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Timmy Downawell

Topfield TF5000PVRt Reviews

278 posts in this topic

OK, I've got mine hooked up and operating now. Was a little bit confused by the array of RF in/outs on the back but got it sussed. Still not entirely sure what the third pair are for.

The menu system has a bewildering array of sub-menus and options, but I waded through them and that was ok as well.

As for operation, I did an auto channel scan and picked up everything including the Wollongong channels. One thiing I've noticed is that I can only receive these channels on the tuner which has the antenna lead connected to it: the second tuner connected via the provided loop coax doesn't receive enough signal. Of course my Wollongong signal is marginal at best ... and it's no problem if I can only get them on one tuner. PLus the crap weather has probably made reception worse.

As I haven't had any experience with other PVRs, operation of the recording and time shift features is a bit of a learning curve for me, and I'll be playing around with this over the next few days to figure it all out. Doesn't seem entirely intuitive so far..

I have managed to crash it once already... not sure exactly how, but switched it off and on again from the remote and it came right again. No other buttons would operate.

One of the things I'll be doing will be checking out recording of low signal channels, something which the Strong has had a lot of problems with. If I can record WIN then I'd say this unit can probably do anything.

I'm sure I'll have a lot more to say about the TF in the days and weeks to come.. but so far I love it and I can't wait to put it to good use.

Thanks Topfield! :blink:

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Here are the issues I've had so far... Don't take this the wrong way -- I'm really happy with it -- but nonetheless...

Reception

With our flat's evil boosted+split roof antenna (if you touch the antenna cable shield, you get an electric zap), analog TV is unwatchable -- there is a constant horizonal smear that moves up and down the screen.

The Teac DV-B300 handled the roof antenna well, with only an occasional bit of breakup on SBS. The Teac also worked fine with rabbit ears (lower signal strength, but less breakup).

The Topfield flat-out refuses to accept a signal from the roof antenna, even after being tuned in with the rabbit ears. The rabbit ears work fine, but its tuner is definately less sensitive than the Teac's. Still, that's not a problem.

Channels

You can create channel favourites, and you can delete channels, but you can't "skip" them like you can with the Teac (when a channel is skipped, you can still get to it, but the Ch+ and Ch- buttons ignored them).

Internal clock

You have two distinct choices for setting the internal clock, and both have their disadvantages:

You can have the time automatically set, but the various channels have a slightly different idea of what the time is... and Ch10 in Sydney seems to be at least 10 minutes slow at the moment! So if I'm watching ChX, it might miss the beginning of a show on another channel because it thinks it's not time to record it yet.

You can set the time manually, but if it loses power, it loses the time. Not a good thing for a timer-recording device.

As a remedy, I'd like the option to nominate a single channel as the source of time synchronisation. Immediately after a power failure, it should automatically request the time from my nominated channel.

Recording schedules

In the schedule list, it would be nice if the nominated filename was displayed rather than the channel's full title.

The modes aren't clearly documented. What does "weekends" mean? That it will repeat my recording at the same time on saturdays and sundays? Hmm...

The Now/Next information is weird -- I got the next info to show by pressing "i" then "V+"! I couldn't get any extended information from any channel, though the first few words of the program synopsis was visible in the "i" window.

Connections

One thing that irritated me about the Teac DV-B300 was that it didn't let me output S-Video and composite at the same time. But despite the separate connectors on the Topfield, you still need to select "one of the above" from the menus!

Games

The games are:

* A tragic pac-man clone, which just doesn't feel right

* A columns clone, which is a bit fiddly to play

* A pretty decent breakout/brickles game with various twists

General feel

It's slow to turn on (understandable).

It's slow to begin time-shifting (understandable).

It's fast to change channels.

Rewind and fast-forward suck (the time-movement mode is much better and should be the default action of the << and >> buttons.

I haven't found any use for the |< and >| buttons yet except to change the position of the PIP. It would be nice when timeshifting if they took me to the beginning of timeshift space and to live TV, respectively.

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Channels

You can create channel favourites, and you can delete channels, but you can't "skip" them like you can with the Teac (when a channel is skipped, you can still get to it, but the Ch+ and Ch- buttons ignored them).

Set up your favourites groups, i.e. put 2/3/7/9/10 into a main group, and EPGs etc into another group.

Hit the FAV button to select the group and a channel, and after that it'll stay in that group when you use CH+/-. Don't bother selecting the All Channels group.

I haven't found any use for the |< and >| buttons yet except to change the position of the PIP. It would be nice when timeshifting if they took me to the beginning of timeshift space and to live TV, respectively.

I thought maybe to skip to bookmarks but I'm only guessing and probably completely wrong there.

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The device driver for the USB2 interface:

http://work.irkudos.co.kr/data/product/software/TfBulk.zip

The file upload/download program:

http://www.topfield.co.kr/technote/main.cg...ltair_1.121.zip

...which asks for a DLL found in an earler release:

http://www.topfield.co.kr/technote/main.cg...ltair_1.100.zip

Let us know if this program can decode the downloaded video:

DVR Studio

Also, what is the firmware version ? Is it TF5000PVRT(A)-TOPFIELD-Tfd-Sys_416-2003Nov07 ?

-- Rod

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OK my timeslip problems have been sorted out. I live in Melbourne and here at work (Toorak) the aerial points to the UHF FTA rebroadcast from the Como centre. When timeslipping from channels broadcast from the Como centre, the picture and sound breaks up.

Rescanned the channels and made sure I was tuning into the ones from the Dandenongs - timeslip works a treat so there's something dodgy about the Como rebroadcast.

USB works great. Took about 1 minute to dump a 5 minute recording. Just need to find software that will let me watch the .rec file (simply renaming to .mpg didn't work), and/or convert to DVD-compatible MPEG-2 for burning to DVD.

Recording two channels simultaneously while playing back something recorded earlier worked a treat.

Once you learn how to use it, timeslip is a breeze. Get your mates over and impress them as you grab a beer without missing a second of the cricket!

Start watching the 8:30pm movie at 9:00pm and timeshift through the ads! :blink:

Very very happy with my purchase!! I didn't think I'd get something cooler than my iPod, but this kills it as the ultimate gadget.

More to come...

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USB works great. Took about 1 minute to dump a 5 minute recording. Just need to find software that will let me watch the .rec file (simply renaming to .mpg didn't work), and/or convert to DVD-compatible MPEG-2 for burning to DVD.

See my post above for an application from Germany which decodes the .rec files for the Satellite version - let us know if it works for our Aussie version.

Also, (to all reviewers), how noisy is the hard drive during the following conditions:

1/ Idle (no timeshift) - how long does it take to spin down ?

2/ Timeshift only

3/ Record and timeshift

4/ playback

5/ 2 records and one playback

In number 5, is there significant disk seek "rattle" ?

-- Rod

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Got mine this arvo - haven't had much time to play with yet, but one thing is that it didn't pick up SBS - I scanned several times, both auto and manual, but still no luck... :blink:

There's a fair bit to learn with this device with all its capabilities of recording and time-slipping etc.

PQ looks good - but no SBS!?!?

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Hi TigerLeo62,

There will be a software update available by Monday that will fix the SBS problem, we had the same problem with our TF3000T and fixed it imediatly but some how it slipped through again on the PVRt, Sorry mate :blink: !! We will post here as soon as the update is available.

Toppy HQ

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Also, (to all reviewers), how noisy is the hard drive during the following conditions:

1/ Idle (no timeshift) - how long does it take to spin down ?

2/ Timeshift only

3/ Record and timeshift

4/ playback

5/ 2 records and one playback

So far I've left timeshift enabled and haven't noticed it at all while watching anything. I've tried recording two channels plus a playback and there's a slight scratching noise as the HDD writes, but it's pretty quiet and not noticeable unless you mute the programme you're watching.

There's a slight "quidgy" noise when you change channels as it restarts recording on the new channel, and of course it's only noticeable as there's no sound output while the channel changes (and it's fast anyway). I'm loathe to turn off the timeshift as there have been so many times when I've caught the end of something being said (or whatever) and wanted to be able to go back -- and now I can. :blink:

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Sound like a great box.

A little annoyed that its beaten the Vision Plus DTV PCI card/software to the punch of dual tuner functionality, but apparently we will be getting that soon. And at least HD with the PC is possible.

Though for the average punter at present whom cannot be bothered stuffing round with a PC it certainly seems to be the best thing on the market at present

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Hi Simon, as I don't read German, could you indicate which software (on that link you gave us) you are refering too?

I don't read German either. Google's language tools are handy here. :blink:

You want ProjectX_jar_0815.zip, and as long as you have Java Runtime Environment on your computer, double-clicking the jar file inside will run the program.

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More to report...

Scaling quality

Whilst not fantastic, the Widescreen-on-4:3-tv scaler is visibly better than the Teac DV-B300, and is possibly close to or on par with most DVD players I've seen I don't know how well this compares to other STBs.

Recording a dodgy signal

I recorded SBS World News this evening, and although there were reception problems, they were not exacerbated by the recording process -- viewing timeshift was no worse than live.

Eek, bug!

At one point, the Topfield simply decided to not bother with timeshifting or recording anymore. It was creating 0-megabyte files, and the timeshifting looked like it was suffering from a data-not-being-saved problem as well. It was rectified by power-cycling the unit, though I must say I'm not sure the problem is completely gone now... I've had a number of failed attempts to record short bursts of a program.

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I've had a number of failed attempts to record short bursts of a program.

Are you trying to record a minute or less of a program? The manual says that it won't store small recordings (for what ever reason)...

Thanks for the name of the ProjectX_jar_0815.zip file!

So, Google translates, hey? Must admit I have never tried it...

Last night I watched the 3.5 hour Director's cut of "Das Boot", so I feel as if I should almost be able to speak German now! :blink:

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Well I have had the Topfield box now for 5 hours - and so far very impressed.

Mucked around with downloading files to my PC and uploading MP3 files to the PVR.

Picture quality is excellent.

Might take me a little while to master driving the remote though.

A couple of things so far

1. Would have been nice to have a single button forward time jump button - to complement the single button reverse time jump.

2. Using the antenna loop cable between Tuner 1 and Tuner 2, I can pick up all of the stations on Tuner 1 but I can't pick up ABC on Tuner 2. Anyway around this ?

3. How will this box cope with daylight savings if you chose to use the GMT offset method for setting the time.

Not quite a Tivo in terms of functionality - but the best thing I have seen in the Australian market and I definitely won't be sending mine back.

Update 7/12

Sent an email off to Jai on Saturday night - and got a response back 30 mins later - what a guy.

Jai believes that the problem that I am experiencing is due to that fact that the ABC Canberra frequency is slightly off centre (ie 295.625Mhz where normally the frequency for the stations are either .0 or .5) This is causing problems with SBS in some parts of the country as their frequency is also slighty off centre. Jai hopes that the software upgrade that will come out this week will fix this.

Got to be happy with this level of customer service

Update 9/12

Applied the software version that fixes the .625 problem and I can now receive ABC on the second tuner.

One very happy Topfield owner

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2. Using the antenna loop cable between Tuner 1 and Tuner 2, I can pick up all of the stations on Tuner 1 but I can't pick up ABC on Tuner 2. Anyway around this ?

You can copy settings from tuner 1 to tuner 2 or the other way around, or combine channels of both tuners on to both tuners. But, whether this will help you receive CH 2 on the second tuner may be another question!

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Well I'm JEALOUS!

At least I'll have the tools to do stuff on my computer when mine does eventually arrive in Adelaide (Truscotts). Thanks, Simon.

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2. Using the antenna loop cable between Tuner 1 and Tuner 2, I can pick up all of the stations on Tuner 1 but I can't pick up ABC on Tuner 2. Anyway around this ?

That sounds like the problem I'm having, my weakest channels on the first tuner are lost on the second. I tried the 5V setting in cse that helped but it didn't. I wonder if splitting the aerial before inputting it to the two tuners will help or just make for a flakier reception on both.

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I'm not having problems with the second tuner at all. One thing I did notice was the the plugs were rather tight and that it took a bit of pressuer to push the cables in - perhaps your RF loop cable is not in all that well?

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perhaps your RF loop cable is not in all that well?

...trust me it's in! :blink: I did swap the cables around to see whether one tuner was simply more sensitive than the other, but it appears that the second one in the loop suffers a bit for it. For me as it only affects the Wollongong channels it's no big deal... but for people with more marginal reception for their main channels it could pose a problem, as it seems to have for PeterP.

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...trust me it's in! :P

And, I know this might sound silly, but have you connected the RF Loop 1 Out to Antenna 2?

Hmmm, you must have done otherwise the second tuner probably wouldn't work at all...

Just ignore me on this post! :blink:

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