Topfield TRF2400 Masterpiece HD

The Topfield Masterpiece HD is a very capable PVR that offers a lot of recording flexibility and just as many cutting edge features as the "big boys".


7.9
CNET Rating
8.3
User Rating

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Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury


Design

The design of the TRF2400 is in keeping with a "Masterpiece" and mimics the austere elegance of other Topfield devices like the TF7100HDPVRt. It's smaller than most PVRs and features a glossy black front with a round control panel in the centre. The front panel also features a green LCD readout, which is quite easy to discern from across a room. There is a pull-down flap on the right-hand side that hides two USB ports as well.

We really like the new remote control. It may look like a 70's scientific calculator, but it's actually quite fun. It's also a learning remote and can control up to three other devices.

Features

We'll get the tech specs out of the way first: the Masterpiece features twin high-definition tuners, which means you can record one channel while watching/recording another; it comes with a 500GB hard drive; and it will accept an extra external drive up to 1TB.

As an internet-connected device, the Topfield offers several web services to users including weather, and YouTube (with search) and Flickr. In addition, the unit is able to play media files from an external drive and most codecs are supported, including HD video favourite MKV. While not a well-publicised feature, the Topfield does offer you the ability to move your recorded files off the machine and onto a PC. Topfield offers a browser which is actually quite intuitive, and means you can access the drive from any web browser. You can also move files onto the device's drive if you like.

The PVR supports the free seven-day electronic program guide, but the best functionality such as series and remote recording are available if you sign up for an account with IceTV. Though the unit supports the all-important MPEG4, the box is not Freeview compatible.

Topfield is one of the few companies that still allow 30-sec skipping (for ads, dontcha know) but it's a little tricky to get a handle on for first-time users because you use the coloured buttons instead. For this, the "Yellow" button skips forward and the "Green" button sets a bookmark that you can return to later.

One of the devices' most heralded features is that it has a component input for recording from other devices. But unfortunately it will only support a maximum of 576p, and so HD devices won't work.

The set-top box also comes with a game, Battle Tank, but as it's designed to be used with the wireless keyboard available on the European model it doesn't quite work properly. Topfield Australia says the keyboard may become available later as an optional accessory.

Performance

One of the things you want when buying a PVR is for the unit to be seamless — it should be easy to change channels and record new shows, for example. We don't want to have to enter menu after menu to get to the feature we want — we want it at our fingertips. While the four icons on the menu page do simplify things a little there is still some menu skulduggery involved. However, the experience is rather fluid, though not quite "slick", and it's relatively easy to record shows or find recorded ones. When compared to other Topfield units it's much better, but when judged against competitors such as TiVo and iQ we'd still give the latter two the nod. It's not always obvious which menu you need to access some features — for example, to record from the component input you need to choose "Entertainment" instead of "Record" and navigate to the bottom of that menu. Admittedly, this will only be an issue once, as you'll know where it is for next time. Topfield informs us that you can also use the "M" button as a shortcut.

Recording quality was very good, and everything from sport to an "HD" re-run of Seinfeld looked detailed and crisp. That said, up against a megalithic machine like the Panasonic DMR-BW750 flesh tones in particular were a little vague and the Panasonic showed better detail when recording sport from One HD. There was also a little more "moire" and jaggies on edges on the Topfield, but in isolation it did look pretty good.

We did have some problems accessing the Ice TV guide from work, but on a less-complicated home network the guide was able to download properly and we were able to use the remote scheduler — which is a lot better than Foxtel's needlessly Flash-heavy web guide.

All of the web features — YouTube, weather etc — worked as we expected, and we were able to view MKV files as well without an issue. On the "portability" side, we were able to view the Topfield's ".rec" files in Windows Media Player without a problem once we installed SMPlayer. This is such a great feature, and much preferable to TiVo's AU$200 Home Networking package — and it isn't weighed down with DRM! We also found playback quality on the PC was every bit as good on the TV, and Media Player was able to handle the files without the interlacing problems that some PC-recorded files have.

Recording from the component input was a little hit and miss, as it refused to record from an Xbox or DVD player — more than likely because of copy-protection issues. However, when we recorded from yet another Topfield tuner the recording came out fine — and you can tweak the recording quality if you want.

While the Topfield will ostensibly accept an external drive it didn't work with (nor recognise) the recent My DVR Expander released by Western Digital (WD) — though this is not surprising as the WD is pushed as a TiVo product anyway. Topfield advises that most garden variety external drives should work.



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AndrewB12 Facebook
2
Rating
 

"Terrible"

AndrewB12 posted a review   

The Good:Twin Tune

The Bad:confusing, laggy, doesn't skip sometimes, does skip others... buggy.

If you have had TIVO and are looking for a replacement... DON'T BUY THIS.. you will hate it, its slow, unresponsive and confusing to use.

AndrewB12 Facebook
2
Rating
 

"Not as good as Tivo"

AndrewB12 posted a review   

The Good:Ice TV

The Bad:Have to pay for ice tv. hard to navigate. slow response to remote

found it really hard to navigate, sometimes i couldn't stop what was playing, i would be stuck on a channel and couldn't change, epg wouldn't load fast. can't see what you have watched to delete. Had a TIVO previously and would go back to it in a hearbeat. For the price, and the fact you have to pay for ice tv. 2/10.

 

genomicmouse posted a comment   
Australia

After issues with our masterpiece plus we took it to the local sericer for toppfield and they replaced the hard drive, took them over two weeks but we havent had any problems since. I would really like to see better integration with internet viewing of tv shows through abc, channel seven etc websites.

 

blocka posted a comment   
Australia

The Good:new

The Bad:new

i want to down load save football shows etc from my mtstar hd to my new device can anyone help me what leads go where etc ??

genomicmouse
7
Rating
 

"When its good its great, when its bad, its very frustrating!"

genomicmouse posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Lots of great features

The Bad:Software crashes resulting in all recordings to be deleted and program reservations to be removed.

Happy with mostly everything. Good feature variety, easy to connect to downloaded shows/videos, good quality recordings and plenty of room to save them all.

Takes a while to learn how to do all the recording etc, but its fairly easy to pick up for the tech savy user. Remote is a bit frustrating that it only can fast forward or chapter advance and not advance for say 15 or 60 seconds.

Biggest gripe is with software crashes during play back and recording. Twice the contents we have recorded were wiped, and meant had to watch what we could on iview... which was why we go the the topfield to be able to watch more shows on tv and not the computer.

I hope that topfield addresses this issue soon in a software upgrade instead of thinking of another feature to add.. need to get the basics right first!

genomicmouse
3
Rating
 

"Topfield just crashed again..."

genomicmouse posted a review   
Australia

Topfield just crashed again.. lost all recordings including currently recording shows.. going back to the store tomorrow to return it. not impressed.

HeatherB Facebook
8
Rating
 

"help please with recording directly ont external hard drive"

HeatherB posted a review   
Australia

can anyone advise me as to how i can record directly onto external hard drive. i can copy files no worries but it takes a while would like to record straight to hard drive is this possible have went into menu can see where i could change from internal to external but can't access it have firmware up to dec 2010 cheers

Peachy
10
Rating
 

Peachy posted a review   

The Good:Wife Proof, great connection versatily, will record 4 channels!!

The Bad:price but quality product, no series record

Previously owned a TPF5100 from the UK for over 5 years. Upgraded to High Def. Picture quality is amazing against standard def. Front USB's mean simple plug and play with sticks and external HD's. No problem playing avi's and 99% of video files. Simple to use and the menu guide is simple.
Upgraded firmware and now can record 4 channels at once if required, unbeliveable.
Completely changes the way we watch TV here in Oz now. Never watch anything in 'real-time'. The slow-mo function was really handy for the recent ashes coverage. :-)
Cannot fault the product, has the occasional freeze but very rare. Wife loves it, looking forward to a whole season of Greys Anatomy and Despaerate housewives in 2011. Deep Joy....

Frank
8
Rating
 

Frank posted a review   

The Good:excellent quality & easy to operate

The Bad:Not yet discover

Use it for a month. Easy record and networking to PC. However, require KMPlayer codec (installed on PC)to playback some freeview TV channels. One problem, it doesn't came with Analog Tuner which cnet Australia mentioned it under other features column. We need it to record some in-house MATV services which only stream as analog signal.

Starby
10
Rating
 

Starby posted a review   

The Good:The bees knees

The Bad:Cost

Wonderful

Mark O
10
Rating
 

Mark O posted a review   

The Good:remote control, on screen menu, internet radio is very neat, youtube is great, wireless very handy, easy to connect a hard drive too, many many many more

The Bad:NONE

The Topfield Masterpiece lives up to its name. Its an amazing piece of equipment and very easy to use. from setting up the recording from the on board guide to watching downoaded movies off the pc. It really does everything i ever wanted and way more.


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User Reviews / Comments  Topfield TRF2400 Masterpiece HD

  • AndrewB12

    AndrewB12

    Rating2

    "If you have had TIVO and are looking for a replacement... DON'T BUY THIS.. you will hate it, its slow, unresponsive and confusing to use."

  • AndrewB12

    AndrewB12

    Rating2

    "found it really hard to navigate, sometimes i couldn't stop what was playing, i would be stuck on a channel and couldn't change, epg wouldn't load fast. can't see what you have watched to delete. H..."

  • genomicmouse

    genomicmouse

    "After issues with our masterpiece plus we took it to the local sericer for toppfield and they replaced the hard drive, took them over two weeks but we havent had any problems since. I would really ..."

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