General chat about the TF5800 and TF5810 PVRs, along with other European Topfield models, customer service, plus other Toppy issues not covered elsewhere

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Anybody still using a Toppy as their main viewing platform?

Post by foomanchu »

I might be the only one... but I can't let go just yet!

My Toppy recently got plugged into a new LG HDR Smart TV via Scart YUV which the TV supports and give a nice (if not super detailed) picture with natural colours. Yamaha digital amp does the audio.

I still record and watch most TV the Toppy in preference over using iPlayer and ITVHub. It's easier and quicker to use the Toppy, stuff I might watch gets filed away without worrying it's going to expire, ready for me to watch when I want, and no ads!

Of course the Toppy would be nothing without MyStuff for which I'm grateful.

It's all going to come to an end I know. Our spare room telly isn't even plugged into an aerial - it's used Smart TV only - I've not owned a DVD player for years, or Video for decades, I'll just rent and stream a movie if needed. I'm not a fan of ongoing subscriptions (other than the licence fee).

Crashes are becoming a little more frequent (I did do the caps in 2015) and occasionally it seems to struggle - I noticed MyStuff_RecordedInfo.dat gets really big sometimes and deleting it helps - but I know the writing is on the wall.

Anyway I just wanted to show my appreciation while it's still in use, thanks everybody!
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Post by jimi »

8) My TV default source is the Toppy, it has been since I bought it in 2006. Tried a Youview box earlier this year but couldn't get along with it, missed the versatility and sophistication of My Stuff.. Since I did all the caps, fitted a fan and replaced my u/s aerial downlead it's been trouble free, not that it was particularly troublesome before. I suspect that the only thing that will stop me using it will be lack of SD channels. Dreading that day :cry:
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Post by mp_york »

We still use the Toppy's as the main TV recording devices and so does my mum and the wife's parents (on my recommendation). They all run MyStuff and have had the caps done. They will keep being used while they work and SD is available. We do have a Panasonic HD recorder, but it's rarely used, slow and unintuitive UI.
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Post by gomezz »

I have moved on with the more universal adoption of HD and beyond and the increasing use of online services. At the moment my main device is a BT Youview box (prime reason being to watch MotoGP) supplemented by a Digitalstream Freeview PVR and a Humax Foxsat PVR and also a Chromecast dongle controlled from my Android tablet for those online services the Youview box does not support such as Youtube and LUTV.

Yes, it is a step back to the dark ages as far as the UI goes but I have learnt to live with it especially when using a Harmony universal remote to rule them all.
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Post by andyfras »

Our Toppy is used for all the day-to-day recordings, but I use a Foxsat HDR for HD recordings (I had a newer Humax but it 'lost' its disk, as several seem to do).
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Post by YorkshireJumbo »

I'm with andyfras. I use the Toppy for controlling most of what I watch, but I'll use the YouView box to record HD versions of programmes if available. Or in the case of Quest HD, because everything on Channel 33 is all but unwatchable.

I have started using the YouView box more as it now shows you what you've been watching on catch-up. So I often go there now to watch the latest episodes of recurring shows
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Post by munk »

I still use the Toppy as my main recording facility. I've been meaning to switch to one of the newer OpenVix PVRs for years now but the toppy just carries on doing such a great job (with MyStuff of course) that I just keep putting it off continuously.

We got a newer Panasonic 4k / UHD TV (CX400) a few years back and I was a bit worried that the Toppy wouldn't work so well with that, but in the end it was fine (more than fine even!) and I find it hard to make much of a distinction between the Toppy's SD output and the 1080p HD content on the TV. I mainly use the Toppy to watch everything now via the cx400, unless it's something in UHD which is transmitted over IP (very very rarely and almost more of a novelty, even UHD content doesn't blow me away that much compared to the standard SD, I think the last thing I watched in UHD was Wimbledon a couple of years back). Maybe my eyes need testing heh.

The one main bug bear I have with the toppy is not being able to watch something that I'm recording downstairs on a device (a PC basically) upstairs in 'chase' mode, usually some film or other on Film4 that starts late at night when I want to go up to bed and watch it there. That is the one thing that makes me want to move to OpenVix.... but the Toppy is so great though I don't know if it justifies the move.

If anyone knows of an online platform that allows you to watch live Film4 (and C5 occasionally) then that would be great. For a while (I think?) used to have it but they (unsurprisingly) ran into issues re legality/licensing/regulation etc I believe so cut the channels back to just the main ones (I think they might have stopped completely now). Then for a while there was Filmon that allowed it, but they've started charging in the last few years. I know there's one place where you can essentially 'view' the filmon stream for 'free' via a 3rd party site but it involves a crazy workaround involving refreshing the stream every minute or so to 'bypass' the 'limited' service they have (you get to watch 1 minute for free I think before they flash up a 'subscribe now' popup). Not really workable.

Such a shame there isn't the same option to watch Film4 live online as there is with the BBC channels.

I've done / have the gamut of other viewing options, I used Plex for quite a while to stream downloaded content although nowadays I usually just stump for a month's subscription to whatever streaming platform if there's something I really want to watch - latest example was the last series of Better Call Saul which is definitely worth a month's subscription fee to watch!

For a while I played with the HDHomeRun networked PVR system via Plex but wasn't overly impressed with that. Seemed to reliant on a rock solid 100% quality aerial which just wasn't viable for me after splitting the single aerial feed in two to try and accommodate it.

Through it all though the Toppy has been my mainstay for recording / watching the usual Freeview TV stuff.
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Post by MikB »

@foomanchu you're certainly not the only one :)

Almost all viewing here is done by timeshifting via Topfield, with programmes/part programmes I want to keep being shoved off to a connected PC.

The Topfield also acts as a DVB-T receiver for a (UHF connected) old 4:3 portable telly, and also feeds an analogue colour/composite signal to a connected PC so I can watch TV in a window while at the PC.

It all works really well, no incentive to replace it with anything (likely options would be something based round Raspberry PI + USB tuners, or an Enigma box).

The destruction of Freeview by shifting it all to T2 would be a limiting factor, as would a non-repairable hardware failure.
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Post by anthony2l »

Toppy still in heavy use for recordings. Rarely watch direct since I've put a USB HD onto the TV which allows pause/timeshift. But sister with her TF5800 is on the Toppy for everything as she can't be bothered to deal with two sets of remotes.

Not looking forward to doomsday :cry:
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Post by CDSRavenHill »

Been a few months since I last had them powered up. Not much new on during the shutdown in productions.

I backed up the recordings to a NAS and watch from there, if it isn't already available on the much expanded BBC iPlayer and other streaming services.

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Post by mikej2005 »

I bought my trusty TF5800 back in June 2006 and used it daily for both watching and recording Freeview for many years on various CRTs, due to their lack of digital tuners.

I finally upgraded from CRT to a Full HD plasma in 2011 and carried on using the Toppy for a while (via a proprietary adaptor due to the TV's lack of scart), but really started to appreciate the jump in quality from SD to HD so I (somewhat reluctantly) replaced it with a Humax HDR-Fox T2 in 2012 so that I could record in HD. The switch from Toppy to Humax was great in terms of the SD to HD quality boost, but I definitely missed the MyStuff-style functionality which I'd gotten so used to.

An upgrade last year from 46" 1080p plasma to a 55" 4K OLED made the gap between SD and HD even more apparent and quickly revealed just how poor some SD content looks when upscaled on a larger screen, with the lower bitrate SD channels in particular now pretty much unwatchable at my viewing distance of around 8-9ft away. As a result, I rarely watch Freeview SD channels any more, favouring 1080/4K content from the like of Netflix and Amazon, Blu-rays or the odd Freeview HD recording from the Humax or show on iPlayer.

So... the upshot of all that is that since 2012, the Toppy has been relegated to the small bedroom HD Ready LCD TV and only gets used sporadically but I've got so much love for it that I just can't bear to chuck it out ! I even updated the MyStuff channel logos recently, just for old times sake :)

It's still standard BTW, with it's original HDD and PSU caps :D
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Post by bugbear »

Still using Toppy as Freeview viewing platform. Recapped. Still love it.

Sadly, my remote control seems to be dying (see separate post).

The toppy itself (with a recap) is still going strong.

I think the hard thing about all these tools is that it takes a fair amount of effort to become proficient.

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Post by andyfras »

mikej2005 wrote:It's still standard BTW, with it's original HDD and PSU caps :D
I strongly suggest replacing the capacitors if you want it to continue. There are some caps which will cause a lot of damage to the PSU when they fail, so it becomes a much more expensive repair.
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Post by widget »

Still using the Toppy on a weekly basis. Down from daily because of the lack of stuff to watch at the moment.

I was given a Huawei/BT Youview box, which I occasionally power up if I'm desperate for something on Freeview catch-up. Or I "screenscrape" on a 2nd PC for later watching at our convenience.

I was also given a Humax HD PVR (can't remember which model atm) and I'll use that to record something interesting in HD and ftp it to the PC for transcoding to mp4. This also has an external HDD plugged in to the USB port. Previously this was plugged in to a Raspberry i but I was away for a couple of months so left the HDD in the Humax for 'easier' viewing for SWMBO.

In addition I use get_iplayer for BBC things.

We're about to get a new UHD TV, as the 12yo one keeps 'rebooting' so I'm investigating a composite/component HDMI upscaler (for the Toppy & DVD player).

Longer term I'm considering my options as the Toppy ages and is incapable of recording HD. Might go rPi or Vix but not sure yet.

Like bugbear the Toppy has become unresponsive to the RC this week but I can't work out if it is the remote or the box. A very intermittent niggling problem, not solved by new batteries. I may need to dismantle the remote and clean the button contacts.

I'm always/still truly thankful for all of the help and advice on this site and was only wondering earlier this week (because of the remote) how many people were still lurking/using a Toppy.
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Post by js5800 »

I'm still regularly using the 5800, with mystuff it's easily the best freeview pvr that I've come across. Nothing can resolve clashing timers better (if at all). It's used daily for everything SD.

But it doesn't do HD so my Digital Stream does most the work nowadays and it's not too bad, it's reliable for recording (the main thing) but the UI is not a patch on mystuff. It also crashes a lot more often than the 5800 but this is usually on playback when you're using it as opposed to when it's recording.

In an ideal world Topfield would have released a HD version that would have been easy to port mystuff to. All other PVR's are a compromise but the only compromise with the Topfield is no HD.

Of course the 5800 would be quite poor if it wasn't for the brilliant people on here that made it all possible. Thanks to all of you.
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