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Digital Television Recording with Top Up TV Anytime 

The demise of VHS video tape has left a big hole in convenient TV recording not filled by the promise of DVD. This Thomson box from Top Up TV offers a rich set of features at an unbeatable price.
TopUp TV Digital Television Recorder

Hard disk recorders have been around for a little while - most famously pioneered by Tivio and then, in the UK, by the Sky+ box. Great if you're a Sky subscriber. With the advent of FreeView based Digital Television Recorders (DTR) this facility is available to the masses without the expense or restrictions of a subscription-only services.

Top Up TV have launched their own product in this space - the "Top Up TV+ DTR" - not quite as catchy as "sky+" - but don't let that put you off. The hardware is from Thomson - the 'DTI6300-16'.

This DTR offers an impressive feature set - including two independent tuners and a 160Gbyte hard disk onto which programmes can be recorded. The two tuners allow you to record one channel while watching another - or to record two channels at the same time. 160G is sufficient for storing around 100 hours of television - enough to keep even the most ardent TV addict satisfied!

Over and above the functions of a traditional video recorder, hard disk systems integrated with digital TV offer a wealth of additional functions that, once used, you'll wonder how you lived without. 'Pause Live TV' is an oft quoted example. At the press of the button literally freeze the action on a live TV show. No fumbling around looking for a spare tape - rewinding the tape or other time wasting exercises. Ideal for when that unexpected guest turns up right in the middle of the latest episode of Lost, or the phone rings with a vital double glazing sales offer you can't resist. You don't have to wait for the end of the programme to start watching. One of my favourite uses of this feature is to pause the first 10 minutes of a show and then fast forward through the adverts!

Digital TV also benefits from integration with a live programme guide - EPG (Electronic Programme Guide). There have been countless attempts to make it easier to correctly record programmes from bar-codes to special numbers printed in the papers. All obsolete now with EPG - the DTR knows the channel you're watching and automagically stops recording at the end of the show. Timed programming is also simplified by selecting the programme you want to record from the guide. No coming home to watch the latest Big Brother only to find that you've recorded an hour of cricket because you got the channel wrong. And finally you can even decide to record an entire series with one instruction - never miss an episode of Dr Who again!

This kind of operation has been dubbed 'time-shifting' - using DTRs to choose when to watch a programme rather than have that dictated by the broadcaster. In a recent survey conducted by Top Up TV, 57% of their DTR customers said that they regularly used the time-shift feature to watch their programmes at a time convenient to them.

I've been using this product for a little while now with only minor hiccups, most of them non-serious. One of the most annoying 'niggles' concerns video rewind which often results in a click of the 'rewind' button sending you all the way back to the start of the programme rather than simply reversing play. I've checked with the Top Up people and this is a known issue and a fix is currently being tested (more in a moment). The user interface needs a little polishing, mainly in user feedback. It can often be unclear whether the action you've taken on the remote has been received.

The most serious problem concerned on a couple of occasions when the device locked up, requiring power to be removed. On one occasion this coincided with rewinding a video and so it is quite possibly part of the problem mentioned above.

Software Upgrade

I indicated the problems above to be 'minor' - even the odd lock up - why? Because of the excellent and transparent software upgrade service provided by the Top Up TV people. This happens over night in the same way as programme downloads - over the air. You don't have to do anything and you don't loose any content. In the few weeks I've been using the DTR the software has been upgraded twice resulting in more reliable software and an improvement in the user interface. While one can argue that products should be completely tested before being shipped - this is mitigated in cases such as this where there is a reliable post-ship software upgrade feature.

In my smiley rating I had to take into account the product as I reviewed it and so the niggles I experienced reflected in ease of use - without those ease-of-use would have been at least a 4. Given the downloads so far though I'm pretty confident that the engineers are serious about fixing bugs - and if I still have the product here after the next software upgrade I'll come back and comment on the changes!

TV Anytime service

Most people in the UK now have at least heard of digital TV, and of Freeview as the natural heir to traditional analogue TV. Freeview is received through your existing, standard TV aerial, and once you've bought suitable hardware is free to use - just like terrestrial TV. You do get a lot more channels, including all your existing favourites.

The technology behind Freeview also offers the opportunity to deliver additional 'paid for' services. TV Anytime is just one such service and it works in conjunction with the DTR+ box. The system works by using the recording capabilities of the DTR+ box to 'download' a number of programmes to the internal hard-disk over night. Up to around 150 programmes will be automatically downloaded ready for you to browse and watch at your leisure.

Programmes are downloaded from a number of specific channels including the likes of uktv-gold, Paramount Comedy, Disney and British Eurosport. A set up menu allows you to remove channels that do not interest you.

TV Anytime is activated through a special 'feature' card that slots into the front of the receiver. The basic price of that service is £9.99 per month for the basic service, and there are some premium channels such as Setanta for sports that attract an additional charge.

The downloaded programmes are valid for 7 days from when they are recorded, after which they are automatically deleted to make way for more downloads. If there is a programme in the list though that you want to keep for longer you can simply save that to the user area and you have as much time as you want.

I don't watch a lot of TV, however I found it really good that when I wanted to watch something and the usual channels were devoid of anything interesting I could usually find something interesting in the downloaded library.

Summary

At around £85, ignoring TV Anytime, you have an excellent DTR capable of storing over 100 hours of programming, recording two channels simultaneously and in the process probably avoiding a few arguments over Christmas! For those of you that want more variation the option of Top Up TV Anytime to augment your own library is an excellent idea and worked very well.

The best price I found for the Top Up DTR+ is from Amazon at £85 including shipping and a 30 free trial for TopUp Anytime. It's also available from John Lewis for £99.95 with a 2 year gaurantee.

More information can be found on Top Up TVs website :

http://www.topuptv.com

 

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What's your experience of this product? Agree or disagree, or just have a question? Use the box below and let everyone know.

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Rating:

Comment by Rose Norman, Jan 1, 2012 13:13

my digie is not displaying programs so i cannot record
Rating:

Comment by id-dis, Nov 26, 2011 13:32

you can use the svhs and rca audio output to connect to many usb video editing boxes. some of these are less than £30 these days and this would allow you to capture the thomson playback in real time. I once tried removeing the HDD from the thomson to try drag n drop the files but the format is unlnown to a PC
Rating:

Comment by CRPKENT, June 30, 2011 12:22

... I should have added that I have a Panasonic DVD Player/Recorder linked to my TV so when I play back my Thomson recording I can record it to a blank re-useable DVD at the same time.

COLIN
Rating:

Comment by CRPKENT, June 30, 2011 11:39

I don't think you can directly connect your Thomson Box to a PC ? ... I did it by converting what I had recorded to a DVD which I then copied to my PC.

Best of Luck,
COLIN
Rating:

Comment by Ash, June 30, 2011 10:50

Hi I have a Thomson tutv digital recorder. I want to download a recording onto my laptop. Can anyone help me with this please? Can't seem to get the laptop to pick the box up. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks.
Rating:

Comment by Carol, Mar 25, 2011 18:22

Thanks. I tried this several times. Eventually the box was taken to an engineer who took it apart and found the hard drive had died. He advised it was not worth repairing, so I have now binned it and bought a Humax, which everyone informs me is a much better box.
Rating:

Comment by clemenzina, Mar 25, 2011 13:22

Digital Spy has a dedicated Thomson forum where you are more likely to find fellow users and techies.  In the meantime, have you done a "hard reboot", ie, disconnect from the power source by pulling the plug, leave for a minute and plug in again?  It might reset itself, but there may have been damage from the power failure :(

http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=123
Rating:

Comment by Carol, Mar 20, 2011 15:03

Can anyone please help with a Thomson DTI6300 box problem ? We had a short power cut, and now the box is not showing any lights at all although it is ticking/clicking inside so I know the power is getting to it. I have tried holding in the standby button for up to 30 seconds, switching it off and on, and still not a light. Once the light(s) do appear, I am familiar with how to reset it, I just need help getting any light on in the first place.
Thank you
Rating:

Comment by Nick ward, Mar 14, 2011 20:37

Can any1 help. Just got my tv recorder set up but it wont give me a guide. Just blank
Rating:

Comment by CRPKENT, Nov 28, 2010 10:16

Sarah1704

In case my previous comments are not very clear :-

1) Turn off the Box (press Top Right Hand button on Remote Control)
2) Dis-engage from mains (unplug device)
3) Wait 20 seconds
4) Re-engage mains (plug in device)
5) Wait until button goes dark red (about 15 secs)
6) Turn on the Box (press Top Right Hand button on Remote Control)

Regards,
COLIN
Rating:

Comment by CRPKENT, Nov 28, 2010 9:56

I have problems with this Box at least twice a week ... just Power Off, wait 20 secs and then Power On.

Regards,
COLIN
Rating:

Comment by sarah1704, Nov 27, 2010 19:56

i have an orange/red flashing light on my freeview box can anyone help please. its a thomson DTI6300
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Comment by christinetay, Nov 26, 2010 8:36

Hi PencilDick - just seen your post about reset.  I used the 1, 3, 7 and 9 sequence but see your are advising 1, 3, 9 and 7.  The first worked for me.
Rating:

Comment by christinetay, Nov 26, 2010 8:29

Our Thomson box wiped off all our recordings and wouldn't record.  Followed the instruction from PencilDick 6 Jan 2010 and hey presto it is now working fine again.  I have an old Thomson box in the cupboard with the same problem so will see if the reset option fixes that too.  Thanks PencilDick great advice from you.
Rating:

Comment by Lickettysplit, Nov 1, 2010 16:34

Topuptvs website has an excellent online help feature, I had similar problems
I followed their instructions accessed the hidden menu after i forced an update of one feature as advised, I re scanned the channels the EPG became blanked then renewed itself overnite.

I now have a fully funtioning box no loss of recorded programs and all my planned recordings are also still in place.

I find the box to be noisy it causes a loud buz on my telly when viewing the EPG it is also very misleading to include a USB which does nothing, no upscaling, no hdmi but other than that, at only £104 from Asdas in late 2009 it's stil a relative bargain.
Rating:

Comment by Rosemary Pooley, Aug 10, 2010 22:20

last week when I turned on my Thomson box it decided to reboot itself. Once done I found that my library had been emptied and now it will not record anything that I put in for recording. The red recording light will come on but nothing is being recorde. The box will leave the message that recording failed and will reassign a recording time but again nothing happens. Also when I hold the recording button for 3 secs as it says in the manual for instant record it doesn't work. has anyone else had these problems or does anyone know how to resolve it
Rating:

Comment by PencilDick, Jan 22, 2010 23:29

Sorry to reset your box press 1,3,9 and then 7
Rating:

Comment by BobBeer, Jan 22, 2010 10:43

Does anyone have any experience of removing the recordings from the internal hard drive, I've smashed the piece of C**P to pieces as when we try and watch anything recorded on the box nothing happens it now stops all the time and takes 4-5 attempts to get it working again and is no longer recording, so before I do the Lose it all reset I want to try andd get the data off
Rating:

Comment by PencilDick, Jan 6, 2010 22:05

To reset your Thomson box press Menu.Setup.Help and then on your control press 1,3,7 and 9 to open up the engineering menu, Then press the green button and you will reset your box, All previous recordings will be lost though, Cheers
Rating:

Comment by stevehan, Nov 29, 2009 17:49

Found this website ,quite helpful so have reformatted the hard drive and now works.Watch this space.Series option not available, u=is there a fix ??http://www.topuptv.com/help+centre/setup+and+troubleshooting/Fail+boot+up#Hard+Drive+Space

Steve
Rating:

Comment by stevehan, Nov 29, 2009 16:02

got Thomson DTI 6300-16 -- has topeed recording -- keeps coming up in messages unable to record #261 .  Recording light stays on also.Have tried powering down, rescanning.Also lost all the recodings in library.Any ideas, reset, thoughts ??
Rating:

Comment by jessica1, Nov 27, 2009 10:10

Can anyone tell me if they experience blank time slots on the programme guide on their DTI6300? Sometimes the guide does not indicate what programme is on even up to the time that the newspaper listings says it should. This then stops you being able to record that particular programme!!
Rating:

Comment by joanne, Sep 4, 2009 15:57

I have now had 3 of these goodmans digi boxes the last one having kept going for more than a year with no problems was a record. Alas this one also died and the amber light would not go to red, let alone green. I googled this problem ad found this site and just for fun tried to reset the box (this has not worked before ad I was not oo hopeful having tried pressing buttons and nearly hitting it!) I unplugged it waited and plugged it back in whilst holding the on button on the front panel the amber light came on ad I immediatley pressed the remaining buttons right to left(not menu or ok)repeated 3 times then pressed menu  then ok on the front panel and wahoooo!! All working and I have not lost anything in my library. Thank you so much!!!
Rating:

Comment by eddieriff, June 15, 2009 23:48

Unfortunately pj, not everyone is listening.
Rating:

Comment by pjbonner, June 15, 2009 23:10

Hey!eddieriff glad to see you're still trying to convince people not to buy this piece of pooh.As most of us found out to our cost many months ago.Good-on-yer!
Rating:

Comment by eddieriff, June 15, 2009 22:04

Take it back, NOW!
Rating:

Comment by Susanj, June 15, 2009 20:45

Hi My Thomson Box stopped working on the 4th May too, however there are no lights on the box at all. A few weeks before this it stopped downloading Picture Box and any Top UpTV downloads. When it packed up we purchased a new box from Argos. And although my husband went to bin it I stopped him and shoved it in the cupboard. I phoned TopUP TV to register my new box, but since then I have received no downloads at all. I keep phoning TUTV trying to rectify the problem but still nothing. This is 5 weeks now, (8 counting the old box ) they have offered to exchange my box ( which is out of guarantee) and I am letting them have my old box back (glad I stopped hubby binning it) But I cant understand why the new box wont download, it records ok, sometimes a bit erratic ie put it on manually to record an hour and it records for an hour and a half but comes up as 2 min........ Aghhhhhh is it me. Thinking of taking new box back to Argos as faulty. Any ideas
Rating:

Comment by adie-cook, May 26, 2009 13:17

Hi to all the people experiancing technical issues with their Thompson top up tv boxes.
I have gone through 3 of these totally useless boxes now and have had them same fault with all of them namely that the picture will freeze even when your just watching the tv. I have contact Consumer direct to find out what rights/legal actions i have and can take against top up tv in aid to obtain a refund from them. I have below written their reply and i quote:

"based on the information you have provided,under the supply of goods and services act 1982/common law scotland. This provides that work should be carried out with reasonable care and skill and goods supplied as part of this service should be of satisfactory quality. If they fail to provide this, you can hold the trader in breach of contract and seek to claim for any consiquential losses resulting in the breach of contract". They have advised me to write a formall letter to top up tv outlining your complaint and that "their attempts to replace the box have clearly failed and request that they provide a refund" you should also inform them that you want a reply from them in this matter within 7 working days. Consumer direct also state that "it is adviseable to ask for a reasonable outcome,as if you are unable to resolve this matter with the trader then ultimatly it will up to a judge to decide in court". They also have given me the following information if you have purchased your box on a credit card "in addition because you have purchased your box on your credit card you may also be able to argue under section 75 of the consumer credit act 1974 which will make your credit card company equally liable under the supplu of goods and services act for this reason you may wish to inform the credit company of this problem in case you need to recover the purchase price from them at any stage".
I have taken their advice and done just what they have said above i just need to await their response, i do know however that numerous other people have done just this and are now getting a refund. It is time that top up tv stand up and be counted for providing a utterly useless service and stop giving people shoddy equipment as they STILL are. I would advise that anyone and everyone who is fed up with the problems they are or have been having to do this as well so then they will have to admit that there is a problem. I have the contact details for consumer direct and also for the top up tv head office if anyone would like them let me know.
Rating:

Comment by cazzasguy, May 17, 2009 9:01

Hi Sophie,

You'll just have to keep trying I'm afraid, the buttons have to be pressed within a very short timescale and if you're more than about half a second out, the 'trick' won't work. Make sure you keep the power cable out for 60 seconds between attempts and you're pressing the standby button before inserting it. Watch for a light to flicker on the front panel then instantly release standby and press menu followed by ok as quickly as you can. Take care not to inadvertently press them together, it's easy to do as they're so small and the plastic is of fairly poor quality. I was only successful after half a dozen attempts, and a work colleague had to make over 20!!
Rating:

Comment by Sophie, May 16, 2009 21:49

Hey, please can somebody help me? My box is stuck in standby and iv tried the sequence of button several times with no luck. I dont know what to do to fix it?
Anyone please help, thank you
Sophie

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