Zenith HDTV Personal Video Recorder
By Grant Clauser
Zenith is the first manufacturer to introduce a HDTV-capable PVR with the new HDR230. It's an off-air ATSC high-definition television receiver, which means that it receives its HDTV programming for free via an antenna, and doesn't require a satellite dish or cable set-top box. Programs are recorded onto an 80-GB hard drive, which can store about nine hours of HDTV, or 27 hours of standard TV.
This Zenith proves that HDTV doesn't have to be complicated. Without even consulting the manual, I had the HDR230 connected and comprehended in short order. You can select the output resolution (480i, 480p, 720p or 1,080i) to match the display's resolution. My antenna, a small indoor Zenith Silver Sensor, hooked up to the antenna jack. Audio came from a digital optical cable into my A/V receiver.
The first thing I did with the unit was to run a channel scan to find local digital channels. The scan went fast, much faster than any other high definition receiver I've used. The Zenith uses PSIP (program system information protocol) to generate its on-screen guide. Because not every broadcaster sends PSIP information, I only ended up with program listings for two of the five channels that the unit found, but those channels looked great; as clear and vibrant as you'd expect from an HDTV feed.
Of course, the value proposition is in the product's recording options. When you're watching something and want to save it for later, you just press the record button. A counter comes up asking you to select the record duration in 30-minute increments. Scheduled recordings are handled fairly easily through the navigation buttons on the remote; you can select the channel, date, time and duration of the recording. You can also set it to record at the same time on a daily or weekly basis. It's not as simple as the one-touch recording possible with a TiVo, but it's much better than a VCR. If broadcasters send reliable PSIP program data in the customer's area, recordings can be scheduled from within the program guide.