The DVICO TViX M-6600N is a personal video recorder (PVR) with a 1TB hard drive, twin high-definition digital television tuners and integrated 802.11n wireless networking.

On paper it has specifications to rival the best in its class, and in practice it's mostly a pleasure to use. We were turned off by occasional stability issues, which will hopefully be fixed in firmware updates.

Like the DVICO TViX R-3300 before it, the DVICO TViX M-6600N PVR is a boxy device that looks more like a stack of old VHS cassette cases than a powerful home entertainment hub. Squat and black, it has a few shiny metallic accents to give it a bit of class - but it nonetheless looks utilitarian. It's not so ugly that you wouldn't want it to be seen. Its remote control has the same layout and design as older models'. For new users the small text can be a bit disconcerting, but the layout is intuitive.

When compared to larger set-top boxes and digital video recorders (DVRs), the rear of the DVICO TViX M-6600N is Spartan. A single HDMI output will likely be the go-to convenient connection for most users; at least it better be, since composite is the only other video connector. Optical and coaxial digital audio outputs are joined by stereo analog RCA plugs for connecting a home theatre system. The 10/100 Ethernet port sits above two USB host ports which accept mass storage devices, and a larger USB B port can connect the TViX M-6600N to a PC when needed.

The DVICO TViX M-6600N PVR is no shrinking violet when it comes to codec support. It can breeze through all the usual standard-definition DivX, XviD, MPEG and WMV formats and H.263, H.264, VC-1 and DivX HD support means the majority of downloaded high-definition videos will play back successfully as well. We ran tested with suite of files, including MKV, AVI, QuickTime, MPEG, Flash and DivX and didn't encounter any problems.

Getting these files onto the DVICO TViX M-6600N is not as complicated as you might think. You can connect it directly to a PC using the supplied USB cable - where it appears as an external hard drive - or you can hook it up to your network via the 10/100 Ethernet port or through the 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. We elected to use the wireless connection and, after a trouble-free setup with a compatible 802.11n router, we found transfer speeds and connection quality to be as good or better than other similar units we've tested.

The picture quality from the DVICO TViX M-6600N PVR's internal HDTV tuners was also good, with channels scanning quickly and without issue. We were disappointed to find that when recording a program you're not able to watch any content from the hard drive - presumably this is to avoid buffering issues when recording video. However, you can watch one free-to-air television channel while recording another.

The DVICO TViX M-6600N has a reasonably speedy interface. Unfortunately when watching television and navigating through the wireless network menu we encountered frozen screens. Granted this only happened twice in several hours of testing, but it put a dampener on an otherwise competent product. We're hoping these stability issues can rectified in future firmware updates.

It's these same firmware updates that are set to enable further nifty features like YouTube playback and weather information services. It's great to see DVICO endeavouring to increase the TViX M-6600N's appeal with these extras; however, if these features are going what's selling you on this PVR then we'd wait until they're successfully added.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

PCWorld.idg.com.au

DVICO TViX M-6600N: Specs

  • 1TB storage
  • Dolby Digital, DTS Surround Sound
  • 215x215x70mm
  • 1.4kg
  • supports AAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, WMA, AVI, Motion JPEG, H.263, DivX, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV, Xvid, H.263, JPEG, BMP, JPG
  • AC Power
  • supports Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows Vista
  • Coaxial Digital Output, Composite Video Output, HDMI Output, Line out, Optical Digital Output, USB 2.0
  • Wireless 802.11n, Wireless 802.11b, Wireless 802.11g
  • 1TB storage
  • Dolby Digital, DTS Surround Sound
  • 215x215x70mm
  • 1.4kg
  • supports AAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, WMA, AVI, Motion JPEG, H.263, DivX, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV, Xvid, H.263, JPEG, BMP, JPG
  • AC Power
  • supports Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows Vista
  • Coaxial Digital Output, Composite Video Output, HDMI Output, Line out, Optical Digital Output, USB 2.0
  • Wireless 802.11n, Wireless 802.11b, Wireless 802.11g

OUR VERDICT

The DVICO TViX M-6600N is a personal video recorder that improves on the solid groundwork of earlier TViX models. It's not a perfect PVR, with occasional hiccups that might annoy novice users, but the expansive feature-set makes it a tempting prospect.

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