Maplin Barebone Twin Tuner Freeview DTR - Review

Maplin Barebone Twin Tuner Freeview DTR - Review

Digital TV? Do it yourself

Pros: Noisy when in use. Not good value.

Cons: Good EPG. Two tuners

Bottomline: Annoyingly noisy and not very cheap

Price: £60

Although some people enjoy the challenge of sloshing paint around and wrangling with tiles, the attraction of DIY for most is that it can cost less than hiring a professional.

Similarly, those with a lot of technical know-how sometimes like to build their own computers, as doing so can be much cheaper than buying a complete system.

The same people might be tempted by Maplin’s latest product: a hard disk Freeview recorder that buyers must put together themselves.

The recorder costs just £60, but in order to use it you’ll also need to buy a hard disk to go inside. It uses 3.5in hard disks, the kind found in most desktop computers. Confusingly, though, there are two kinds of hard disk: IDE and Serial ATA. This recorder only works with the older IDE type but the good news is that these are cheap: a 160GB disk costs around £35.

Fitting this disk inside the recorder was impressively easy: there’s a hatch on the bottom of the device, and after fixing the disk into place with the provided screws it was as simple as plugging in two cables. After screwing the hatch back into place, the recorder is ready to use.

Unfortunately, this was where our troubles started. After turning on the recorder we were surprised to hear the hard disk inside starting to spin – we assumed this would stop momentarily, but instead it kept going. And here’s the problem: most desktop hard disks are noisy. Inside a PC case the sound is usually muffled, but this recorder’s thin case does little to block the constant whining sound.

This is a shame, as the recorder itself works reasonably well: there’s an electronic programme guide (EPG) to schedule recordings and select programmes to watch, and with two tuners it’s possible to watch one show while recording another. Ultimately, though, the biggest problem with this device is that it’s not particularly good value.

When a ready-made Top Up TV 160GB recorder can be picked up for about £100, there’s just no reason to build one yourself.