Monday, August 30, 2010

Topfield 7000 HD PVRt

I was looking at an online forum about Topfield pvrs. That is digital tv recorder in normal speak. We have issues with ours. It is unreliable. Sometimes it gets caught in the start up mode, showing Run and just getting stuck there. Other times it just loses all the stations and has to do a rescan of stations. It is getting old now, but it has always had these problems. R's newer but less sophisticated Topfield pvr works fine.

Our solution to the problem is to never turn it off. It generates a good bit of heat and uses something like 30w of power but what are we to do? The stress of not being able to immediately turn the tv on is worse than the cost of leaving it on. Well, perhaps not for me directly, but if it doesn't work, it must be my fault.

But we haven't had it as bad as some. Some posts on the forum indicate absolute nightmare stuff for owners. Some have just given up. I actually like the machine and what it can do and I feel caught between a rock and a hard place with it. Before anyone knowledgeable about them asks if I have upgraded the firm ware, yes I have, to the latest.

But Eureka! From the forum I have learnt that for about $300 Topfield will replace these machines with the newest model, worth about $700 I think.

For the non tech person, not that I am really, I just have patience, I would recommend the Tivo. You may not be able to skip through ads in five seconds and it may not have the bells and whistles, but I am sure it is an easier beast. Do avoid Freeview machines, whatever you do.

Here are some snaps of the basics of our Topfield pvr.

It is on ABC News 24, which is scrolling across.

Here it is replaying a recorded program, The Making of Modern Australia, also scrolling across.

This display comes up at the push of a button or when it starts or stops doing something. You can see I am watching one program and recording two others.

The tv guide. To record a programme, I scroll to the programme and press record. The information provided from the television stations is much more accurate that what is published in other guides. Although the times are displayed at starting at the published times, what actually records can be quite different. Even so, the end of a commercial tv show can still be chopped off. Where you get into to strife is when you set multiple recordings and for one to start, the other has to be stopped. You can also set the time manually as with a vcr.

There is only one programme set to record as I recently cleared it of all permanent recordings.

Here are a list of recordings. Yes, we are a bit behind with watching The Collectors. I made the folder called Movies to keep things in for an extended period. As well as movies, there are other bits and pieces.

This is the business part of the machine where you do stuffs.

Deeper into the menu. OSD is On Screen Display, EPG Electronic Programme Guide.

Deeper still, pvr settings. Time padding is adding time to the end of recordings so that you don't miss endings when they run overtime. We have the jump back set to 30 seconds to match the jump forward. In about 5 seconds we can get through a long add break. This feature is never included with Freeview models.

There is a myriad of other things it can do, most of which we never use. We only learnt how to use the picture in picture on the day I took these snaps. It was useful to keep an eye on the Tally Room which watching other things. You can move the little picture around the screen or make it larger or smaller.

Where it does fall down is that unlike taking a video cassette out of one vcr and playing it another, you can't easily do this. You can make transfers by cable connection, wifi or connecting an external drive or even USB stick, but although I played with a USB stick once, unsuccessfully, I have never bothered with a proper hard drive.


  1. Shhhh. next you'll have the feral kid wanting one and then poop will hit the fan when I have to learn how to programme the damn thing!

  2. Jayne, once I realised that the government decides what channel goes where and not me, it is pretty instinctive.

    Not really Scott. To do the basics a vcr can do is very easy.

  3. Next time you're over in the West drop by, I'll show you how great a media PC is.

  4. Tony, this will involve more cables running around the room?