Topfield TRF7160

A PVR that performs the essential PVR functions, but without much in the way of grace.


6.9
CNET Rating
5.5
User Rating

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Design

The TRF7160's design is pretty nondescript. We're quite used to set-top boxes being black little numbers with not much pizzazz, and that's the TRF7160 in a nutshell. It's visually very similar to the TBF-7120, except that the hard drive's internal and the LCD display extends to more than four characters. Bland isn't necessarily bad in the PVR space, though, as ideally you're going to want to spend more time looking at the display above it anyway. From the rear you'll find composite, component and HDMI video output, optical audio and a single USB and LAN port.

One thing you shouldn't have to spend much time looking at is a good remote control, but the TRF7160's remote is far from good. It's cluttered with way too many buttons that are all closely grouped together and similarly shaped. Even after extensive testing, we still couldn't confidently hit the play button on the middle of a group of similar sized buttons without visually checking first. To make matters worse the buttons are squishy and sometimes unresponsive.

Features

The TRF7160 is a dual-tuner EPG with a 500GB hard drive with support for up to 1080i video output. In terms of digital free-to-air that's fine — nobody's yet broadcasting in 1080p — but in terms of playing back other video it's a slightly limiting factor. The TRF7160 is capable of media playback in DivX, .vob, .mkv or MP4 format, although annoyingly it can't do so over a network despite the presence of an Ethernet port. Instead, it can only handle those media files if they're on a USB flash drive, the port for which is on the rear of the unit. That means if the playback feature is important to you, you can't put it into an AV cabinet.

So what's the ethernet port for? At a basic dull level, it'll handle firmware updates. At a slightly more compelling level, it'll also allow you to play an in-built networked video game. Finally, it opens up the possibility for the TRF7160 to serve files and create new recording profiles over the internet. The TRF7160 isn't Freeview certified, which means that ad-skipping is supported via a dedicated button on the remote control.

Performance

The TRF7160 passes the test in terms of basic PVR functionality, as it'll capably handle EPG scheduling, pausing live TV and playback of recorded files. Similar to other Topfield PVRs we've tested lately the in-built menus work but lack elegance or simplicity, something that's made a little worse by the provided remote control. Far too often we had to interrupt our TV viewing time simply to work out the next menu command, something that a little bit of design work and better build quality could easily have rectified.

We've seen plenty of bodgy in-built games in set-top boxes before, with variants on snake and Tetris the usual suspects, but Topfield's mined another gaming genre with its in-built game, Battle Tanks. It's a Worms clone, controlled entirely from the remote control, and it's playable either over the network or as a single player game. It's an ambitious gambit that doesn't quite pay off, again due to the remote control not being as precise as it really should be.

Over the internet, you can access already recorded content and set up new timers, but unless you're very network savvy, you'll find Topfield's provided instructions a little bare-bones for getting the service working. Even after we'd opened ports and set up fixed IP addresses for everything, we struggled to get the system working at times. When it did, it was very rudimentary, and best used more for setting remote recordings than attempting to transfer files.

Conclusion

The TRF7160 ticks the right PVR boxes in most important aspects, but we can't say it's a particularly engaging choice. It's hampered by the need for complex networking set-up in order to get remote access working and by a poorly laid out remote control, factors that make it less compelling next to similarly priced PVR options.

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ronmaxfield
9
Rating
 

"An operationally brilliant and versatile PVR"

ronmaxfield posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Excellent specifications and operational versatility

The Bad:No serious flaws

The TRF7160 does almost everything I would expect a PVR to do. I've had this PVR for 2 years and it has performed faultlessly since purchase. It has many functions and I use them all. The one improvement I would like it to have is the ability to enable multiple selection of recorded programs for transfer or deletion.

kaos0421
1
Rating
 

"sent back 3 times in 12mths"

kaos0421 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:not much

The Bad:customer service and the product

bought this and havn't been happy from day one. It tapes wrong programmes names of tapped programmes constantly wrong. Start or end of programmes allways missing added 15min to start and end of every programme recorded to overcome.
Worst of all stopped working alltogether now for the 5th time. 2 times it was fixed over the phone and now is sent back to be repaired for the 3rd time as they dont refund cash. Was told that it is not unusual to have to send an electronic product back to be repaired and I am being unrealistic thinking that is wrong.

BWPerth
1
Rating
 

"Waste of Money"

BWPerth posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Nothing

The Bad:Unreliable

Bought one of these about 18 months ago and can honestly say biggest waste of money ever. I spend lots of time away for work and reality is I just never got round to taking it back which I should have.

Random menu / EPG displays constantly, i.e. will say show XYZ is on when looking at EPG, change channel to show XYZ and turns about show 123 is on instead. Ran firmware updates and no solution but that did get me Intelligent Recording, only problem is is not that intelligent. Frequently (now 100% of the time) will only record parts of show or nothing at all. Had set to record a show last night, 30 minute long show. Recorded a total of two minutes which consisted of the first and last minute of the show.

Now at 18 months old its virtually useless and cant be relied on to record anything. What it does record is either mis-timed or glitchy (problems with HDD).


Bright blue light on front blinds you when watching telly to make it worse. Dont waste your money and more if you do own one and having problems dont miss time time to return it like I did.

 

JGA posted a comment   

It takes a while for my Topfield to start up either through the remote or the power switch on the recorder. I am using HDMI cable. I have had the recorder 3 months. Anybody got any advise.

Regards

JGA

Gr11zzly
3
Rating
 

"Poorly implemented feature rich"

Gr11zzly posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Flexible and full of features

The Bad:Clumsy confusing interface

The 7160 is my first topfield product. I've had it and used it for a few years now and have to say it has the worst interface I have come across. It seems as if its designed by a committee that didn't consult each other nor try its functionality on a user group. My other machine is a panasonic. By comparison it is a dream to use.
The toppy has some useful features which were what got me to buy it in the first place but all in all I would NOT recommend it to anyone.
Simple things like the number of button presses it takes to move to the next recorded program. Select a pre recorded program---Hit STOP and it takes back to live TV instead of the list of recorded programs.
The blue button on the remote--its sometimes delete sometimes delete all and sometimes something entirely different. Confusing and a sign that the design hasn't been thought about.
The other poorly implemented feature compared to Panasonic is editing and chapter marking. Clumsy and error prone.
Great features--poor implementation.
I had hoped that a better software release and better remote might be coming but apparently not.

Now that the remote has given up I have to think carefully about replacing the remote (more good money after bad) or replacing the whole box.

I cannot recommend this to anyone that ISN'T a NERD in need of features

 

rikdias posted a comment   
Australia

Connected my USB drive but can't find the source to open it. would appreciate any advice.

 

Gr11zzly posted a reply   
Australia

Use the chapter forward button on the remote to cycle through the various bits of storage available

AG365
10
Rating
 

"Awesome PVR that is the best that I've seen so far!"

AG365 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Well programmed and easy to use

The Bad:accessing data from my external hard drive wasn't that straight forward

I was blessed to have used a Topfield model since 2005 and loved it. Great in all aspects. It died a natural death and I was keen to replace it - I spent 30mins trying a Kogan SOB piece of arse before googling better options. Topfield7160 sang out as being exactly what I wanted.
The menu prompting and flow are very similar to my first one so I could dive right in and from the get go,I have been using the 7160 with great success. It was a piece of cake to set up and tune. I love all the HD channels that I now get and my wife loves being able to store a large range of shows for when she ends her shifts.
The remote could be slightly better by having larger buttons for the functions that are most used. And i tried to load a movie from an external hard drive and couldn't access it - but that is bound to be my fault. But the fact that I could locate the file after experimenting suggests that this aspect isn't the clearest to achieve. That however is my only criticism, and a small one at that.
Topfield has yet another machine on the market that is streaks ahead of it competitors.

 

paul1403 posted a comment   
Australia

I have been getting the same pixelation problem during playback. Does anyone know if there is a fix, or even a reason, for this?

 

Soundslikeaplan posted a comment   
Australia

Just wondering if we have a dud unit. Bought the unit 4 weeks ago working fine until this week. While watching more and more recent playbacks there are regular intervals of pixelation, which is like it skips or it stopped recording while recording parts of the program from a few seconds up to a minute. Its very annoying, has anyone else experienced this??

 

jpfrom wa posted a reply   
Australia

I have found the unit pretty easy to use but the 80odd page user guide leaves a lot to be desired in ease of use and English (must be the translation from China)
The external drive setup has one line in Chapter 7 (page 40). No further details are given so you are on your own.
Don't know whether the pixalation problem is the same for all but mine occurred as I ended up with less room on the hard drive. All the early recordings seem to work O.K. Was going to export all recordings to the external HD (if I can work out how) and see if further recordings still have this problem. Will give a progress report if this woks.

One other thing, the unit purports to play digital radio but all I can get on the unit is 2 ABC and 2 SBS stations.. Anyone else got this one. Cheers
JP

hubartus
1
Rating
 

"Faulty x 3"

hubartus posted a review   
Australia

The first two units were faulty and didnt even power up out of the box. The third one last about 12 months of very occassional use, but now is stuck in standbye mode and totally unuseable.
Whilst the unit worked the dissapointments were 1) its not easy to extract your recordings you need to go through a network router (dont be fooled by the USB port) 2) when you do get the files off they are a huge inconvenient size and format 3) the machine runs so hot it carries a warning "High tempeture do not put anything on top of the unit", and its true, like a heater in your room, you need to keep it off at the wall.


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User Reviews / Comments  Topfield TRF7160

  • ronmaxfield

    ronmaxfield

    Rating9

    "The TRF7160 does almost everything I would expect a PVR to do. I've had this PVR for 2 years and it has performed faultlessly since purchase. It has many functions and I use them all. The one imp..."

  • kaos0421

    kaos0421

    Rating1

    "bought this and havn't been happy from day one. It tapes wrong programmes names of tapped programmes constantly wrong. Start or end of programmes allways missing added 15min to start and end of eve..."

  • BWPerth

    BWPerth

    Rating1

    "Bought one of these about 18 months ago and can honestly say biggest waste of money ever. I spend lots of time away for work and reality is I just never got round to taking it back which I should h..."

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