cheap twin tuner PVR

morven

Standard Member
I've been the proud owner of a Topfield 5800 for a few years now and it's just beginning to misbehave. Nothing too serious yet but from perusing this forum I can see that it's not going to get better.
I'm desperate to get something quickly in case it suddenly gives up the ghost but just want something cheap as a stand in for now.
I've spotted this Digihome PVR for £59.99 at ebuyer. Is it too good to be true or would it do for now? Digihome PVR 250GB Freeview Receiver twin Scart, twin.. | Ebuyer.com

Thanks, morven
 

MarkPax

Active Member
Why not buy a replacement TF5800?
TOPFIELD TF5800t PVR GRADED NO HDD FITTED on eBay (end time 17-Dec-10 11:59:02 GMT)

Turbosat (UK distributor IIRC) is selling off old stock. They sometimes have them with disks as well, a couple of weeks ago I bought 2 with disks for £69.95 + delivery each. They seem to find a new batch of a dozen or so once a fortnight, sell them off, then there is a gap. Last week they had 7 for sale with disks in, but they seem to have gone. If you're prepared to wait a couple of weeks you could go that way?

If you are in a real hurry you could buy one with no HDD as above and swap your current HDD into the new box? Depends if the instability is disk or PCB related?

I had a good look at the ones I bought, I believe they are brand new PCBs in "used" boxes. Presumably these are customer returns which blew up or failed, Turbosat drops new innards in them and sells them off. 3 month warranty.

There is a thread on them at toppy.org.uk:-
Toppy.org.uk ~ View topic - Turbosat Selling Facelift 5800 (no disk) for £50
There is a guy called Jumbo who is obviously very down on Turbosat, everyone else seems fairly positive with their purchase.

Another option is to get your existing TF5800 power supply serviced.... there is a poster on Toppy.org called andyfras who will do a PSU repair for £27 ish (IIRC), eg
Toppy.org.uk ~ View topic - Help please! 5800 crashes a LOT :-(
Apparently this fixes lots of instability problems. I've not tried it myself but his story seems quite plausible.

To be honest I have been through most of the competition and a Toppy + MyStuff is streets ahead of any other SD Freeview box out there. I have tried Vestel (Alba/Wharfedale/Hitachi etc); TVonics; Sagemcom. Humax is probably closest to the Toppy but still not as good. I can't comment on the HD boxes but the torrents of bug reports on these forums doesn't look good to me.
 

MarkPax

Active Member
Re your specific question on Digihome, as I understand it, it's another Vestel clone:-http://www.vestelpvr.futaura.co.uk/

Vestel boxes are OK, but you need to be aware of the following problems which IMHO are big
- they stutter on recordings, every 10-30 minutes, more if they are under heavy load (eg twin record, using the EPG while recording). The video and audio skip 1-2 seconds, meaning you miss punchlines to panel shows! I am told "all Vestels do this"
- they slow down a lot when the HDD gets full, my Vestel took about 15 seconds to load up the Recordings Library when the disk was 1/2 full. It also took 15-30 seconds to delete a programme after watching. Stupid slow
- the EPG starts off fast, but slows down over time, you need to reboot every day
- they don't buffer live TV. You can pause, but not rewind, live TV.
Other than that, they are OK
These problems are such that I took mine back to Argos on Monday. The stuttering and slowness drove me mad.

Another specific problem which might catch you out is:- older Vestel boxes need a software upgrade to cope with some specific problems post digital switchover. On some transmitters older Vestels stutter continuously on BBC channels (IIRC). They need software V13 to fix it (IIRC). But I don't know whether your proposed box has V13, or whether Vestel is still broadcasting it as an over the air download.
 

morven

Standard Member
Thanks to MarkPax for your replies.
However, I am so unable to do or understand anything technical that I still haven't downloaded the stuff needed to sort out my PVR after the last digital changeover of all the channels happened. I just scroll through to find what I want. I know that's terrible and I'm sure I could do it if I put my mind to it but anyway it sort of cuts out your advice in your first reply.
Having read through the second reply, I think I'm just going to pay out a bit more and go for the Humax 9150T, although as I said I just wanted something to keep me going until I decide what to upgrade to.
Thanks again for your attempts to help me. morven
 

prking

Active Member
Markpax has, unintentionally I'm sure, exagerated problems with Vestel boxes and omitted the positives.
The stuttering issue refers to one particular type of box (t825) from one transmitter and was cured by a software upgrade.
When the library is very full then it can take 10 to 15 seconds to load. But this is the extreme case.
Whilst the old boxes did need a software upgrade, they haven't been made or available for several years.
On the positive side, Vestel boxes have a very good implementation of the Freeview+ features. Certainly much more reliable than the Humax. In my experience you will very rarely miss the start or end of the programme and there aren't minutes of adverts to fast forward through at the beginning.
So overall, for the price they are very good. They just work.
 

creddish

Well-known Member
I've been the proud owner of a Topfield 5800 for a few years now and it's just beginning to misbehave. Nothing too serious yet but from perusing this forum I can see that it's not going to get better.
I'm desperate to get something quickly in case it suddenly gives up the ghost but just want something cheap as a stand in for now.
I've spotted this Digihome PVR for £59.99 at ebuyer. Is it too good to be true or would it do for now? Digihome PVR 250GB Freeview Receiver twin Scart, twin.. | Ebuyer.com

Thanks, morven
Rather than get the PVR from ebuyer I would be inclined to spend an extra £10 at Argos here and get a brand new Vestel PVR. Note the ebuyer units are "Grade A" and likely to be older used units returned by their original owners. Both the ebuyer Digihome and the Argos Hitachi are Vestel manufactured. The Hitachi uses the latest hardware but has the limitation of having only one Scart output which may be a problem for you.

Reference your later post the Humax Freeview+ PVRs have a significant issue with delayed starts to recordings. See the thread here.

Colin
 

MarkPax

Active Member
The stuttering issue refers to one particular type of box (t825) from one transmitter and was cured by a software upgrade.
When the library is very full then it can take 10 to 15 seconds to load. But this is the extreme case....
I had a T835 and it stuttered, it was not related to Digital Switch Over, it was related to the load on the CPU. When a second recording started it always put a stutter on the first recording, ditto when one ended. also if I used the EPG while recording, and finally it stuttered "at random" a few times per hour. Creddish and Futaura assured me "they all stutter" to some extent. To me that turned out to be intolerable, I want a picture "like live TV", and I didn't get it.

My disk was 1/2 full and it always took a minimum of 10 seconds to load. It also took a minimum of 10 seconds to delete. Maxima were sometimes much longer.

Re the software load I got caught out by this with a TVonics box on eBay, it had old software on it and I had to send it to TVonics for new software, £9 postage. I just wanted to suggest to the OP that he at least ask the seller whether it has the right software, or research how he would get the right software if he bought it. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough.

On the positive side, Vestel boxes have a very good implementation of the Freeview+ features. Certainly much more reliable than the Humax. In my experience you will very rarely miss the start or end of the programme and there aren't minutes of adverts to fast forward through at the beginning.
So overall, for the price they are very good. They just work.
This is very true, their Freeview+ software is the bee's knees, much better than Sagemcom's for instance. Also they have nice advert skip buttons.
My personal problem was "just working" should include "picture like live TV", and I didn't get that. I could have coped with the slowness if I got every punchline on Have I Got News For You, and with the Vestel I missed some.

But you are absolutely right, there is a lot to like about Vestels, particularly for the price. But caveat emptor.
 

MarkPax

Active Member
In fact I wanted to make a bigger point, which I obviously failed to do

If you're coming from a Toppy, you'll probably find the current crop of SD Freeview+ PVRs quite disappointing.

Looking at the contenders in 2010 we see
- Sagemcom, unreliable series recording, slow EPG, won't record radio, buggy
- Vestel, slow library, occasional stuttering, no rewind live TV
- TVonics, hopelessly crashy, lip sync problems
- Humax, misses 1st minute of recordings, illogical menus (IMHO)
- Philips/Pace, crashy or so I have heard
It's easy to get seduced by the superficial marketing of these (100 hours of TV! Series Link!) and be blinded to their basic shortcomings.

IMHO none of the current crop of boxes is as reliable, as easy to use, with as good picture as the Toppy (c.2005) or the Thomson DHD4000 (c.2003). Note that the Humax is probably the best of the lot, and that's one of the the oldest designs on the list.

I have been through Sagemcom, TVonics, Vestel. Most have gone back as not fit for purpose. I would still swap any of them for my DHD4000 in a heartbeat if it still had a working EPG. I have ended up with a Toppy, and IMHO it's the best of a pretty sorry lot (even without MyStuff).

So what I was trying to say to the OP was, I expect you'll find that Digihome box a disappointment when compared to your Toppy, and pointed out some specific shortcomings of it. Not to say a "new" Vestel box eg Creddish's example from Argos isn't reasonable value for money. It's just that it's IMHO nothing like as good as OP's current Toppy.
 

creddish

Well-known Member
In fact I wanted to make a bigger point, which I obviously failed to do

If you're coming from a Toppy, you'll probably find the current crop of SD Freeview+ PVRs quite disappointing.

Looking at the contenders in 2010 we see
- Sagemcom, unreliable series recording, slow EPG, won't record radio, buggy
- Vestel, slow library, occasional stuttering, no rewind live TV
- TVonics, hopelessly crashy, lip sync problems
- Humax, misses 1st minute of recordings, illogical menus (IMHO)
- Philips/Pace, crashy or so I have heard
It's easy to get seduced by the superficial marketing of these (100 hours of TV! Series Link!) and be blinded to their basic shortcomings.

IMHO none of the current crop of boxes is as reliable, as easy to use, with as good picture as the Toppy (c.2005) or the Thomson DHD4000 (c.2003). Note that the Humax is probably the best of the lot, and that's one of the the oldest designs on the list.

I have been through Sagemcom, TVonics, Vestel. Most have gone back as not fit for purpose. I would still swap any of them for my DHD4000 in a heartbeat if it still had a working EPG. I have ended up with a Toppy, and IMHO it's the best of a pretty sorry lot (even without MyStuff).

So what I was trying to say to the OP was, I expect you'll find that Digihome box a disappointment when compared to your Toppy, and pointed out some specific shortcomings of it. Not to say a "new" Vestel box eg Creddish's example from Argos isn't reasonable value for money. It's just that it's IMHO nothing like as good as OP's current Toppy.
Certainly it is the case that the responsiveness of the Vestel PVRs is related to how intensively they are used and how often they are rebooted (either by using the Low Power standby option if the particular model has this feature or alternative power cycling it or on some models pressing and holding down the standby button on the front panel of the box). I think from what you have said you used your T835 intensively so this could account for the high frequency of stuttering you experienced. You may recall that I and other users have found that the Vestel PVRs tend to have a higher frequency of stuttering when first used and this settles down after a while. I recall you reported this phenomenon at one point.

Because I now use my Vestel T825 LP250 only as a back-up for my Humax 9200 the Vestel is not used intensively, recording only about 20 recordings a week. I generally only playback a few of those recordings each week when the Humax fails to record or the relatively poor Accurate Recording performance of the Humax produces un-acceptable results. Given that my Vestel is therefore used lightly I don't recall having had a single "stutter" for as long as I can remember.

I find having two PVRs gives me virtually 100% combined reliability which is very worthwhile doing IMO. If I had to choose just one PVR it would be a Vestel simply because of the better Accurate Recording performance.

Regarding rewinding Live TV. The Vestel PVRs do have the facility to do this but it has to be first activated on the current channel by pressing the Pause button rather than the buffer being permanently activated as on other PVRs. Using this method has the advantage that the HDD is only running when required conserving energy and possibly prolonging disk life. IMO it is better to press the Record button rather than activating the buffer. This way you retain total flexibility for playing back the recording at any time. Also on the Vestels if you use the Timeshift feature and inadvertently FF to current time you lose the buffer so can't go back.

I was on the verge of buying a Thomson DHD4000 in 2005 but was tempted by a cheaper Technovision PVR101 on sale at Aldi at the time (big mistake). However, I could not now accept a PVR without the Freeview+ Series Record and Accurate Recording features. I think it is fair to say that adding these features has intensified the demands on the processing requirements of PVRs which has contributed to poorer reliability.

Colin
 

MarkPax

Active Member
... the Vestel PVRs tend to have a higher frequency of stuttering when first used and this settles down after a while. I recall you reported this phenomenon at one point.

Regarding rewinding Live TV. The Vestel PVRs do have the facility to do this but it has to be first activated on the current channel by pressing the Pause button rather than the buffer being permanently activated as on other PVRs.

Colin
My stuttering did reduce, but unfortunately not to zero. Once or twice a programme, enough to really disappoint. Re rewinding, you can only rewind back to the point you pressed pause, which kind of defeats the object of it:- if you are watching the football live and want to see that goal again, you can't, unless as you say you had the foresight to "force" the Vestel to buffer when you started watching. Not a big deal for me, but I know it's quite important to some people. Re running 2 boxes, I quite agree, I now have Toppy + Sagem, it's a hassle but I think it's the only way to get to 100%.
 

darucla

Active Member
I've been the proud owner of a Topfield 5800 for a few years now and it's just beginning to misbehave. Nothing too serious yet but from perusing this forum I can see that it's not going to get better.
I'm desperate to get something quickly in case it suddenly gives up the ghost but just want something cheap as a stand in for now.
I've spotted this Digihome PVR for £59.99 at ebuyer. Is it too good to be true or would it do for now? Digihome PVR 250GB Freeview Receiver twin Scart, twin.. | Ebuyer.com

Thanks, morven

Whatever you decide about a new PVR, you can almost certainly find a buyer for your 5800, either on Ebay or via a forum. Even if sold as not working.
 

creddish

Well-known Member
Whatever you decide about a new PVR, you can almost certainly find a buyer for your 5800, either on Ebay or via a forum. Even if sold as not working.
I must say your post today and the one from Nigel Whitfield preceding it in the thread here doesn't bode well for prospective Toppy purchases.

Colin
 
M

mrfreeview

Guest
I've been the proud owner of a Topfield 5800 for a few years now and it's just beginning to misbehave. Nothing too serious yet but from perusing this forum I can see that it's not going to get better.
I'm desperate to get something quickly in case it suddenly gives up the ghost but just want something cheap as a stand in for now.
I've spotted this Digihome PVR for £59.99 at ebuyer. Is it too good to be true or would it do for now? Digihome PVR 250GB Freeview Receiver twin Scart, twin.. | Ebuyer.com

Thanks, morven

Have you checked out the PSU in your Toppy?

Various Capacitors in the PSU might now be in need of replacement.

You can do this by yourself or if you prefer there are people on the Toopy forum who offer a replacement service.

I hope my post has been of use :)
 

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