Topfield TF5800PVR

A few weeks ago I took the plunge and purchased a 250Gb Topfield PVR. I already have SKY+, but I wanted a Topfield for the following reasons:

  • At some point in the next six months, I’m going to switch to SKY HD, but I want to empty my 160Gb SKY+ box before I make the switch. An extra PVR with a large disk will make it easy to manage the switchover. I’m recording everything new on the Topfield, whilst I’m mostly watching the programmes I’ve already got on my SKY+ box
  • When I switch to SKY HD, it does appear that the HD recordings use a lot of disk space, so the standard SKY HD disk would be too small for both my HD and SD recordings, and I don’t want to void the warranty straight away by replacing the disk
  • The Topfield allows you to extract its recordings off its hard disk over USB. They can then be edited and burned to DVD on a computer. This should be easier and produce better picture quality than recording on a DVD recorder via a SCART cable
  • The Topfield is massively customisable using add on programmes called TAPs. For a geek like me, this is hugely appealing

Having lived with Topfield for a few weeks, here are my initial impressions. First the negative points:

  • It’s a bit loud. I’ve gotten used to it, and using the HDD Info TAP to turn the hard disk acoustic management on helped, but it could still be better
  • The remote is not the best – the buttons are a little too small, and the IR beam needs to have a good line of sight
  • The default software is pretty basic
  • It takes a while to start up from standby – 10 to 15 seconds or so
  • There are quite a few quirks to get used to. No showstoppers, but it’s not a product that I’d expect non technical users to get the most out of

Positive points:

  • TAPS such as HDD Info, eit2mei, and especially MyStuff transform the Topfield. If only SKY+ was as customisable…
  • There’s a fantastic support site at
  • I’ve extracted programmes off the Topfield onto my Mac mini over a USB cable, and the quality when played through VLC is very impressive

Overall, I’m very happy with my Topfield. If you’re willing to spend some time customising it with downloaded TAPs, it’s probably the best Freeview PVR available (I’ve used a DigiFusion FVRT200 and Humax PVR-9200T in the past, by way of comparison).

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