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Philips unveils Freeview+ HD PVR and set-top box

Philips HDT8520 and DTR5520 to hit UK in May

Philips HDT8520 Freeview+ HD PVR

Philips has announced the launch of both a Freeview+ HD PVR – the HDT8520 – and a Freeview HD set-top box – the DTR5520. 

The Philips HDT8520 joins the Humax HD-Fox T2 and the Toshiba HDR5010 PVR in being one of the first Freeview+ HD PVRs available in the UK. This twin-tuner PVR features a 500GB hard drive that Philips claims will have space to record up to 250 hours of programmes in standard definition (SD) or 125 hours in HD quality. 

The features list also includes:

  • Dolby Digital 5.1 audio output 
  • The ability to pause live TV with a 3-hour timeshift buffer 
  • An 8-day electronic programme guide (EPG). 

Philips also says that the HDT8520 will operate ‘almost silently’ – Which? will put this to the test in our future lab tests to see how it compares to the noise levels of other Freeview PVRs.

If you want to take advantage of Freeview HD when it becomes available where you live, get prepared with a Best Buy HD TV set from our LCD and plasma TV review

First Philips Freeview HD set-top box: the DTR5520

Also announced at the Philips launch event yesterday was the DTR5520 Freeview HD set-top box, designed in partnership with Pace. Pace has owned the license to produce set-top boxes under the Philips brand name since April 2008. 

Philips claims that this receiver has an energy consumption of less than 6W in active mode – ‘well below the industry norm’, and less than 1W in standby. Which? will test these claims in our independent lab tests as part of our next Freeview and Freesat set-top box review.

The DTR5520 measures 290x160x37mm, and the HDT8520 240x210x65mm. Both new Philips boxes will offer automatic installation and channel updates, 1080p HD upscaling, and USB and ethernet ports. 

Consumers will be able to buy the Philips DTR5520 for £159 from mid-April, and the Philips HDT8520 PVR for £299 from May 2010.

If you can’t wait that long to experience the crystal clarity of HD, check out how Which? rates HD set-top boxes from Freesat, Sky and Virgin in the Which? reviews of Freeview and Freesat set-top boxes and PVRs. 

What is Freeview HD?

High definition (HD) is one of the most significant developments in TV in recent years. It lets you watch a wide range of TV programmes – from nature documentaries to sport – in crystal clarity. 

But until now, if you wanted to watch HD TV you’ve either had to pay a subscription to Sky or Virgin Media, or have a dish fitted to the side of your house to watch it via a Freesat signal.

Digital Switchover has meant that it’s now possible to broadcast an HD signal via your TV aerial so you can watch HD TV on Freeview, making HD broadcasts accessible in a whole new way. 

How to watch high definition TV on Freeview

To watch Freeview HD, you’ll need three things:

  • To live in an area where the Freeview HD signal is broadcasting. At the moment that’s only London and Manchester, but other major cities will receive a signal in time to watch the 2010 football World Cup. It will be rolling out to the rest of the UK over the next couple of years – usually in line with Digital Switchover dates. Find out when your region switches to digital TV in the Which? guide to digital switchover explained. If your region’s already switched to digital, you’re likely to get a Freeview HD signal at some time in 2010.
  • An HD-ready TV, such as those featured in the Which? review of flat-screen TVs.
  • A Freeview HD-tuner – this could be in the form of a Freeview HD set-top box such as the HD-FOX T2, which will work with an existing HD-ready TV. If you’re in the market for a new TV though, you might want to hold out for an HD TV with a Freeview HD tuner built in – likely to be hitting the shops soon.  

Find out more about Freeview HD and how to get it in the Which? guide – Freeview HD explained.

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