back to article Humax HD-Fox T2 Freeview HD receiver

The HD-Fox T2 is the first zapper out of the Freeview HD blocks. Humax is aiming to carve a large slice of the early adopter market, especially amongst the legions of football fans that are expected to upgrade to HD in time for the World Cup in June. Priced at an eye-watering £180, it needs to deliver a seriously impressive …

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  1. bygjohn
    FAIL

    How to kill off a platform before it starts

    Nearly £200 for a box with no DVR functionality, no way of timeshifting HD, no way of archiving off recordings if it did them.

    Bzzzt. No thanks.

    Proof that HD is a racket in a nutshell, largely aimed at selling equipment and killing off the consumer's ability to keep recordings beyond what the broadcasters dictate.

    I'll stick with my SD Toppy, thankyouverymuch.

  2. Stuart Halliday
    Happy

    30% enough?

    I wonder where this 30% figure signal strength figure came from?

    If you let a Freeview set running DVB-T have a quality setting of less than 6 (60%) then the picture starts to flicker and break up into pixel blocks.

    Where I work we have plenty of customers who come in with poor aerials and their Freeview boxes regularly show 5-6 (50-60%).

  3. iwi

    no timeshifting?

    Wake me up when I can get same functionality as my existing DVR.

  4. Dick Emery
    FAIL

    May as well get Freesat

    May we well get Freesat. For the price and coverage and the ability to use a DVR.

    Freeview HD can suck a fat one. :P

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    bit overpriced?

    Ok so you can get a freeview SD receiver box for about £20 .

    this box just adds a couple of HD channels and bang the price is now £180.

    So fancy little decoder chip must cost £160.

    what a bargain product/rip off depending on how gullible you are.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fancy little decoder chip

      Fancy little decoder chip? Oh, how naeve you are my friend.

      HD uses MPEG4 which is vastly different to MPEG2 and requires a lot more performance. Not to mention the change in analogue signal demodulation.

  6. MJI Silver badge

    No record no sale

    What is the point of not being able to record?

    This is an expensive box and you cannot even record with it.

    However unlike Pace I expect it will work.

    I have been left with a PVR which fails to work after switchover, thanks Pace, I will wait for a Humax PVR.

  7. Steve Todd
    Stop

    Check your facts

    "but a major disappointment is there’s no way to skip 24-hours ahead or back"

    except by using the chapter forward and back buttons on the remote, which do exactly that.

    HD content, when it's available, is great. There just isn't enough of it at the moment on Freeview to make it wildly attractive (ITV HD is a joke. They currently broadcast between 1 and 2 programs per day, and often don't broadcast even scaled up SD films - they leave you with a graphic saying the program isn't available).

  8. Stuart Elliott
    Pirate

    ITV HD already available if you have Sky HD

    You can already surreptitiously get ITV HD if you own SkyHD by manually adding it to "Other Channels".

    Add Channels using these parameters:

    11.427

    H

    2/3

    27500

    And add channel 10510, and watch it in Other Channels.

    Only downsides, are you can't pause/rewind and the audio isn't Dolby 5.1, but the picture is crystal, great for Champions League matches. \o/

  9. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Kicks Freesat into the long grass?

    Did I read that right? You think something that can't record or time-shift the HD content kicks something that can into the long grass? Is that the same long grass that you're smoking?

  10. Nathan 13
    FAIL

    No record, no good

    As others have said the whole point of a £180 box rather than a £20 one is the ability to record TV to watch when I want to watch it.

    And another thing why are all these companies paranoid about HD. Its basically the same picture as before just a bit sharper. Its not made of gold or diamonds, so why do they go at such lengths to "protect" it.

    In 5 years it will be HD2.0 or 3D or HOLOTV, but you can only view it with your ID card in the Humax slot with a cam link to the FACT office to make sure anyone watching it has inserted their ID.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Avoid Humax kit at all costs

    Their firmware quality control is a joke - everything they release is bug ridden garbage. I've had 2 boxes - a FoxT2 and 9200 pvr and while the fox was bad , the 9200 plumbs whole new depths or buggyness. Random freezes for random periods of time, not responding to button presses on the remote or front panel and just complete lockups which require a hard reset to sort out, you name it , its had it. And thats with the latest revision.

    I will never buy another Humax - they chuck kit out there with a load of checkbox ticks for features so they look good but its only when you get them home you find out they've effectively sold you alpha quality firmware.

    Avoid.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hmm

      My 9300 has been brilliant., couple of issues when I first got it (if left on BBC1 when something else happened or some other weird fault - very rare it happened anyway), but seems to have fixed itself with a broadcast download. Been up and running for 6 months with not problems whatsoever.

      As for no record on this HD stuff -are they mad? I practically only ever watch shifted/recorded stuff.

      HD Decoder chips. Broadcom do some good ones - come it at about £10 each maximum I guess. So, it's not the decoding that cost the money, probably the receiving stuff, or development costs for a new product. Or just Humax wanting to rake in some money.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      I couldn't agree less

      Sounds like you have a faulty unit, or maybe your environment (signal break-up, power surges or similar) is the cause of your problems?

      I've had a 9200 for over two years now and I've had to reboot it about 5 times in that period. That's once every four months or so. In fact, right now I can't remember the last time I had to reboot it - it was definitely before Christmas but it was so long ago I couldn't tell you when. And we (the family) use it all the time. Sometimes it's a bit slow at responding to remote control commands, and it sometimes misses the beginning or end of a program (mostly when the broadcaster messes up the now/next data) but it's mostly reliable and you can always pad one-off recordings (such as films) if you want to make damn sure it will record the whole show.

      I wouldn't call the 9200 "perfect" as it would benefit from a few extra features and there are a few known bugs that remain outstanding (and will probably never be fixed), but it's a lot better than anything being offered by any other manufacturers at the moment. To their credit Humax have issued various fixes and upgrades to the firmware in the years after its release. With other manufacturers you're lucky to get one update and your update would rarely, if ever, include new features.

      So while I'm sure you may never buy another Humax I can confirm that I definitely would. The best £200 quid I've spent in a long time.

      FWIW my 9200 is on the latest firmware.

      Don't avoid! :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Humax 9200

        I have a 9200 pvr too, it's crap. It would be great if it wasn't so buggy.

        Twice recently, it's wiped out my recorded programes. The first time I had around 88 programmes in the list!

        The second time,only had around 6-8 because it wasn't so long since it wiped out the 88!

        Turning the box off is a frequent thing for me now. Recently it's got a lot worse.

        Had a great new bug a few days ago, it wouldn't record anything and wouldn't rewind the live tv.

        But getting down to it amongst the mass of cables is a bit tricky so I didn't reboot the box..magically several days later it sorted itself out!

        The remote control is the worst remote control of any product I have ever used in my 40 years of existence.

        Usually, either the video or audio locks up and the other keeps on going for a little while...until the machine dies completely.

        I can even see how the software/infra red receiver interface actually works, it's so bad.

        They need a) a watchdog timer on each of the execution threads to reboot the f**ng machine when a thread locks-up

        b) They need a master reset button on the front panel.

        Personally, as a professional software engineer and former professional electronics engineer, the software developers on this device should be shot.

        Ok people will say you can't create a complex product like this without any bugs..all the more reason for putting in watchdog timers to reset the unit when an execution thread dies. No excuses, just do it.

        And you know what's really bad? Not being able to actually pause the video on the bit you actualy want to freeze it! It's as if the pvr moves back or forwards to the next full uncompressed i frame in the data stream, and that can be a couple of seconds away from where you want to freeze the picture!

        Oh,not to mention, that when you move back and forth, pause/play it jumps several seconds seemingly randomly.

        If you want to buy a brand new Humax box just straight on to the market, then you're an idiot.

        I'll wait 6 months or longer.

    3. richard 69
      Thumb Down

      9200

      hmm, i've had my 9200 for 3 years and had to re-boot maybe 4 times....if you have a weaker signal and/or poor signal quality it may be getting stuck, but seriously it's a great piece of kit. an hd version would now be superb.

  12. andrew mulcock
    Thumb Down

    HD ?

    I think I'd rather have more bits on all the existing chanels to up there quality than one or two in HD , the rest in Low D,

    1. Danny 14

      I only skimmed the review

      but there seems to be an ethernet socket on the back. Whats that for?

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        'Future services'

        Ethernet is mandatory on all FreeviewHD boxes, and there have been suggestions that it could be used for iPlayer and similar in future, though the main marketing push at least initially is about other things.

        It would be a big surprise if iPlayer doesn't arrive, but some of the manufacturers will also very likely use the ethernet port for their own services - and that may include pay services delivered by IPTV as well. At least one of the boxes on display at the launch today had a card slot, for instance, and comes from a company that's pretty well experienced in the IPTV and pay arenas.

        At the technical launch (there's a link somewhere around here to my report of that), SeeSaw was also one of the things mentioned as being potentially able to take advantage of the ethernet connection in future.

  13. Michael Ross

    I think some posters are missing the point...

    ...the point being that this is just the first in a line of boxes subsequent ones of which will have hard-drives for recording onto. I have to agree about the 9200 though, still it is a 2+ years old model and Humax are still working on fixes for it. It dates from before 64QAM and is struggling to keep up.

  14. jolly

    Need a bit of clarification please

    This review contains some rather confusing statements. Firstly this Humax model is not a recorder, so why mention that it can't record or timeshift in HD? Secondly it's not a recorder so why mention being able to export SD recordings to USB following a future firmware upgrade? (unless I've missed something and Humax are providing this STB with a hard-disk connection so a disk can be fitted, in future, following a firmware upgrade, maybe???? [sounds very unlikely])

    Also, I haven't read anything that would lead me to believe that future T2 recorders will be prevented from timeshifting or recording in HD. If the reviewer could post a link to their reference on this one I'd be grateful (from reading the comments on this review I think several other peeps would appreciate this too).

    Whatever the pros and cons of the Humax STB, as Nathan 13 has already pointed out, it's only the same content with slightly better detail. So quite why broadcasters are going to such lengths to enforce new protection on their HD streams is anyone's guess (unless, of course, they're using HD as a convenient lever to get what they would really have liked to bring in for their SD content but knew they'd never get agreement from the manufacturers or Ofcom).

    Anyway the more I think about watching Phil Mitchel rant and rave in HD the more I'm tempted to give the whole thing a miss and keep my money in my pocket.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Copyright Protection

      It's only a little bit sharper picture, why are producers bothering to go to such lengths to protect the material?

      Producers have been wanting to put in copy protection for years, they'd do it for SD video if they could. The move to HD, in our eyes might seem rather petty, not worth the effort on producers to bother with copyright protection, but this is just a great opportunity for them to introduce it.

      As time goes by, more and more programmes will be done in HD and the copyright infrastructure will already be in place, having been introduced, forced upon us right now.

      It's much easier to introduce and force on to the public new technology incorporating copyright protection chips at the onset of the technology onto the market place than trying to force everyone in 5 years time when millions of people have video recorders which don't have the protection chips built in.

    2. Adrian Justins

      Tuners are not the same as recorders

      Of course Freeview+ HD boxes will record HD shows because they are PVRs. HD receivers (tuners) such as this one don't allow you to record HD content to external devices including HDDs and DVDs although they will allow you to export SD content. Humax will be facilitating the USB drive on this STB to make SD recordings.

      I don't see many manufacturers publicising the recording restriction and being able to record is something most of us take for granted, even if it involves hooking up more than one bit of kit.

  15. Steve Evans
    WTF?

    Eh?

    So the HD spec deliberately prevents companies making PVRs that record?

    Wonderful...

    Won't bother with that then. Being able to series link and schedule recordings, or even just pause whilst you go for a pee, has got to be the best thing to happen to TV since sliced bread. Even my parents have got to grips with it and love their SD Humax PVR.

    On the list of critical features, I would put being able to record well above having HD. Hell, I'd put being able to record above it being in colour!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Series Link

      But don't you just love the concept that Humax built in to the 9200 PVR that you can't use series link and have the video automatically start at the true broadcast start time of the television programme?

      Don't you just hate it that when you use series record that you often miss a minute or two of the start of the programmes you record?

      I never did quite work out why those two features in the Humax were mutually exclusive, anyone else know the answer?

      And don't you just love it when you discover that they didn't document anywhere the mutual exclusivity of these two great features, it's not in the manuals.

      And don't you just love it when you spend hours, trying to figure out why the series link feature no longer works, and how irritated you are that , only for someone else to tell you they're mutually exclusive. It's one or the other...you can have the video record the entire programme from start to end irrespective of what actual time it starts, but you can't record the entire series... what a decision to make.

      if you haven't had to make this decision yet, then you don't know your Humax.

      Yes, I really love Humax and their wonderful logic.

    2. Nigel Whitfield.

      Ummm, no...

      This particular box can't timeshift.

      But the HD spec does specifically allow for recorders, and there have been quite a few announced over recent weeks (and a few on display at this morning's launch down at C4).

      There are specific requirements, and more testing for recorders to get the FreeviewHD+ certification (and testing seems more rigorous in general for HD, perhaps because of experiences with poorly performing ultra-cheap kit in the past).

      There will be recorders, including one from Humax, and they will be able to record HD. What's at issue so far is whether or not there will be the content protection included in the EPG data, which will allow broadcasters to prevent copying to other high definition media, such as Blu-ray; it's not a blanket ban on copying, but pretty much the same system that's already in place on Freesat.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Updates on pvr 9200

    Well, my friend, I have no flipping idea where you're getting your Humax updates for your 9200 from, that last over-the-air update to mine was year 2007!

    Frequent updates? Perhaps once upon a time..but definitely not now..and the machine really does need some new updates. There isn't support for this product anymore.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Calm down dear

      Humax released a number of updates for the 9200 until, I think, February 2008. As you probably know another update is expected soon to fix two bugs which seem to affect a number of owners (mine suffers with the "slow response" bug every now and then but it doesn't make the box unusable). Granted the latest update has been delayed recently, and Humax still haven't announced an actual OTA update date. But what would you rather have? an update in three months that fixes your issue with no side effects, or an update now that introduces new bugs?

      From what I can tell Humax have been reluctant to spend much time/money on the firmware since the end of 2007 but at least they're now bowing to pressure to release a fix to the firmware of what is quite an old product (some manufacturers would just tell their customers that their hardware is out of warranty so take a hike). Back in 2008 I wanted to see new features added to the 9200 but it became apparent that Humax were focussing on new products and further updates to the 9200 were not to be expected. This isn't unusual - Humax had already released many new features and fixes for the 9200 at this point and there's a limit to what can be done with hardware that was designed a few years earlier.

      FWIW the problems you're describing with your 9200 make me think you have a faulty hard drive. The hard drive is easily replaced if you don't mind voiding the warranty (if your unit has any warranty left on it, that is). If you already tried replacing the HD then it's probably a different hardware issue (disk controller or maybe memory).

      As I mentioned before our 9200 has been very reliable. I've *never* had to reformat the drive and our recording list regularly swells to 300 programmes before I prune it back down to 200 or so.

      Maybe if you get your hardware problem fixed you'll then only have to worry about your series link problems (missing the start and end of programmes). From what I've experienced this always happens with programmes on the same channels (mainly on E4 and More4). Some channels are very reliable (BBC1 and Five USA strangely enough!). If I notice that we're often missing the start or end of a programme I just change the recording from a series link to a "weekly" or "daily" recording (whatever is required) and then pad the start/end times. It's not hard to do - it takes about 30 seconds. You can schedule recordings like this alongside other series links (on more reliable channels) and they work alongside each other with no problems. It's an easy work-around that will save you hours or hair-pulling so I suggest giving it a try.

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