Accessibility review: Strong HD Recorder - SRT 5495A

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In October 2010, Strong Australia loaned MAA one of its latest high definition hard drive recorders to review for its captioning capabilities. The SRT 5495A is a twin tuner terrestrial receiver and digital video recorder, with AV inputs. It is equipped to handle both next generation MPEG-4 broadcasts, including 3DTV and current MPEG-2 broadcasts, with a 500GB hard disk drive.

The SRT 5495A was reviewed by Chris Mikul and Ally Woodford.

Initial set-up

The initial set-up was quite straightforward and simple, although setting the time required some fiddling and multiple referrals to the manual. Once we decided not to use the GMT function and to manually set the time, we were off and running.

While the autoscan function searched for the digital channels, we debated the benefits of using the device as an alarm clock, which we thought could be a useful feature. Other useful features of this box include an SD card reader, time shift (pause and rewind live TV), electronic program guide, and the ability to record three shows at once whilst watching a fourth (either live broadcast or pre-recorded).

Once our channels were selected, we were ready to watch and record programs. We found though that we couldn’t turn the sound up particularly loud. With the TV sound at halfway and the HD recorder at 100% we could only just hear the volume in the office. Turning the TV sound up to 100% gave us enough volume to hear in the office but for the size of the TV, we found the lack of volume strength surprising. We have not experienced this problem when our TV is set up to other devices.

The button to activate the captions on the remote control was very easy to locate as it was labelled both with the text ‘Subtitle’ and a diagram of a box with a horizontal line towards the bottom of the box, representing a line of captions. The font for caption viewing could be clearer though. It’s a serif font, which we found very boxy and uneven.

Manual recording

You can manually record a show you are watching simply by pressing the Record button. The device will record for 3 hours unless you stop recording beforehand, but you can change this default setting to a different duration.

To watch a manually recorded show you simply press the File List button and select the program. The captions show automatically if your captions are currently activated. If they do not show on playback, simply activate them via the Subtitle button. Therefore, regardless of whether the captions were displayed or not when recorded, you can activate them or deactivate them on playback.

Timer recording

You have two options for timer recording: either through the electronic program guide (EPG) or by manually setting the times you’d like to record.

Regardless of your timer recording method, the captions can be activated or deactivated in the same way as manual recording.

To record via the EPG, hit the Guide button and use the arrow keys to view the programs for each channel. Once you’ve selected the channel and program you wish to record, you can simply press Record, which will turn the program font red, so you can be assured that you’ve selected the program. The other option is to press Timer, which took you to more detailed options to record the program on a daily or weekly basis, for example.

To do manual timing, press the Guide button first of all and select the channel you wish to record. Next, press the Timer button. A list will appear which will show you what you’ve already planned to record. You need to toggle down to select an empty slot and set your settings. You must be on the channel that you wish to record (selected from the Guide page) as there is no option to change the channel on this page.

As a test of the device’s capabilities, we simultaneously manually- timer recorded ABC, recorded Ten via the EPG and recorded Seven by simply pressing Record. Whilst these were all recording we watched ABC2. On playback, all recordings played captions and had the ability to turn the captions off or back on. Therefore, this device will allow you to record three shows with captions whilst watching a fourth.

Our recording of Ten via the EPG did, for some reason, cut out the first few minutes of the show, although we suspect this was to do with the network running a little behind on its programming. For this reason we suggest setting the timer to run a little over the programmed start and end times to ensure you get the whole program. This is not a fault of the boxes, it’s a network issue.

Other comments

On a few occasions the remote control seemed to freeze but after waiting quite a few seconds, all commands that had been selected but had not yet appeared on screen, did appear.

The SRT 5495A also offers the ability to connect your subscription TV box (for those that don’t have a recording box like the Foxtel IQ) and record your subscription TV programs.

Overall, despite the font, volume and remote control issues, the box was easy to use once you learnt how to drive it and did a great job at recording and playing back multiple programs with (or without) captions.

The Strong SRT 5495A has a recommended retail price of $499. 

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