A hard drive (HDD) recorder can be a useful piece of equipment to own especially if there is a requirement to record a regular amount of TV programmes as it takes away the need to record onto either a DVD or a VHS tape. The hard drive recorder holds information in a similar way to a computer, retaining data on a hard drive and some recorders have the capacity to hold many hours of recordings. A variety of hard drive recorders can be found listed on eBay and there are several features that should be given careful consideration before deciding which type to purchase.
A hard drive recorder will normally contain a digital TV tuner. This information should be included on the listing information on eBay. The tuner could be either Freeview or Freesat. Both types of tuner have some advantages.
A Freeview tuner provides access to over 50 different channels through an aerial. There are no additional costs involved and no subscription package.
A Freesat tuner gives the user access to over 140 different channels. A subscription package is not needed but the tuner does require a satellite dish in order to work. A freesat tuner will also offer free access to various HD services.
It is worth considering looking for a hard drive recorder which has twin tuners built into it. This means that the recorder will give the user much more flexibility about recording programmes and watching them. It would be possible to record one programme while watching another programme on a different channel. It would even be possible to record two programmes on different channels at the same time while watching a third programme that was already recorded and stored on the hard drive of the recorder.
Size of the Hard Drive
Programmes that have been recorded are stored on the hard drive of the recorder, meaning the size of the hard drive will determine how many programmes can be stored at any one time. Any programmes that need to be kept for a long time will need to be placed on a DVD. It is worth thinking about the number of programmes that the hard drive recorder may need to record in an average week and how long they would need to be kept before they could be watched. This should give some idea of the size of hard drive that might be required. Check with the eBay seller, as they may be able to help with this if they can give some indication of their usage of the hard drive recorder and how many programmes they were able to store. Alternatively look for the largest size of hard drive that is available and err on the side of caution. It should be remembered that programmes which are recorded in high definition will take up more space on the hard drive than standard recordings. A hard drive capacity of 500GB will allow 100 hours of HD recordings to be stored but will allow about 250 hours of standard recordings.
Some models of hard drive recorders may offer an additional feature for playing back a recorded programme. This means that it could be possible to watch the start of a programme while the rest of it is still being recorded. This would be particularly useful if a programme was recording because it was going to be missed but plans changed and it could be watched after all. It saves having to wait to watch the programme until the end when it has completely finished recording.
Pausing and Forwarding
Although the majority of hard drive recorders will have this facility, it is worth asking the seller to confirm that playback can be paused if necessary. The hard drive recorder should also allow the user to fast forward the recording if required which would enable the user to avoid having to watch ad breaks.
A hard drive recorder can also be used to record videos from a camcorder onto the hard drive if required. The hard drive recorder must have an AV input port for this to be possible.
A good hard drive recorder will have a very comprehensive programme guide that is easy to understand. If the listing on eBay does not include this information, then the seller should be able to confirm how many channels the guide can list on the screen at one time. A good programme guide should be able to show the listings for about eight channels at the same time. The guide should also be able to provide a short summary of each programme when it is clicked. It is best to avoid hard drive recorders where the programme guide can only display one channel at a time as this can make it more difficult to plan recordings in advance.
The timings of TV programmes can change occasionally particularly in the case of sporting events which can over run. A good hard drive recorder will be able to recognise when this happens and adjust its recording times accordingly so that a programme is not missed. Check this with the seller if they have not mentioned it as a feature of the hard drive recorder as it is very useful.
Some hard drive recorders may also have Internet access. This can be useful if it will be necessary to watch BBC iPlayer and other catch up facilities. This is not an essential feature otherwise and may increase the price of the recorder.
Programming Through Trailers
Some models of hard drive recorders offer the facility to set a programme to record if the trailer for it appears on TV. This may be useful, but again is not an essential feature to have.
A hard drive recorder can be a useful device as it enables TV programmes to be recorded and stored. Buying a recorder from eBay means that it is not possible to inspect it before purchase, but knowing which features are essential beforehand can make the purchase easier. A hard drive recorder which has twin tuners, a large hard drive capacity, a comprehensive and detailed programme guide, advanced playback features and the ability to pause and to forward through recordings should be sufficient to meet most needs. If any of these features are not included in the eBay listing, then the seller should be happy to confirm whether or not the hard drive recorder that they are selling has them.