Topfield TF5800PVR Best Price
Topfield TF5800PVR Review
The TF5800PVR was first released by Topfield a number of years ago is still recognised my many as one of the original and best digital TV recorders on the market.
It has now been given a much needed facelift by Topfield and re-launched with the very latest firmware and Freeview Plus certifications.
As a company, Topfield has many thousands of loyal followers, who now refer affectionately to the company as ‘Toppy’.
The TF5800PVR is the little-brother of the TF5810PVR and offers much the same specifications other than a few features that we will look at a little later.
The main reason for the revised 5800 is for aesthetic purposes – but that has been achieved extremely well. Toppy has given its entry level unit a much more modern look, one that is very reminiscent of the recent LG497H DVD Freeview Recorder with its black and blue fascia with centrally positioned multi-function wheel. Whether Topfield or LG invented the ‘theme’ first is not for me to say, but I am certainly in favour of it! Perhaps the only other reason for the relaunch is the addition of updated firmware and bringing it in line with the changes in Freeview technologies which have been introduced since the 5800 was first launched. These changes are mainly those outlined by Freeview Plus (although the badge on the machine still calls it Freeview Playback) and this includes series link, chase play, pause and rewind live tv etc.
The 58000 is very graceful in its features – modest but extremely powerful. Importantly, it has twin digital tuners for recording and watching different channels simultaneously. It boasts a 250Gb hard drive sufficient for up to 137 hours continous recording, Common Interface for adding Top UP TV premium channels such as Setanta/ESPN and more. There is no HD upscaling on this model, so the outputs are via scart or normal RF aerial. There is indeed a scart cable included in the box, although it is only very basic so you may wish to buy a better one if you are ultra interested in picture quality.
Setting up the device is extremely simple using the fully automated setup routine. Some reviewers have commented that they found this complex, but if you follow the simple instructions included you shouldn’t have any need for concern. The routine is actually quite quick, with the only time-consuming part is waiting while the machine searches for new channels. This, however, is no different from any other freeview recorder on the market today. With the increasing spectrum of channels, you don’t mind waiting those 3-4 minutes.
Setting up the timers is easily achieved using the 7 day on-screen EPG. Naivgating is generally very easy, with clear on screen information bars for channel number, name, programme name etc. Many people rate Topfield as being the leader in this respect.
Using the remote control, you are able to perform a number of procedures to make your viewing more ‘interesting’! Aside from the now-standard varying speed of fast forward and rewind, with the Toppy you can use slow motion to repeat certain section of recording (for that clip you want to see over and over again) as well as being able to delete a section of recording. If it really bothers you, you can use this to delete the adverts from the middle of a recording for example, however the Freeview Plus features, should in theory, allow you to do this automatically.
Perhaps the most unique feature of the Topfields is their ability to add custom applications, knows as TAPS, which enhance the features of the already well-spec’d machine. The procedure is very similar to how you can now buy and download applications for your mobile phone.
Perhaps the best of these appiclations is a remote record facility – Toppy Remote Control – making it possible to send a text message to your Toppy to record a program – fantastic! If I had £1 for each time I was away from home and realised I had forgotten to set the PVR to record I’d be a millionnaire! You can get further details of these from the Topfield user forum that you will have access to once you have bought your machine. There is no cost for the Toppy Remote Control TAP itself but there is a £1.50 registration fee (payable via reverse charged SMS) and an ongoing fee of 25p per text message sent- which is still very reasonable. However, by the same interface, you can also set your Toppy via a website and for this there is no cost. To be able to achieve all of this, you will need to connect your 5800 to your PC via a USB cable and the PC will need to be on. While it is straight forward, it is probably not the sort of thing you will find most ‘basic users’ attempting. There are also now other methods of connecting your Toppy to your PC wireless, and details of that can be found on the instructions.
All in all this is a very capable machine, possibly slightly overpriced compared to some other brands. However, if you ask the hoards of loyal Toppy fans they will tell you that the extra little money goes a long way in achieving quality and stability in a machine you are going to rely on day in day out. There are no real downsides to this machine.
Even when compared to eh TF5810, some would say there is no justification in going for the better machine. Its only differences are a 500Gb hard drive and HD upscaling which is, reportedly, only as good as what you would get from a reasonable HD TV in any case, so you are really no better off.
So if you are deciding on TF5800PVR v TF5810PVR and you are on a budget (and let’s face it, who isn’t?!) take the facelifted 5800. Go, now!
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