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Reviews placed here are based on our experiences with the units described. Faults & advantages of the various models are listed as we have encountered them.

THOMSON DTR6000AU

While this model has been out a short while, we haven't had a great deal to do with these up until very recently & Thomson have done pretty well with it, bar the documentation, which is a bit on the sparse side in some areas.

A more conventional looking set top box than the DTI500AU, this model is more in-line with current larger set top boxes such as the Teac, or perhaps a slightly more slimline sized case than the venerable DTI352TH. The DTR6000AU contains a hard drive of 40GB capacity, giving some 25 hours of recording time.

As mentioned above, the documentation is quite good in places such as setup, but missing some things completely. In particular, there's not a great mention of the features & usage of the recording facilities & it took a couple of minutes to locate how to delete something that had been recorded & stored on the drive. This is one area that Thomson do need to look into, as a lot of people would be hard-pressed to figure out something that's not in the book, or not covered in any great detail. Fortunately, once you get the hang of the menu system, it's a pretty easy box to get going with quickly.

Installation & setup is pretty rapid, not quite as fast as the DTI500AU, but about on par with the Nextwave TDR3100, which is perfectly acceptable. There are composite & 2 SCART connections on the back, along with a digital coaxial plug for connection to a home theatre system or similar.

Signal hold looks quite solid & our normal 'tap' test doesn't reveal any artefacts or pixellation appearing. The picture quality is roughly around the same as the DTI500AU, but the menu system is quite different to look at, but very similar in terms of use.

One thing that some people may find hard to get used to is that it's actually not too hard to fill the drive up & for that, you'll need some sort of backup if you have stuff that's been recorded that you want to keep, whether it be a VCR (which of course will lose you some picture quality), or maybe a DVD recorder. We're still a bit out to lunch on the PVR situation as yet - a good idea, but perhaps it's still early days & certainly things like freeze frames are vastly superior to a VCR. Certainly the picture quality on the recorded items is good, so maybe the next evolution in the technology will include some sort of permanent recording device.

During recording, it is possible to move between services on a particular channel, such as recording on ABC, then switching to another ABC services such as DIG radio, but it isn't possible to move to another channel altogether. This is probably something that will be included in future models no doubt, similar the new Topfield unit.

The Verdict: While not a model that's overflowing with new features, the DTR6000AU is a fairly solid Set Top Box that's certainly following on in the Thomson mould of good quality units. The channel changing is slightly slower than with the DTI500AU, which may annoy newcomers to digital TV, but old hands won't be phased. Probably the biggest negative is the seemingly incomplete documentation that needs some work to bring it up to standard & include more in-depth information on the incorporated features. A larger storage drive would be a bonus, but for most people, this will be enough & they will most likely then offload the recorded programs they want to keep to another storage device. Rounding out, this model does well to keep hard drive wear to a minimum, by spinning down after a few minutes of inactivity, spinning back up as required. Quite a solid performer this one - let's hope it lives up to the old DTI352TH in terms of reliability.

IT & AV Services rating - 89%

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