We have been using a Sony DVD/HD recorder (hereafter HDR) for 7 or 8 years however over the last 12 months or so it has become increasingly fussy about which disks it will record to. One box of discs will work then the next, even if the same type from the same manufacturer, will not with no obvious pattern to the problem. As the pile of unusable blank DVDs grew the time for a new HDR loomed.

When buying new technology I always try to improve on what we have now and look ahead at what features will be useful in future. In the case of the HDR one with built-in FreeSat and ability to play or record Blu-ray discs were obvious considerations and so I set about searching for suitable models. That we live in The Netherlands but watch UK TV made the search a bit more difficult: models with same number can have different features plus my Dutch is not good. Eventually we selected a Panasonic model with two satellite tuners, a bigger hard disk (250gb vs 160gb), but no Blu-ray, to be shipped from England by Amazon. After several hours connecting cables (we have a lot of kit attached to our TV), tuning to channels, etc. we began to use it. The results were TERRIBLE! Neither of us could figure out how to work it properly. In theory we could record two programs whilst watching a third Freesat channel; we could not even manage to record one whilst watching another. Stupidly the two tuners used different numbers for the same channels plus you had no control over recording quality, which was set to highest, with the result that the disk had a capacity of about 40 hours compared to 80 hours (at standard setting) on our old smaller disk. It went back.

Of course, we still have to replace our old HDR. Sadly, it seems that “no control over recording” is a standard feature of all new HDRs so we have to buy an older Sony model – single analogue tuner, no EPG, no Blu-ray, so that we don’t find ourself with significantly less storage capacity. With hard disks at around €100 for 1tb why does an HDR with only 500gb cost so much more than a 250gb model.