The Humax PVR-9200T has long been regarded as the best Freeview personal video recorder money can buy, offering an unbeatable combination of features, user-friendliness and picture quality. But because it was launched long before the Freeview Playback initiative was brought into play, this superb digital recorder was in danger of being usurped by newer, cheaper and more talented models. So to bring it bang up to date, Humax released a software update earlier this year which adds the full range of ‘Group 2' Freeview Playback features to the unit's already impressive recording arsenal. So with these new talents in mind, combined with the fact that we've never featured it before, we thought it was time to take a long overdue look.
Before we get stuck into its internal talents, it's worth noting that the PVR-9200T is not, and never has been, a work of art on the outside. Its boxy design and all-black finish is the epitome of bland, and not even the silver version can inject much excitement. But on the plus side the front-mounted buttons are tidily arranged and the information display is clear, telling you the name of each channel in large, legible text (instead of just the channel number).
The flap on the front hides the common interface slot for adding pay TV channels, and a Type B USB port, which enables you to transfer pictures and music from a PC onto the unit's hard-disk and play them on your TV and home cinema system. The latter is a valuable feature, given its rarity among hard-disk PVRs.
On the rear panel you'll find a fairly standard selection of sockets, including an RGB-capable SCART output for your TV and a second SCART that can be connected to an external recorder - but this second SCART only offers composite and S-video output, so you can't make highest-quality RGB copies of programmes on DVD unless you use the ‘TV' SCART. Also on the rear are composite and stereo audio outputs, plus an optical digital audio output that can carry a Dolby Digital 5.1 bitstream (should Freeview broadcasters ever start using them). These are joined by an RF input and output, the latter carrying digital TV pictures thanks to the RF modulator - useful if your TV lacks a SCART input.