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Freeview+ HD recorders: Pure Avalon 300R Connect packs WiFi and streaming music

What’s new in Freeview+ HD recorders?

Pure Avalon 300R Connect screenDigital radio specialist Pure has launched a high-end Freeview+ HD recorder with built-in WiFi, picture-in-picture and four-port HDMI loopthrough: the Avalon 300R Connect.

Unlike most Freeview boxes, it’s based on a top spec Intel CE4150 chipset, which powers an animated HD user interface, and can even animate your channel changes like with film-like fade effects.

WiFi is built into the Avalon 300R Connect, with a high-performance 2×2 MIMO 802.11n antenna that can achieve more than 100Mbps for HD video streaming, plus an Ethernet port.

There are two USB ports, and a unique four-port HDMI loopthrough so games consoles and laptops can reach your TV through a single HDMI connection.

It’s also got live picture-in-picture preview of a second channel while you’re browsing the programme guide, BBC iPlayer and YouTube, and the Pure Connect internet radio and on-demand audio service.

The Avalon 300R Connect comes in two flavours of storage: 500GB for £299, or 1TB for £349.

September 21, 2012

Pure Avalon 300R Connect

View21 is an internet-ready Freeview+ HD recorder that’s trying to bridge the gap between standalone digital boxes and smart home media servers.

It can be controlled with your phone and can stream video from the hard disc to your phone or tablet, with 320GB (£175) and 500GB (£250).

It comes with BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter apps, with more planned for the future – more details on View21 here.

July 20, 2012

What is a Freeview+ HD recorder?

Freeview+ and Freeview HD are the standards for digital TV recorders and high definition TV on Freeview, and like Japanese fighting robots they combine in the all-defeating Freeview+ HD standard.

This means that all Freeview+ HD boxes are guaranteed to have the same standard functions and abilities, and they’ve gone through strict testing to make sure they meet the specification and the software is reliable.

What is Freeview+?

Freeview+ is the hardware and software specification for digital TV recorders on Freeview.

The core of the specification is a twin-tuner recorder with a hard disc drive, which can record one channel while you watch another, or two channels while you watch a recording.

Live TV must be cached in a section of the hard drive so you can pause and rewind for at least 30 minutes, with fast-forward and rewind.

Users must be able lock recordings against deletion and provide automatic hard disc management.

There’s also an eight-day programme guide with one-button record from the remote control. Users must be offered series links and programmes split by breaks such as a news bulletin should be recorded as a single event.

If there’s a related programme – such as Doctor Who Confidential for Doctor Who – these should be offered, and if there’s an alternative showing time that should be offered when there’s a conflict with existing recordings.

The box should also be able to update recording times if the schedules change, both while it’s in standby or as the programme is being broadcast.

Freeview+ HD also activates the green button in trailers as a way to set up recordings – if you see the green button on screen in a trailer, you can press it to set up a single or series recording.

What is Freeview HD?

Freeview HD, as you might guess, is the standard for high definition Freeview receivers and recorders.

As well as being able to receive the HD channels broadcast on Freeview, the standard also includes support for TV and other services delivered using a broadband connection, such as the BBC iPlayer.

The basic spec for Freeview HD includes an HDMI output, S/PDIF digital audio output, and Ethernet port.

For the techies, there’s a broadcasting standard, called DVB-T2, and a video compression standard, called MPEG-4. These enable broadcasters to squeeze five HD channels into the same space as 10 standard-definition channels, although there’s four times the detail in an HD signal.

The MPEG-4 variation is AVC High Profile Level 4, which supports up to 1080i30/1080p30 (although Europe operates on 50Hz multiples, so you’re more likely to see 1080p/25 if it’s broadcast).

Broadcasters can use AAC and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround audio, but receivers must be capable of transcoding this to Dolby Digital, DTS or PCM.

There is no copy-protection on the Freeview HD video signals, but the EPG data for Freeview HD is encoded so that it can only be understood by Freeview HD receivers.