Beyonwiz DP-P2

One or more of these PVRs will provide you with most of the functionality you need to convert your home network into a home entertainment system. It will allow you to record the shows you like - whether you know that they are on or not - and watch them when you like. It can also be used to convert all your old video tapes so that you will be able to continue watching those shows without needing to keep your VCR.

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This PVR is available with several different hard drive sizes depending on how much you want to pay for it. There are also refurbished units available even cheaper (although I have not actually tested such a unit - although presumably one of the units I which I returned will be refurbished to replace the malfunctioning chip).

These PVRs are relatively easy to set up. I suggest that you start with the networking so that you can then set the clock option to 'Network' where it will then get the time from an official time source on the internet each time the unit turns on. You will also need to scan for all the available channels prior to being able to exit from the config option. The next thing to do is to get an Ice TV account if you don't already have one (each unit comes with three months free Ice TV to either get you started or to add to your existing account) and set up the PVR to access the IceTV account. Your PVR can now actually work as a PVR with ICe TV supplying a full on screen program guide to allow you to select one off shows to record as well as your being able to tell the Ice TV site what sorts of shows you like and have it tell your PVR to record them for you automatically (which is what distinguishes a PVR from an ordinary hard drive video recorder). You will probably also want to add some padding to the front and end of all recordings just in case the show starts slightly early or the prior show runs over so that your show starts late.

One PVR that I received had a malfunctioning front panel clock where when the unit is turned off the hour never gets changed and so the unit would never realise that it needs to turn itself on again to start recording a show. As this fault was there from the start the supplier replaced the unit with another identical unit that didn't have that fault.

Ice TV can only update the shows to be recorded when the unit is turned on so as well as being able to schedule recordings via the program guide on the unit itself, you can also tell the unit to turn on while particular shows are on without recording them. This allows the recording schedule to be updated where you do not have many programs currently scheduled and where a new recording may come before any of those that are scheduled. I have never needed to use this option though.

Another option I have never used but which I probably ought to is the one that allows you to edit the recorded file to remove the leading and trailing padding and all the ads. I guess using the arrow keys to skip over those parts of the recording is so easy and it isn't like you are going to watch the same show a lot of times.

There is software available from Beyonwiz that will allow you to copy recordings from your PVR onto your computer as well as several third party programs that do similar. You can use these to save your shows to your computer or network storage and so free up space on the PVR so it can record more shows. The PVR can still read the copied files provided that the device you copied them to is turned on and so the actual amount of storage that your PVR can use to record shows is effectively unlimited.

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