I just visited the Topfield website today and noticed they had them on special with what looked like significant price reductions. For those not in the know a Topfield device is a twin tuner hard disk TV recorder (which you might say are pretty popular now – but Topfields are the top shelf variety). For the nerdy folks (like me) you can program it too, allowing you to write custom programs (called TAPs) to run on it. This is one of my favourite features because lots of people (there is a fairly hardcore community around the device) have written really useful programs that you can load onto it (EPG’s, management tools, games, etc). There is a USB 2.0 port at the back so you can copy tv programs off and onto DVD (or DivX them like I do). I’ll have a blog post about doing this shortly when I release a program I wrote to handle the whole DivXing process for you.
Negatives? The user interface on the device I guess is a little primitive these days compared to media centre PC’s, but I think the functionality provided is far greater since this is a purpose built device. A couple of functions could have been better designed, but this can be overcome with Andy Cullen’s excellent ProgressBarKeys TAP which I use. Otherwise it is a great device.
2 1/2 years ago I bought a TF5000PVRT model and it is seriously one of the best purchases I have ever made, changing the way I watch TV completely. I paid $790 for it then (talking them down from > $1000 thanks to people on the Topfield forum), now you can get it for $399 new (or $329 refurbished). To me it was worth every cent of the $790 I paid, so it certainly is worth the $399. My VCR became completely redundant immediately.
If you are thinking about getting one and wondering which model to get go here to find out more info on the models. I have a TF5000PVRT, and I seriously recommend getting at least that level (ignore the TF4400PVRT – you can’t run TAP’s on it).
So I thought I’d pass this on as I am soon releasing some software I have been developing in relation to the device (it will be open source), so the more people with one the merrier. I also hope to finish some TAPs I was working on at one stage but never quite finished and release them too.
PS. I am not an employee of Topfield or associated with them in any way. Just a happy user!