back to article Humax HDR-Fox T2 Freeview HD DVR

From a fairly slow start, the number of Freeview HD recorders is growing quite quickly; but the Humax has been one that many people have been waiting for. The company has a pretty good pedigree with DVRs for other services, and expectations have been quite high for the HDR Fox T2. Humax HDR-Fox T2 Freeview HD recorder Humax' …

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  1. GrahamT
    Thumb Up

    I have one of these...

    and I love it. The image quality is astonishing.

    One thing not made clear in the review, is that low power standby (the default mode) switches off the UHF passthrough, so you can't watch TV when the Humax is in standby, unless you use a UHF splitter instead of the normal passthrough. It is a fairly easy task to switch to standard standby mode, which leaves the passthrough working, but it will use more than 0.5W.

    There is a beta of the firmware upgrade available now to fix the search issue, plus a few other niggles, like the HD sound is at a lower level than the standard def Freeview sound. This will be downloaded over the air later in October.

    The upgrade to open up the TV Portal is expected in November. This should also enable BBC iPlayer, internet radio, Flickr and a few other services to be available on your TV.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Passthrough disable

      That is nasty, thanks for pointing it out

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Worth noting ...

        ... that the passthrough aerial output is disabled on a lot of kit that has a low power standby these days, in order to get down to a consumption of under 1 watt.

        Many boxes have an 'eco' or 'power save' mode, and disabling that is often required to ensure that the pass-through works.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fans

      I hate fan noise, even tiny fans. Does this unit have a fan does anyone know?

      Thanks.

  2. andy 28
    FAIL

    never again

    Having the misfortune to have a Humax 9300 thingy, I'll never own any more of their kit. Ever. Unreliable pos - whole programs it doesn't bother to record, starts or ends missed (yeah, could be broadcasters fault but I don't care anymore), freezes (and yes firmware is up to date). Oh yes, the nice way it wipes your entire recording schedule without even a warning if you rescan the channels. And more.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Could say the same about a lot of kit.

      Are there any 100% trustable PVRs?

      Wiping recording schedule - didn't they fix that?

    2. Nigel Whitfield.

      First generation

      I would say that, on the whole, I have found the FreeviewHD products from most manufacturers to be rather more polished than the SD ranges.

      And, of course, some of the SD products like the Topfields and the Humax 9300 (essentially just a revision of the 9200) have their origins long before the roll-out of Freeview+ (originally Freeview Playback). That, I suspect, has some impact on how well they have handled the changes to the platform. Certainly, the advice on the Toppy forums is that people don't use a Freeview+ firmware unless it's the only one available for their model.

      Freeview HD units have been designed with these features from the off; certainly this unit seems much more polished, and I think most manufacturers have learned a lot from their original experiences with SD units.

    3. Steve Crook

      They are all flaky

      Frankly, having looked at reviews of freeview pvrs, they all have problems this seem to hit some, but not others. The divergence of opinion on Amazon user reviews is pretty amazing.

      I've had Humax 9200T for some years, and generally been happy with it, until the sluggish remote problem started happening. There was a long wait for Humax to finally decide what they were going to do about it, but they did eventually fix the problems.

      I'd be interested to know how long the reviewer had the box before writing the review...

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Quite a while

        I've had it here for some time now; couple of months, and a fair bit of recording. Long enough to see some problems appear, then get fixed by later firmware betas.

        People tend to use this sort of box in very different ways, and I think that can affect the different issues that people find in different tests; if you use it essentially as just a digital replacement for a VCR, you'll have quite a different experience to someone who uses it as a primary means of watching TV, and avoiding ads - you wouldn't spot the chase play issue I mentioned, for instance.

        1. Paul Shirley
          Jobs Horns

          Humax, the Microsoft of the home electronics world

          Nigel Whitfield:"'I've had it here for some time now; couple of months, and a fair bit of recording. Long enough to see some problems appear, then get fixed by later firmware betas."

          My experience with Humax suggests waiting 18-24 months from launch. By then they'll have gone through the stages of denying bugs, ignoring bug reports, falsely claiming to fix them and finally get to a usable (but far from bug free) box.

          Then they'll stop support and leave you tearing your hair out when you hit something bizarre the clowns building the firmware couldn't be arsed to get right.

          The company that ignored 4 months of fault reports, until I went over their heads to the Korean CEO.

          Humax. Not with a long bargepole.

    4. James Wilson
      Happy

      YMMV

      You must have been unlucky, my 9200 is the best gadget I've ever bought. It's not that it's never given us a problem, but they've mostly either been issues that have been fixed or have been when I haven't followed the instructions (reverting to default settings after a patch etc.). It's more than made up for those by being simple to use and doing what it says on the tin. Or in fact more, with the improvements to the functionality that were rolled out later. Now if the powers that be could only get on with turning off the analogue signal to the south-east and boost up the digital power I'll be very happy.

      1. Sid James
        Thumb Up

        RE: YMMV

        I agree...my wife didn't understand why I bought it but she can't live without it now. We rarely resort to watching live TV and albeit for the initial problems (which were fixed with OTA firmware updates) has worked perfectly. I'd buy another Humax...this one looks a tad expensive at the moment though.

  3. GrumpyJoe
    Thumb Up

    Looks interesting

    I've currently got a Topfield PVR (250Gb, SD) that is starting to creak, this looks like the kind of box I could replace it with. Topfield are great, especially the MyStuff plugin, but new boxes are few and far between as far as I know (last terrestrial was the Topfield TF5810PVRt Freeview+ 500GB HDD but it's SD with HDMI Upscaling).

    Let's wait and see what the price online settles down to after a few months...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Been there, done that

      I just switched from a Topfield TF5800 PVR box to the reviewed Humax unit. The Humax unit makes the Topfield box look like it was made in a shed - the interface etc. is a huge improvement.

      Haven't had it long enough to give long term impressions but so far I'm very impressed.

      1. hornz
        Happy

        Upgrade path

        I'm looking for an upgrade from my trusty TF5800. It's served me well, but feels somewhat dated now. The Humax could be the answer. Cheers.

  4. chistery
    Thumb Up

    Software update coming

    A new software update should be available OTA from 18-20th Oct. with "Various issues and features updated (new download) " but overall this is a great box and you can get a 1TB drive option of you record a lot.

  5. Patrick 17
    FAIL

    Still no remote record facility?

    I have a Humax FoxSat (the Freesat version). It's a nice piece of kit. There are plenty of pages on the web with details on how to replace the hard disk with a larger one.

    My biggest disappointment with Humax and their new internet connected boxes is that they haven't offered a remote recording facility. This would be fairly simple for them to setup and would mean we'd all be able to record programmes from our iPhones/Androids when away from home like with Sky+.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this single tuner?

    We have a 9200T and love it (since the last firmware upgrade which made it usable again) but I need twin tuners. Single is just not enough.

    I'm not sure from this article if this is a single or twin tuner unit.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Twin

      It's a twin tuner. There aren't any single tuner Freeview HD PVRs (though there are a few set top boxes, like the Humax, into which you can plug an external disk)

  7. Mage Silver badge

    Also

    Regular Freeview gear doesn't work at all on Irish DTT (Saorview), but the Freeview HD (DVB-T2) should, as Irish DTT is DVB-T + MPEG4, AAC and MHEG5.

    Some people near Waterford getting Welsh Freeview + Freeview HD and the shortly live Irish Service. So possibly a good purchase for people in N.I. (about 45% will be able to get good Irish DTT signals).

    Explained http://www.techtir.ie/saortv/saorview

    The UK sagem Picnic boxes appear to work on Irish DTT but will fail as Irish TV migrates to HD only.

  8. Annihilator Silver badge
    Go

    Pretty EPG

    And not an advert in sight - Panasonic take bloody note!

    I've been waiting for one of these. Just need to "accidentally" break my existing Humax 9300 SD box so I have an excuse!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ads on Panasonic

      I cleared the postcode on my Panasonic TV and the ads vanished - just a grey box with Viera in it. No screen real estate recovered but no ads either. Dunno if it will work for your kit...

  9. MJI Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Interesting Review - now my questions & comments.

    I will start by mentioning I have a Humax HDR and a Pace Twin - the Twin is living on borrowed time after testing this summer in a DSO region - lets just say Pace support have an answer phone and will not return a call, and have also scuppered their chances of me buying a Pace made Freeview HD box.

    Does the remote clash with the HDR or is it fine. So far I have found that Sony Receiver select TV input is the same as Humax HDR off.

    I think it is a little ugly compared to the HDR.

    How much! High £200s I can understand but how much cheaper would it be without streaming ect.

    Can you manually tune it? or will it select the correct multiplex where more than one set is broadcast.

    Transcoding 5.1 - at last, an essential where surround sound is used.

    How does BBC HD compare to BBC HD on the HDR?

    A new HD channel with C4HD (however absent from Freesat HD) - this might be a reason for purchasing. What sound format do they use and how much is upscaled SD as compared to HD.

    Finally they need to make it a bit cheaper to get the sales, early adopters like me have their HD from Freesat, quite often with the Humax HDR, are we going to spend over £300 on another PVR?

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Side by side

      I've got a Foxsat HDR here, and a TV with Freesat HD, and I'd say that on the whole you would be very hard pushed to spot a significant difference between Freeview and Freesat versions of BBC HD.

      Both come from the same feed, I gather, so they start out being distributed at the same bandwidth. Then the Freeview HD signal is stat-muxed with the other channels, while on satellite, a variable bit rate is used, which is broadly comparable (exactly how much will depend on my getting recordings off the satellite box, which annoying doesn't report file sizes in the UI). I would expect that when BBC 1 HD launches, then the two BBC HD channels will be stat-muxed together.

      I think you'd have to look very closely to tell the difference between the two platforms

      1. MJI Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Useful info

        So similar picture. Good news then, I was worried that they would drop the quality to fit more in.

        I originally wanted the DSO simply to get more HD, then Ofcon and the government decided to sell off frequencies instead.

        Now I want DSO to hurry up as occasionally Emley Moor analogue overloads Sutton Coldfield digital.

    2. Nigel Whitfield.

      Remotes ...

      As for remotes, if you have the Foxsat HDR, yes, you can set the remote to a different code, to ensure that there is no clash between the two units.

      1. MJI Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Thanks Nigel

        It is on the list now!

  10. Paul Webb

    This looks lovely...

    .... But at £329? Not a Chance!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Sorry ...

        That's the similarly named HD Fox T2, not the HDR; it's just a standard set-top box, with the option of plugging in a USB disk for single tuner recording.

        You can probably find the HDR Fox T2 for a fair but under £300, but we can only really quote the suggested price as the headline figure on the review.

      2. Edward Andrews

        No it's not

        That's just a set top box, not a PVR

      3. Danny 14 Silver badge
        Stop

        err

        you must have better eyes than me. Cheapest I can find it on amazon is 273. Still too expensive for what it does. Since iplayer will transmit HD BBC then i'll stick with xbmc (with iplayer plugin)

    2. MJI Silver badge

      We all used to spend a lot more on kit

      Remember when it was £500 for a DVD player, £800 for a decent VCR, my first video camera outfit (bougth S/H) was £1000 when new in sales not including the tuner timer unit.

      Also the first flat screen CRTs were over £1000.

      This year I bought a Hi Def camcorder (HDV) for under £800, this years big buy,

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Quite...

        Five years ago, when the Topfield 5800 came out (at the time, about the most advanced Freeview recorder) that too was £300. But five years ago your money bought something with only a 160GB hard drive, USB for transferring files, no networking, and a decidedly less polished interface (albeit with the ability to customise it).

        The Humax 9200 was around the same sort of ballpark; that the same money will now buy you a much more polished product, with around twice the storage capacity (in terms of hours; see my calculations in the blog linked to the article) and network media playback, in HD, is actually not that bad, if you choose to look at it that way.

        Of course, when it comes to the pricing of TV recorders, a lot of people in the UK have had their concept of what these devices cost somewhat skewed by the fact that what was for many the first widely available PVR was Sky+, and that was heavily subsidised, as were the SkyHD boxes.

        The small print of the original SkyHD deals mentioned the list price of the box, if you chose not to have any subs, and it was over £300 too; look at the prices of unsubsidised kit on the continent, and you'll see similar.

        I'd love all this stuff to be much cheaper - but far from price gouging, in some cases UK models actually work out cheaper than some of the contintal equivalents.

    3. Julian 3

      Early Adopters

      Let the early adopters get shafted by paying £329 and the rest of us can pick up a new improved version at half the price next year.

  11. Nigel R Silver badge

    still waiting...

    ...for a box with built in WiFi together with a credible media browser for iPlayer and Youtube.

    I know everyone says that Homeplugs are better than WiFi but I have resolved not to add one more cable or gizmo, and only plan to dip into the online media on occasions.

    And again, in a quest to reduce box count I want a Sat receiver AND Freeview hard disk recorder in ONE box - there will never be full free coverage of SD and HD on one box alone.

    Meanwhile my ancient Humax 9200 PVR (with latest fixed-all firmware) is keeping me happy enough not to buy anything new for foreseeable future.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Personally ...

      ... I think putting WiFi in products like this is largely a futile exercise.

      It will work for some people, who don't have many neighbours with WiFi, but for many others there will be issues, like

      • congestion causing it to slow down

      • problem with incompatible standards and chipsets

      • configuration difficulties, eg entering encryption keys

      Some of these, of course, can be solved by saying to the punter "you need a more modern base station," which might get them plug and pay config, or better speed, but if you'd spent £300 on something that boasted WiFi, would you really be happy if the support line told you you had to spend more on upgrading a network that you thought was working fine beforehand?

      From a manufacturer's point of view, I think that adding WiFi is seen as a marginal benefit and one that's potentially outweighed by the support hassles. If you put WiFi in there, many of the less technical punters will expect it to work. And they will call the PVR maker when they can't figure out the security, or don't understand why playback is interrupted, or the connection keeps dropping.

      The PVR maker, not surprisingly, will not have details of every base station out there, and will have to say to many people "Sorry, can't help you with that," whereupon said punters will flock to internet forums and say "This is useless and Brand X are crooks who refuse to help, it's a scandal" and all the other sorts of internet hyperbole - oblivious to the fact that there are 17 WLANs visible from their home, and that's going to bugger up just about any sort of wireless streaming.

      So, far easier (and cheaper) just to stick an ethernet port on the back, and let people plug what they want into that.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Put a small hub by the TV

        Ours has a PS3, the Humax HDR and a BT Vision box plugged in, then one cable to the router. Nice and neat and all TV based kit gets a decent connection.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Channel Arrange & Delete

    Can you delete channels you don't want? Can you arrange the remaining channels in a user defined order?

    I've got a 9200T and I wouldn't replace it with a box that couldn't do these two things. As I understand it, the EPG on Freesat is fixed similar to Sky, I hope it's not the same case on Freeview HD.

    1. GrahamT

      Re: Channel Arrange & Delete

      You can set up Favourites (4 lots) and add the channels you want in the order you want, so my favourites exclude all the shopping and pay channels and crap, and has BBC HD next to BBC 1.

      So not quite what you asked,. but the same result.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    bring back vhs

    It's amazing how variable the user experience is with these things. Even the first VHS recorders did what they were supposed to from day one.

    (Mind you setting up a recording was a 5-6 step process on some)

    1. MJI Silver badge
      Badgers

      It was total rubbish - even at the time

      Vhs is dead and buried where it belongs, I was lucky the Sanyo Beta HiFi VCR I had as my main TV recording VCR lasted from 1986 to 2005 courtesy of the penultimate set of heads being fitted to it.

      I was able to use it with an old Ondodgy box right up until the Pace Twin was released and I haven't looked back.

      What is funny is that it cost (my Dad) £300 in a sale (I got it when he downgraded) and my best Sony VCR cost me £800 in 1989, but I now baulk at spending £329.

      Oh and Sanyo is next to the PC for coverting to DVD, still works all these years later.

  14. Simon King
    Thumb Up

    Thanks for a decent review!

    I don't want to sound like a proper brown-noser, but ever since his original Freeview HD roundup, Nigel has demonstrated a solid understanding of the emerging platform and its issues and as a consequence the Reg reviews have become pretty much the only source of Freeview HD information you can guarantee is free of PR fluff and isn't just recycling the press release after having played with the gadget for a weekend.

    Trebles all round. And no, I'm not related to him.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Paris beacause...

    one of the screenshots shows a BBC programme called "An American in Paris". But then knowing her, that does not narrow it down a lot.

  16. Chris 3
    Thumb Up

    A few questions from the unitiated

    I'm quite keen on something like this, but there are a couple of things I'm uncertain about...

    1. Do devices like this record all programmes in HD or do I need to worry about DRM shenanigans?

    2. What are the chances of a device like this coming along that also incorporates a Bluray/DVD recorder/player ... my existing FreeView PVR has a DVD player in which is handy and also lets me on occasion archive stuff off to disk.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      DRM

      All programmes on Freeview HD can be recorded; there's nothing to stop that.

      The content controls are designed to prevent copies being made elsewhere, but not to stop actual timeshifting.

      There are devices with BluRay or DVD recorders, like the Panasonic DMR-XW380 which I reviewed here not too long ago - but in my view they're a compromise, and designed more as a disc recorder with twin Freeview tuners than a PVR.

  17. Vin

    Backing up recordings

    Hi there.

    At the moment, I too have a Topfield TF5800 for my Freeview needs, and a Humax Foxsat HDR for my FreesatHD needs.

    I've been waiting to see if Topfield would release a FreeviewHD product, but after having used the Foxsat HDR for over a year now, I'd be quite happy to go with this new FreeviewHD box.

    One thing I need to know, is can you copy recordings off the PVR?

    With the Topfield of course, it can be done by connecting the PVR to a PC.

    The Foxsat allows you to connect a USB drive, formatted as FAT32 or, I think, EXT3 (for the larger than 4gb recordings) Of course HD content is protected and cannot be backed up.

    Another thing I'd like to know, is how responsive is it, compared to the Foxsat?

    My only niggle with the Foxsat is how utterly sluggish it is to do almost anything. I can wait 5 seconds after a keypress for a reaction on screen sometimes, particularly when scrolling through the EPG to set recordings.

    If I do go from my Topfield TF5800, I will miss some of the taps.

    I love my old JAGS, that I still use, that automatically searches the EPG for all my favourite programmes when it boots up, and automatically sets timers, which can be invaluable if going away for any amount of time, but I guess I could live without it.

    Anyway, mainly I'd like to check if programmes can be copied off, either via USB, or better, LAN?

    Also I want to check if this unit is faster responding than the Foxsat.

    Thanks Nigel.

    Your reviews have indeed been invaluable, as to has toppy.org.uk over the years! :)

    All the best,

    Vin.

  18. Dick Emery
    Alert

    DD 5.1

    Can this transcode 5.1 AAC to DD5.1?

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Yes

      "HD includes full transcoding to Dolby Digital 5.1, making this only the second Freeview DVR I’ve seen that gives you surround sound when it’s broadcast"

  19. Vin

    Can you back up recordings to external storage?

    I'm still wanting to confirm that recordings can be backed up, either via USB and/or Ethernet?

    I've just been having a skim through the PDF manual, and have found the following note on page 37.

    "When a file is moved to a different storage, it will be copied. However, video recordings cannot be copied to other storages"

    This makes it sound like you cannot copy recordings to a USB drive.

    I imagine this would be wrong? After all, I regularly copy recordings from my Humax FreesatHD PVR to a USB drive.

    So can someone just confirm that this is possible? (and I imagine this is only possible with SD recordings, not HD?)

    Years ago, a friend of mine got hold of an old Nokia DVB-C box (I think it was a D-Box2), which had an excellent feature. It would stream live TV through the Ethernet port, meaning he could use the PCs in his house as TVs, with no further hardware/tuners. I've been wishing for such a box to be available here as either DVB-S or DVB-T. I guess this isn't possible with this PVR? I know it's a long shot, but I keep hoping for such a feature.

    It's also interesting to see another device with DLNA.

    So please advise on at least whether this PVR can definitely back up recordings via USB or Ethernet, and I think I may well have to get one of these, and finally retire the Topfield.

    Many thanks,

    Vin

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes

      You can copy programs on to a USB flash drive - I tried it!

      1. Vin

        Thanks

        Thanks for that.

        I was pretty sure that was possible, but just wanted to be 100% before parting with any cash!

        By the way, how do you find the responsiveness of the box, particularly whilst navigating the EPG? Have you used the Foxsat FreesatHD PVR, so you know what I'm comparing it to? It's a great box, just that the responsiveness can be a little frustrating, when you press a button... wait, think "has it worked?" ... "no" press it again, and then the menu jumps two places or whatever. ;)

        Sounds like a great FreeviewHD PVR though, so I may well pick one up to compliment my Freesat HD PVR.

        Thanks,

        Vin.

  20. Ivan Hallworth
    Thumb Up

    Great Solid & Balanced Review - Thanks Nigel

    At last! - a solid, fair, balanced, clear, focussed and well written PVR review in a sea of fug!

    Well Done!

    Very Many Thanks Nigel.

  21. Jason Chapman

    So can I copy from PVR over ethernet to my laptop / handheld

    I have a Humax 9200T (I think) I have tried copying from its HDD to PC over USB directly (which took forever and failed regularly - 30 mins of program in 20 mins). Then opened the box and used piggybacked of the IDE cable. What I want to do is copy content from my PVR to laptop to watch on the train etc. Will this box do that?

    Can I play on laptop with MS Windows Media Player / my MP2 player?

    How long to copy 1hrs TV?

    Looking at the q&a above it appears not for HD, but what about SD?

    TIA.

    JAC.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    tuner and twin function?

    hi, review didnt say whether it had multiple tuners...had to read comments to pick that up.

    (that kind of information should be in the review IMHO)

    anyway, I now assume I can record 2 shows whilst watching another?

    PS had ANYONE thought of - or can i buy? - a freeview HD AND freesat HD all in one combo box?

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