Toss up: personal video recorders
With the digital television switch-over looming, a personal video recorder (PVR) replaces your old VCR as the easiest way to record live television.
Both of these PVRs are designed to support the viewing habits of busy households. The Strong can record three digital TV channels at once, while the Topfield ups this to four. The Topfield's one-terabyte hard drive also doubles the recording capacity of the Strong, but both PVRs let you expand recording capacity via USB.
You'll find built-in ''Season Pass'' options on both PVRs for automatically recording your favourite shows each week, plucking the program guide from the broadcast signal. Only the Strong is compatible with the slick IceTV.com.au service, which downloads the program guide from the internet and lets you schedule recordings via a computer, smartphone or tablet.
Thankfully, neither recorder sports the Freeview logo, so you can skip the ads rather than fast-forward. Once they're connected to your home network, you can also stream TV recordings from these PVRs to DLNA-compatible video players and some PVRs and games consoles. Both feature a built-in ethernet port for connecting to your home network, but the Strong also comes bundled with a wi-fi adaptor, whereas it's an optional extra for the Topfield.
These PVRs are also handy media players. Both play files from a USB stick, while the Topfield can also stream video from your computer or network drive using DLNA. Both access YouTube; the Topfield adds the ABC's iView service.
The Topfield's iView access and ability to record more channels at once give it the advantage, unless you’re keen on the Strong’s IceTV compatibility.