Freeview HD PVR - Philips / Pace HDT 8520

professorhat

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2007
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Please note, I have since returned this box to John Lewis (gawd bless em!) and replaced it with the (IMHO) far superior Digital Stream DHR8205U box (see my review

The remote:



In situ on the rack:







Some shots of the setup screens (note the Post Code checker):





Some shots of the menus and EPG. Firstly the recorded programmes menu (apparently programmes recorded via Series Link get their own folder which sounds good!):



The EPG (through which you can set recordings, but not choose channels):



Choosing channels through the main screen:



Info screen showing details of current programme:



And finally, some comparison shots (hopefully they'll show up). Firstly, standard Channel 4, then Channel 4 HD:





And then ITV vs ITV HD:



 

daveh75

Well-known member
Jul 31, 2008
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professorhat:The EPG (through which you can set recordings, but not choose channels):
emotion-3.gif
Surely not? That sounds like bit of a design floor!
 

professorhat

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Dec 28, 2007
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So, first impressions.

What I like:

1. Picture quality - I tested the Philips against the Digital Stream DHR-8205 and the Philips picture was definitely clearer. It also looks on first impressions that standard def is better than my PlayTV unit through the PS3 and also the in-built tuner in my Pioneer 5090. So pretty damn good then!
2. The HD channels look excellent. Am impressed even with the upscaled versions of ITV and Channel 4, whilst native HD programmes (and thus all of BBC HD) look so much better than normal standard def programmes.
3. Recordings so far have all worked.
4. Everything has been very easy to setup and get going.
5. The remote is very good and fast to respond.

What I don't like:
1. At this stage, you can't directly choose a channel via the EPG, only set recordings. Crazy! I've been told this may well be fixed in an update due later this month so keep watching for updates.
2. No ability to pad around recordings e.g. add 10 minutes before and after recording a programme to ensure you don't miss anything. So long as the Accurate recording method works, then this isn't really necessary, but for some programmes which you really don't want to miss the end of, this would be a nice safety net.

That's it for the moment, more to follow. If you have any questions, feel free to post and I'll get back to you when I can (though I am away this weekend I'm afraid!).
 

professorhat

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Dec 28, 2007
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daveh75:professorhat:The EPG (through which you can set recordings, but not choose channels):
emotion-3.gif
Surely not? That sounds like bit of a design floor!

Indeed! See note above though about supposed software update to fix this. We shall see!
 
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Anonymous

Guest
If Phillips would public commit to that fix, I would probably order one.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
does the philips have an optical or co ax output for sound? I dont have an hd amp yet.
 

simonlewis

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Apr 15, 2008
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Fraz1:does the philips have an optical or co ax output for sound? I dont have an hd amp yet.

IIRC it has co-ax, i seem to remember this being discussed on another thread some time ago.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Clare Newsome:
I'm seeing Philips on Wednesday - will see if they have an answer re firmware...

Please, that would be awesome service.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
firstly, a massive thanx to professorhat for posting his mini review as i've been looking everywhere for a review on this machine and i'm also a playtv user so was interested in your findings etc. also professorhat, thanx for the John Lewis Oxford Street tip!! wanted one in time for last night's footie and even tho John Lewis doesn't list it on their website and also denied it's exsistance on their generic phone no., i called the Oxford street branch directly and they had 'em in stock and reserved one over the phone!! if anybody is interested, Comet (London) should have some in-store by Friday.

Now I'm not gonna lie, i love my playtv!! it's highly underrated IMO and was worried that this Philips box wouldn't live up to my expectations. good news! i agree with professorhat, this machine does the business!!

I've got a rubbish shared ariel with a weak signal on some channels but the Philips found all the channels (including the 3 HD ones) with ease and displays no picture break ups etc. within a couple of minutes i had the footie on ITV1HD-and it looked amazing!! was a bit worried about what the freeviewHD picture would be like as have only seen the BBCHD channel displayed in stores on un-calibrated tvs which looked worse than my upscaled PLAYtv broadcasts! i can confirm that whilst freeviewHD won't be scaring bluray any time soon, the picture quality is brilliant on a calibrated display!!

whilst only having this box since last night, i can recommend it with ease. no bad points found as yet..........except the EPG!

anybody who uses or has seen PLAYtv's EPG and display banners in general are going to be disappointed!! the philip's EPG does everything its supposed to do (except the problem listed above) but it's nowhere near as slick looking as the PS3 offering. b4 people start crying deal breaker, this is not a problem specific to this Philips box as other boxes i've seen also have this problem-even sky's OSD is rubbish. On my PLAYtv it's OSD's are in glorious 1080p with small, sharp fonts. everything else i've seen (including this box) has letters big enough that my gran could see from a mile away and looks like it's rendered in SD etc!.

sorry for the rant! to confirm, the Philips has great picture quality in HD and upscales SD great. the box runs completely silent. looks great with a good, clear display including channel name which other most boxes don't have.

to answer the question above, it does have an optical output.

for professorhat: whilst i've not had time to check out recording stuff yet i've seen on youtube the box offering you to be able to pad around the recordings. so it's either a feature they've removed or we've not found it yet!! let us know what your findings are after a few days use etc. cheers
 

professorhat

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2007
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Hi Dave,

Well, typically I was called away on work yesterday morning and have only just returned (as well as being away all weekend) so am only now getting a chance to see how the box is doing!

I've definitely seeing some of them, but most of these aren't really too much of a concern to me e.g. the corrupted Scheduled Recordings is one where recordings set in the Scheduled List don't look right e.g. a number of recordings had the same time, date and description settings in the list as the England match last night, yet the EPG still showed them correctly. Crucially though, I have come back today and everything I had set to record has recorded and accurate recording looks to have worked in that I haven't missed any of the beginning of the show, though I now need to find time to watch them to ensure the ending is there! So although this might be a bit confusing, at least the box is recording everything I told it to.

I've also noticed that Dragons Den (recorded on Friday night I think) has the echo issue that has been mentioned for Torchwood the week before i.e. sound is echoed slightly which is quite annoying. Reading so far has indicated this is actually an issue with the HD broadcast rather than the box though, so need to keep an eye on this one.

I've not had issues with Series Link recording +1 channels which is nice - again, the EPG suggests this is going to happen, but looking in my library, I still only have one copy of each Series Link which shows it's not happening - confusing maybe, but not as dreadful as everyone is making out.

On the padding, since accurate recording is working well, I don't really have an issue with it not being there. The PlayTV also had no option for padding and I had no issues with missed recordings on this so I'm not sure it's strictly necessary. At any rate, on anything which I've thought might overrun (such as Formula 1), I used to just set for a couple of programmes after the F1 show to record as well meaning I should get everything in the event recording did stop before the end.

For those not aware of the "certain other forum" which shall not be named (
emotion-5.gif
) I'll post the issues listed on it which I've been seeing after checking out some stuff I recorded tonight. I'll probably do this tomorrow as it would be nice just to sit down and watch the England game I missed last night due to work, all in its HD glory!
 

professorhat

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2007
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butch01:for professorhat: whilst i've not had time to check out recording stuff yet i've seen on youtube the box offering you to be able to pad around the recordings. so it's either a feature they've removed or we've not found it yet!! let us know what your findings are after a few days use etc. cheers

Have gone through the manual a few times and looked for something to do this but not seen anything. It's also been listed as a missing feature by several other users elsewhere so if they had it, looks like they've removed it. Would be interested to see the video though - do you have a link?
 

milesc

New member
May 3, 2008
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There's an Firmware upgrade available on the phillips website dated today.

Unfortunately i can't see any documentation to say what it upgrades.

Miles

Link removed. See professor hat below. Turns out to be a mistake by Phillips- and is not an upgrade for the 8520.
 

professorhat

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2007
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Clare Newsome:
I'm seeing Philips on Wednesday - will see if they have an answer re firmware...

That would be great - thanks Clare. They've actually posted a firmware update on the support page, but it actually contains an update for the 5520, not the 8520! Attempting to update is prevented due to it being for the wrong box fortunately.
 

professorhat

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2007
992
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milesc:
There's an Firmware upgrade available on the phillips website dated today.

http://www.p4c.philips.com/cgi-bin/dcbint/cpindex.pl?ctn=HDT8520/05&highlight=Link_LastUpds&mid=Link_LastUpds&mode=last_updates&scy=GB&slg=ENG

Unfortunately i can't see any documentation to say what it upgrades.

Miles

As my post just above, this is for the 5520, not the 8520 (you can see it in the name of the file within the zip file once you've downloaded it). Possibly this is just an error and the wrong file has been attached to the website - we'll see what happens over the next few days if this is the case.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
had the same problem with the echo on BBCHD monday night but has been fine today. after worried research , i agree it seems to be a broadcast issue and not with the box.
i think the bugs are small price to pay considering how early philips got this box out to the market considering it's main rival in terms of quality: the humux is nowhere to be seen!! at least we're certain to be watching the world cup in HD!!! long's a software update comes along it'll be fine. overall i'm happy with the purchase and it's free anyway.......won't be going to the pub as much for the world cup as HD at home will be hard to resist compared to the rubbish display in my local, so it'll pay for itself ;)
 
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Anonymous

Guest
can i just clarify, does it also upscale sd freeview broadcasts?
 

professorhat

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2007
992
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It will indeed, there are seven options on the box for HDMI output:
  • 576i
  • 576p
  • 720p
  • 1080i
  • 1080p
  • Auto
  • Original
So if you want the box to upscale either set to Auto (which will output at the maximum resolution supported by your TV) or choose one of the manual settings. If you want your amp / TV to upscale instead though (e.g. if you have a better upscaler in your TV), you can set to Original and this will automatically select the native signal which is being broadcast i.e. for HD channels, 1080i and for SD channels 576i.

At the moment, this causes a slight bug when changing between an SD channel and an HD channel where a brief message comes up about an HDCP error, but this disappears within a second or two so it's not really an issue.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Took the plunge and ordered one today from Richer sounds with 5 year warranty. Will be in store by Wednesday. I would have waited until what hi fi reviewed them next week but i also wanted an onkyo txsr607 amp ( heard one at my mates recently and it is sublime)and they only had a couple left so i was worried they would be gone by wednesday.I was getting 50 quid off if i bought the two together so made sense to order now. If it gets a really duff review compared to others available ( which i doubt ) i can always change it.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
can someone also tell me how you would update the box with a firmware update? I used to have a humax pvr and updates were downloaded over the airwaves, but firmware update appears to be different. Anyone shed any light? ta.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Thanks for the review, I purchased one from John Lewis on the 29/05/10 & set it up with ease. I agree the picture quality is good, better than through my Sony TV's onboard Freeview tuner. However I cannot set scheduled or instant recording (although pausing live TV does work). I select a show through the EPG & press record but nothing happens, no red light, no red shading on the EPG) Gone to factory reset & searched for software update but nothing !
 

Yanny

New member
May 31, 2009
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Had something similar happen to me.Set to record with the EPG,red light came on to show recording but no programme was stored.Tried again only this time no red light and pause live TV didn't work.Reformatted the hard drive and this seems to have cured the problem.

Have to agree that the picture is superb.
 

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