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I bought the Sony RDR-HXD995 about two years ago now from my local Comet store. I decided to buy a DVD recorder as I am unable to receive Sky+ in the apartment block that I live in. The Sony RDR-HXD995 stood out from the others available because of the 250GB internal hard drive (this allows 36 hours of high quality recording or around 700 hours of standard quality) and the opportunity to record onto DVD's, plus the Sony branding.
Setting up the Sony RDR-HXD995 was not straight forward. The instruction manual was over complicated. I hardly ever have any problems with setting up electronic equipment but the instructions added to my confusion rather than making it simpler. Once set up it is relatively self explanatory to use, the navigation menus are simple to follow (much easier that using the instruction manual). However the navigation menus are of poor quality, yes they do the job but they look outdated. This is not what I expected from a Sony product.
Cosmetically the Sony RDR-HXD995 is not too bad, the black color and silver trim matches my TV, however this is a large item, it does stand out in comparison to my Xbox 360 and standard Sky box.
The quality of the recording is excellent; it surprised me how quickly 36 hours of recording can be used up. I have not bothered with the standard recording as anything I want to keep I placed onto DVD and anything that I did not need to keep was deleted. The deleting of items is extremely easy and only takes a couple of seconds to perform. Placing an item onto DVD is also very simple (all discs must be formatted first), this option appears when a new disc is placed into the Sony RDR-HXD995. Transferring from the hard drive to a DVD takes around 5 minutes for a 60 minute recording.
To be able to record and watch another channel at the same time you must have two digital receivers (one is in the Sony RDR-HXD995). Most modern televisions tend to have digital integrated. I do not see this as a problem but I can see others thinking it is.
My final comments are regarding the DVD player. I forget that this is available on the Sony RDR-HXD995. I tend to use my Xbox 360 to watch DVD's, I am not sure if this is just out of habit or it takes longer to set up than my Xbox 360 does. Also please note that I have not gone into detail on the technical features of the product I have included what I thought was important.
We've all heard of 'Sky+', the digital satellite tuner which allows you to pause and rewind live TV - but did you know that Freeview offer a similar service in the form of 'Freeview+'? Unlike Sky+ where there is only one box to choose from (well, technically two if you include 'Sky+ HD'), Freeview+ can be accessed by a wide variety of set top boxes made by a number of manufacturers, as long as they display the Freeview+ logo on the front. One such device is the Sony 'RDR-HXD995' which currently costs £269.99 from Amazon.
Having previously owned the HXD995's predecessor (the RDR-HXD890) and being rather disappointed with its performance (see previous review) I was hoping for better with the next version up, which has a hard drive capacity of 250GB. This equates to to roughly 36 hours of recordings in the high quality mode, and a whopping 710 hours in the bog-standard lowest setting. As well as recording via hard drive, the RDR-HXD995B also has the capacity to record onto DVD's, which is a bonus as it allows you to lend copies of your recordings to friends and family.
Although the device may sound impressive on paper, the user interface and general responsiveness let this machine down badly.
To get the good bits out of the way first, like the HXD890, the picture quality of the recordings are very good - the high quality setting results in playback that seems to match the sharpness and vibrancy of the original transmission without losing any detail. Secondly, the machine is fairly nice looking, and although a little chunky, it's smooth front panel is part of an overall pleasing design. However, in terms of the positives, these two points are all I can say in favour of the machine.
There are a couple of real criticisms I have with the Sony RDR-HXD995, and the first one regards the instructions. Never before have I struggled with a piece of literature in the way that I struggled with the manual. It's badly written and overcomplicated, and i've set up plenty of AV equipment in my time so I know it's not due to a lack of technical understanding on my part.
Secondly, and again this is a problem which is shared with its predecessor, you need two Freeview boxes to make the Freeview+ functions of this machine work to their full potential - which is quite ridiculous. The result of it having only a single internal tuner, means that it if you use this device as your main Freeview receiver, you won't be able to record one channel whilst watching another - something you shouldn't even question being able to do.
My final complaint relates to the main user interface / Electronic Program Guide, which looks terribly dated and resembles something from a video recorder circa 1995 - very poor indeed, especially when compared to Sky+.
A final word of advice from me if you're looking to get into the world of Freeview+, would be to recommend purchasing a simple Hard Drive recorder *making sure it has a twin tuner*, instead of splashing out on this model. That way you can do all the stuff that this machine should be able to do (barring DVD recording), without the need for two Freeview boxes.
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250GB capacity for a max recording of 710 hours
Electronic Programme Guide (8 Day on digital)
Integrated Digital and Analogue Tuner
HDMI output with 1080p upscaling
USB Port for Digital Camera
USB Port for PictBridge Printer
i.LINK (DV) input for Camcorder
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