a recording! Bureaucracy and the law of unintended consequences. I sulked, ranted sbout the EU, it rained, it stopped raining and my TV channels reappeared (all those nice 5*, Drama, Yesterday type channels were restored unto me).
Fast forward six months. My box still functions, apart from the occasional senior moment (like forgetting to record anything last Thursday evening), but now we are looking to replace my Dad's. Off I delve again.
• Has WiFi (nice, as TV is not near an Ethernet point).
• Has the ability to archive recordings to an external disc. Very handy, given HDD failure is a Thing.
• Has a setting for rf loop through (yaay common sense prevails).
• Has HDMI out (of course).
And that's it, aside from all the usual recording functions.
Great. Except that the existing box is connected to Dad's HiFi. It's not a home cinema wotnot. It's a HiFi receiver. Admittedly an old one, but it's a good one. And radio recorded on Freeview played back through the HiFi sounds pretty good. Optical audio connectors? Not a chance. And in separate research we have yet to find the right new receiver for him. Or even tuner + amp, so the existing receiver stays.
Bye bye box 1.
• Has WiFi (via a dongle).
• Has a setting for rf loop through (yaay again)
• Has HDMI out (of course).
• Has a scart socket, for what that's worth
• Has RCA audio sockets. Yaay! Off to the HiFi we can go.
Sadly the manual (yes I download all the user guides - doesn't everyone?) makes it quite clear that, whilst you can connect an external drive, you most specifically cannot copy video files across to it. Boooo!
I looked at a few other boxes, not that there are many. They all seem to have something missing. I will be in the same situation as my Dad. I run a NAD 7020 receiver and am not likely to ditch it any time soon. So it's RCA connectors for me, too. Ironically my CD player has optical out, which was great for transferring CDs to my MiniDisc back in the day. Now it just sits there, little red light glaring at me…
In summary, I want:
Freeview + HD recorder with
• The ability to archive/copy to external drive
• WiFi (preferably)
• RCA audio out
• Optical audio out (just in case…)
• A setting for rf loop through
I don't want much, do I? I just want what I want…