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I've had a few of the RDR HXD range from Sony. I'm not generally a Sony fan but this seems to be the machine others are compared against for the following reasons;
Build Quality - Its no heavyweight but equally saying will not move when a button is pressed on the front - it feels reassuring. Judging from the videos I have watched the inside is well engineers with no short cuts taken with quality components and chips used on the boards. It could be why most are still working 8+ years on.
Remote control - Some remote controls just don't feel right, have a ratting battery compartment cover etc. The remote control feels well balanced in the hand with buttons within easy reach for one handed operation. (Takes 2 x AA)
User interface - Can somewhat techie, if you want to set the bit-rate on your XYZ you can. Equally saying if you just want to plug it in, answer the questions on the Easy Setup Wizard it will get the basics up and running with no fuss. Generally the User Interface is blue background with white text
Software features - i'm not a guru when it comes to equipment however I found it easy to record programs from the Freeview plus guide. it was quite intuitive, press Guide brings up the TV guide, select the program you want to record and press enter, confirm the options - ooh I see "Series
Record" - then press OK. I've just setup a series recording of CSI! Dubbing is a word i had only seen on a VCR but never used until I started playing with the Sony boxes and realised it meant copying a recording to DVD. That was easy too - pop a writable DVD into the drive, pull up the system menu and chose dubbing. It even gives you the chance to do basic editing like cut out the advert breaks, save it and then if you want Dub it to a DVD then finalise it.
Timer recordings - May seem obvious but timer management i feel is quite important. Checking when the next recording is on, skipping a one off recording or cancelling a Series or single timer. One nice feature which I haven't seen on many others is the ability to set a timer to record off one of the SCART ports, for example I wanted to record a football program that was only available on satellite every Saturday afternoon between 1 and 4 pm - I was able to set up a manual repeating timer and select the input as Line 1. Whilst covering timers you can obviously select what the Sony records onto (DVD or the hard disk) also there are what seems endless qualities of recording. Obviously there is a trade off between the space used and the quality. I have always used the default which is impressive for the every day Joe. Even on standard the picture quality even today is top notch with full 1080p up scaling. You can also use the recorder as a Freeview box and watch Freeview though it however it will not give any warnings when it is time to switch over to start recording something, although surprising it is a lot better than a Samsung I tried that wouldn't try to record unless it was in standby - like an old VHS.
Dubbing (contd) - i almost forgot to mention dubbing. Not only can you dub (copy) recordings from the internal hard disk to DVD, you can also Import music CDs, DVDs, connected devices VCRs camcorders onto the hard disk for later use. This is subject to copy protection etc.
Connectivity - I'm no HiFi expert but there seems to be everything but the kitchen sink, 2 SCARTS (1 in/out & 1 out), Composite and Component out, S-Video, HDMI, on the front behind a flap there is a DV i-link port and composite, i'm guessing for older and newer camcorders. It seems well prepared for most requirements.
Support - A few years ago there was an outcry as one by one Sony recorders all around the UK (this being one of them) just stopped picking up Freeview. Looking back Sony could have wrung their hands siting its now an obsolete model but like Apple they took responsibility and fixed the problem with a firmware update, Over The Air and available on CD. Granted it took a few days to fix the problem but it showed Sony cared.
Now for the frustrating features.
Single Standard Def Freeview tuner - Says it all however Freeview HD was not generally available at the launch of this box. A single tuner means the box can only do one task at a time. If its recording you can;t do much else, no channel swapping, no pause live recording etc. However you can watch something from the recording library, watch a DVD or chase play the current recording. I forgot to mention you can listen to CDs (You have imported).
No online content - There is no BBC iPlayer or Net flix etc, again wasn't widely available at the time.
I'm going to leave the biggest gripe I have to the last point. The box has a habit of going into Timer mode (going into standby) after its finished recording. For years I have asked how to prevent this as I found it got annoying when recording back to back episodes of a program, the machine would wake up, record the program, go into standby, wake up, record the next one etc etc. Although I did live with this annoyance I found playing a re recorded program prevented it from going into standby mode. The only rational answer I was told was it did this because it was a "DVD recorder" - go figure - That made no sense to me either, still seems unnecessary to me, maybe a throw back to the days of VCRs?