Personal video recorders and net- savvy boxes are changing how we watch TV, writes
TIVO 320 MEDIA DEVICE Tivo, $ 499 mytivo. com. au
★ ★ ★ ★ ■ With 320 gigabytes available, you can record up to 60 hours of highdefinition TV or 120 hours of standarddefinition programs. The newest version of the Tivo offers a sevenday electronic program guide, options to record entire TV series, program suggestions based on your preferences and it can be programmed remotely via a smartphone or a computer. Tivo also offers access to ondemand TV shows with free and pay-per-view options. If your ISP is one of Tivo’s partners, your on-demand TV will be unmetered. Tivo connects to a TV via HDMI and can be hooked up to the internet with an ethernet connection or wireless adapter. ACER REVO 100 Acer, $ 999 acer. com. au
★ ★ ★ ★ ■ Nothing says ‘‘ smart’’ like a secret keyboard. This black box is more than a VCR replacement; it’s a fully-fledged computer with an entertainment focus. The Revo 100 is a discreet home-cinema PC, with a slim profile that wouldn’t look out of place beneath a TV. This machine can be used to play Blu-ray discs, record TV to its built-in 500GB drive, burn TV shows to DVD, or play music, video or photos from a USB stick ( it offers three USB slots). It will also connect to the internet easily, with ethernet or wi-fi available, and a 16x12cm panel can slide out from its front to be used as a touchpad or keyboard ( its keys light up). KOGAN HD SET-TOP BOX WITH PVR Kogan Technology, $ 39 kogan. com. au
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ■ Touted as Australia’s cheapest high-definition digital set-top box with PVR, Kogan has delivered a solid product that lets you record up to 500 hours of standarddefinition TV to any USB stick or hard disk. Users can record, ‘‘ timeshift’’ and schedule programs for recording. The device has an electronic program guide, will play MP3 music files or JPEG photos imported into its USB port, and connects to a TV with an HDMI output. The unit also has a parental lock, remote control and comes with an AV cable. There are some caveats, however. Labels on the remote can be hard to read, the PVR doesn’t work with all hard drives and you have to print the manual. FETCHTV FetchTV, $ 399 fetchtv. com. au
★ ★ ★ ★ ■ FetchTV will soon be available through all internet service providers except Telstra. The service, via a personal video recorder ( PVR), delivers digital free-to-air channels, subscription channels, video on demand and interactive content through unmetered broadband. It’s a pay-TV service with up to 30 channels, optional access to 30 films each month plus apps such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Wiki, Weather and Mathletics. Also, because the box is a PVR you can pause, rewind or record up to 500 hours of television. iiNet has a three-month free trial of the service for subscribers. T-BOX Telstra, $ 399 telstra.com.au
★ ★ ★ ★ ■ Bigpond subscribers will get the most out of the T-Box, but it can only be used in a limited way for those outside the Bigpond pool. As a PVR, you can watch free-to-air channels, pause, rewind and record up to 50 hours or 200GB of TV, use an on-screen electronic program guide and receive access to Bigpond movies ( rented), video on demand and seven Bigpond TV channels at unmetered rates. Youtube is also available, but its use is metered and counts towards your download total. The T-Box is available with Foxtel packages for Bigpond cable customers at an extra charge.