Self Help Topics
 
Technical Solutions Made Easy

Home PVR reviews Topfield TF5800 PVR review

Topfield TF5800 PVR Review

Review of Topfield TF-5800 PVR

This review compares the Topfield TF5800 PVR to it's closest competitor, the Humax PVR 9200T comparing technical specification, functionality, ease of use and ownership.

It's clear from the outset that the Topfield digital video recorder is a superb AV peripheral which will appeal to gadget lovers and technologists alike.

Unlike the competition, the Topfield TF5800 is highly customisable by means of Toppy TAP software API applications. Many Topfield TAPs are available for customisation of different functions.

 

Topfield PVR TF5800 Review Conclusion

Overall Rating : Topfield TF5800 PVR
< Worse 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Better >
Topfield TF5800 Reviews - Pros

The Toppy PVR offers the Flexibility to record two channels simultaneously, whilst viewing another two on the same Freeview DVB-T multiplexes via Scart and RF. Convenient web control and SMS programming via the Toppy Remote Control Service. Add extra features for free with TAP applications to gain additional functionality.

Read more on Toppy TF5800 PVR specification versus the Humax PVR9200T here.

Topfield TF5800 Reviews - Cons

The Toppy PVR is large and has average DVB-T tuner sensitivity plus cumbersome twin tuner and UHF modulator rear panel wiring. Not cheap either, at around 50 more expensive to buy than the Humax PVR 9200T.

Cheap Deals

You can buy a cheap Topfield PVR TF5810 digital video recorder from Amazon (if still available), with the 500GB model Toppy PVR currently priced at just 299.

Technical Reviews

If you're looking for a VCR replacement then the twin tuner Topfield PVR TF-5800 digital video recorder really delivers. It offers more functionality than the rival Humax PVR9200T, through user developed TAP software add-ons which allow PC savvy owners to add advanced and highly useful functionality.

Recording Capabilities

Firstly, it's important to note that a twin tuner Freeview PVR like the Topfield TF5800 PVR will only record Freeview digital TV broadcasts (DVB-T), it cannot be used to record Sky TV programmes via the Scart socket. To record subscription Sky TV channels then you'll need a Sky+ box.

Additional Flexibility

Multi function record / playback modes - The Toppy PVR TF-5800 digital video recorder offers the flexibility to watch and record a combination of up to four different Freeview DVB-T channels at the same time. Two different programmes (comprising live transmissions and hard disk recordings) can also be watched simultaneously via the UHF modulator RF outputs and the Scart socket. Alternatively, two Freeview channels can be recorded simultaneously, whilst two different channels on the same UHF DVB-T multiplexes (as those being recorded) are watched via Scart or RF modulator.

Large recording capacity - The Topfield PVR TF-5800 supports up to 136 hours of recording time via a super quiet Samsung 250GB hard disk. There's no cooling fan in the Toppy either, so it offers near silent operation aside from occasional and very slight disk access noise.

Enhanced time shifted functions - Toppy's PVR supports pause live TV functionality, with rewind, fast forward and slow motion advance. Usefully, it also allows you to record sections of time shifted programmes to save them to the hard disk - a feature not supported by the Humax PVR 9200T.

Toppy TAP Software Applications

Topfield TF5800 PVR - front panel

As with all user developed software, Toppy TAP applications are not without their bugs but as a fail safe measure Topfield allow the TF-5800 PVR to be started without starting the TAP programmes by booting the system whilst pressing the zero key on the remote control.

Popular Toppy TAP software programs for the Topfield TF-5800 include:-

  • A unique feature is the popular Topfield Remote Control Service which allows SMS programming of timers via a mobile phone and PVR control from the web
  • Jag's EPG. An enhanced (improved) EPG for the Toppy PVR.
  • A Media Manager for JPEG pictures, MP3 music and recorded video files
  • Quickjump - a TAP to skip adverts using the colour coded remote keys
  • Signal Monitor - Monitor the signal strength and quality of up to 6 DVB-T multiplexes simultaneously from the twin tuners with this TAP
  • Toppy recording buffering TAP to buffer recording start and end times

Ease of Use

When carrying out the Toppy PVR TF5800 review, I initially couldn't find how to access the recording list from the handset. After referring to the Topfield TF-5800 user manual, you soon get the impression that the Toppy PVR is aimed more at the AV enthusiast market rather than at a more general audience. After all, many people struggle even to operate their VCR - a considerably simpler-to-use product than the Toppy digital video recorder!

In short, this kind of feature rich PVR is not for the feint hearted technophobe! That said, it's fairly easy to use after a few initial hurdles are overcome.

Topfield PVR TF5800 Functionality

A summary of Topfield PVR TF-5800 functionality is provided below:

  • Up to 2000 digital TV channels can be stored (only around 35 Freeview channels are currently transmitted in the UK)
  • MPEG2 and DVB-T standard compliant design
  • Quiet running 160GB or 250GB hard disk provides 136 hours of continuous MPEG2 digital video recording time
  • Up to 70 timer events with Daily / Weekly / Weekend / 5 Day timer recording functions
  • Colour on-screen programming and user interface
  • Two Common PCMCIA Interfaces (CI) for 2 future proof Top Up TV compatible CAM's (Conditional Access Modules)
  • TV Scart socket supports RGB, CVBS, S-Video and Component Video signals
  • VCR Socket for DVD player or legacy VCR. Transfer Toppy PVR recordings onto VCR (video tape) via this interface
  • Two separate tuners allow dual antenna operation (to receive two different ITV regions) or single antenna working
  • UHF Modulator, tuneable Ch21 to Ch69. Connection is via rear panel coaxial patch leads if required
  • Recording editing and split / rename recording file functions. Also edit out adverts from previous recording/s
  • Pause live TV with time shifted playback (with rewind, fast forward, slow motion, skip functions)
  • Picture in Picture to view 2 programmes simultaneously
  • Record 2 DVB-T Freeview channels simultaneously (overlapping programmes) whilst watching another if its on the same DVB-T multiplex channel
  • USB and RS232 PC connections for uploading TAP software applications and downloading video recording files
  • Support for 4:3, 16:9 and 14:9 letter box TV aspect ratios
  • 30 favourite channel lists under 4 categories / genres
  • 7 day EPG support
  • MPEG 1, 2 and 3 sound decoding with MP3 Jukebox capability (upload MP3's via the USB interface)
  • Playback a recording from the hard drive, whilst recording another Freeview programme
  • Bookmark facility to find sections within previous recordings
  • Support for Euro MHEG interactive services, digital teletext
  • Analogue phone and Dolby AC-3 digital compatible audio outputs
  • Separate S-Video socket
  • Record Freeview digital radio channels
  • Available in black, silver or white
  • Topfield PVR TF5800 - Dimensions 340 x 265 x 60 (W, D, H)

Build Quality Review

The TF5800 like other Topfield PVR products is very well built, even if the design does look slightly dated with it's large green front panel display.

Ease of Installation

The Toppy is easy to install with automatic installation and tuning of all available Freeview DVB-T channels. Manual channel installation is also provided.

Tuner Sensitivity

The Humax PVR 9200T digital video recorder was a 'best buy' for tuner sensitivity. Sadly, the Topfield TF-5800 PVR was noticeably less sensitive when tested in weak Freeview signal areas. Whilst the Humax PVR 9200T worked down to around a 35dBuV DVB-T aerial signal, the Toppy needed around 40dBuV to give good reception. In poor Freeview coverage areas, this could make the difference between getting a picture and getting nothing. We recommend that you buy the Huimax PVR 9200T if your live in a poor signal area for Freeview.

Picture Quality

Picture quality on the Topfield PVR TF5800 is excellent as you would expect, given its status as a recommended, best buy twin tuner Freeview digital video recorder (PVR).

Converting MPEG2 Files to DVD

Corel Software offer ULEAD DVD Factory Version 6 Plus which provides MPEG2 to DVD authoring functionality, although you'll need a PC with lots of memory (1GB of RAM or more) to process large files. It's best to re-synchronise the MPEG2 files first using VideoRedo before DVD authoring.

Review Conclusions

The Topfield TF-5800 PVR leads the field in terms of both flexibility and functionality, beating the Humax PVR 9200T in this review as the product of choice.

The ability to control the Toppy PVR via the web and SMS, together with the availability of TAP software applications make this an awesome product.

The Topfield TF5800 is only really let down by the awkward array of rear panel RF sockets for the UHF modulator and twin tuners. Worryingly, the PVR user manual makes reference to some UHF loop through signal loss caused by daisy chaining the twin tuners and modulator. It recommends using two antennas if the it becomes a problem. To be honest, the need for coaxial patch leads is cumbersome and RF wise it's not ideal, contributing to the PVR's average results in the Freeview reception test.

Disclaimer

This technical review of the Topfield TF-5800 PVR is provided in good faith and is accurate to the best of our ability. No guarantees regarding accuracy of reviews is provided.

Technical support