Humax HDR FOX T2 Review

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  • Features

  • Ease of Use

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diablo944's review of Humax HDR FOX T2


“It is all too easy to say that something you once had...”

Written on: 18/03/2011 by diablo944 (20 reviews written)

It is all too easy to say that something you once had is better as it never failed, or better as it had more options. With Tivo US killing off the series one Tivos in the UK in June we needed something to take care of our freeview recordings. Nothing comes close to beating the Tivo EPG, but trying to give an informed judgement on a new box means discounting all experience with the Ultra reliable Tivo which served us for ten years without failure....

I have to start with this single Tivo reference:- Tivo was a far better EPG than any other box I have tried, but pretty much every box now beats the Tivo in terms of recording and viewing quality along with multiple tuners and large drives as standard....

So any Freeview recorder from here onwards has to be based on its own merits and be compared to current competing units. We tried a Philips box but it proved to be a huge disappointment, this led to the Humax being the next choice down the shortlist...

Specs include 2 tuners, an 8 day EPG with search facilities (providing you are on the latest firmware), a 500 Gb drive giving around 120 hours of HD recording and double that for SD only recording. A 1Tb drive unit is now on the market but for me seems like a bit of overkill. The box has facilities to stream video from USB and from connected network drives. Pictures and music are also supported via USB. DivX is fine, but no MKV support which is a shame. Backing up video from the machine is possible but it is coded and scrambled as it can only be played back from the machine that creates the backup file. A bit of a shame as it would be nice to be able to transfer to PC/Laptop/ipad or whatever for viewing later, but it is not an option....

Setup is as simple as 1,2,3. On switching on for the first time it only needs a quick OK to start it off on the basics of screen type (16/9 4/3) and away it goes. Scanning channels and setup is pretty much fully automatic and only needs your input a couple of times during setup, none of which is difficult for even the most tech limited granny out there...

Once setup the box works as it should, controls are for the most part intuitive, even if the remote layout isnt quite so impressive....

Running on the original firmware gave a few raised eyebrows as things were not perfect. Menus were a little slow and the search function locked the box up totally requiring a restart. 2 minutes on the net showed the problem was down to how freeview had changed something in the coding and compression of additional data and a firmware update would cure it. You can either wait for the DTG to transmit the firmware over the air (which is infrequent at best) or download the update and apply using a USB stick. We used USB and the update was done in less than 5 minutes (though half that time the update was at 88 percent and looked like it was crashing out, we made a coffee while it was updating at 88 percent and by the time we returned it was complete). After the update the controls were faster, the menu faster and extra options opened up on top of the search becoming functional....

The unit can upscale all broadcast material to 1080p (it is an option and not forced upon you) and it does make a difference as even the oldies saw it was better than their new TVs own tuner output...

If you are watching TV on an SD channel and a HD channel is showing the same content, a small box opens in the top left to prompt you with 'Available in HD, do you want to watch it in HD now'. Pressing ok at that prompt switches to the HD content, its a nice touch... pressing record records the channel on the screen at the time. Selecting from the EPG for recording gives relevant options depending on the programme. A film will give 'record this programme' and 'reminder', while a series like the gadget show would add another option of 'record the series'. Series recordings are placed in a folder named after the programme and make the recording list view easy to navigate.

Searching the EPG is simple enough and input is via the remote in either keyboard or SMS mobile phone style input. Options are search for a programme title via keyword or search by genre. We found that keyword was a better option as Genre is limited to 400 items. 400 seems ok until you think that if there were over 400 films on tv in the nest 8 days, the EPG would miss some. As some of the genres may have more than 400 hits it could be an issue but is unlikely to affect anyone in freeview land in reality...

If I had to say one thing I hate with the box it is that once you start a recording it really doesn't want to stop. Reading the manual brought the fact that if a programme is started it will record to the end of that programme even if you keep trying to press stop. I am a bit perplexed by that being the case. Schedule conflicts are dealt with well and if an alternate broadcast is available it will automatically reschedule when you select ok... Startup time from standby is anywhere between 5 and 15 seconds. Why it is short one time and not another is beyond me. The update speeded things up and also made menu selections and searches lightning quick. Recordings are spot on perfect and the time shift facility for live TV equally so. One note on timeshifting:-the total available Timeshift is 2 hours, but if you choose to then record, it will record ONLY from the point you are actually watching when you press record. So if you are 10 minutes into a programme and decide to record it, make sure you rewind to the beginniing before you start the recording off. There is a minute or two delay between selecting record and the programme being available in your stored viewings library as the box transfers the data to the drive...

So to sum up:- out of the box the unit has a few glaring glitches, but once updated to the new firmware it is proving to be an admirable piece of kit. Recordings and general usability are spot on. I would happily recommend it to anybody looking for a Freeview PVR. The only reason it doesn't get 5 stars is because a Tivo EPG version would have gotten that and with so many aspects of Tivo not present in other boxes, they all fall lower in terms of final results. The Humax is a good second place in EPG terms but a clear winner everywhere else

  • Value For Money

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Guest's Response to diablo944's Review

Written on: 02/06/2011

fascinating reviw of tivo boxes and nothing to do with this box
which is not a PVR

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Daveq's Response to diablo944's Review

Written on: 02/03/2012

We've gone tha same route (TIVO to Humax) and agree with most of the above. I have successfully archived a program to a USB stick and played on the laptop with Windows Media Player. Firmware update is June (OTA).

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Nreview's Response to diablo944's Review

Written on: 21/09/2011

This review pretty much sums it up. A couple of points missed;

It is a dual tuner, so one can theoretically record two programs at the same time and watch one of those channels (or a pre-recorded program) however it almost seems to have 2.5 tuners in that you can record two channels at the same time and then, depending on the channels you are recording watch a 3rd channel. It's hard to work out what channels you will be allowed to watch on this third (or 1/2) tuner but is dependent on the other channels that are recording. This is not a negative point as an extra 1/2 tuner (however random) is better than just the two.

The other point which is a negative is the TV portal. You have to buy a dongle which when I bought cost about £25 and came from Germany. It is very temperamental although that may be down to be internet connection. Regardless the only channels presently that can be received through the TV portal are BBCi and Wikipedia and so is an almost pointless feature. Hopefully they will resolve this soon.

I'd give this product a 8.5/10

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