Despite all the great things on the Humax DTR-T1000's spec sheet, we should first discuss its most glaring omission – Wi-Fi. A supposedly cutting-edge product like this really should have built-in wireless web connectivity given its emphasis on simplicity and convenience. Instead you have to hook up the Ethernet port to a router or homeplug adapter. An optional dongle at least gives you a wireless alternative, but that’s extra cost and hassle some buyers could do without.
Elsewhere, the 500GB hard-disk is a decent capacity, while twin Freeview HD tuners allows you to record two channels simultaneously, or watch a programme from the start while it’s still being recorded. The beauty is that you can even watch a third Freeview channel or stream from online services while two recordings are taking place, showing what a versatile recorder this is.
The Humax brings together content from the main online catch-up TV services – BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD and Demand 5 – as well as Sky’s Now TV service. YouView’s creators have hinted that they’re in talks with hundreds of other content providers, so there’s plenty more content to come.
The YouView slogan is ‘Extraordinary Choice, Extraordinary Control, Extraordinarily Simple’, and the third part is certainly true. Every single aspect of the DTR-T1000 is designed to provide maximum ease of use – even down to little things like the attached battery flap on the back of the remote to stop you losing it. You also get LAN and HDMI cables in the box.
Setting up the Humax is easy enough, although rigging up mains HomePlugs and LAN cables is a mild inconvenience if the Humax is placed nowhere near your router. HDMI simplifies connection to your TV and you can boost sound quality by hooking up the HDMI, digital or analogue outputs to your sound system (the Humax is Dolby Digital Plus and Pulse compatible).
On first boot up the step-by-step wizard uses plain English and clear, engaging displays. It handles all the key settings, including channel tuning and online connection.
The key to the DTR-T1000’s success is its user interface. The classy onscreen design is perfectly pitched at the audience – simple but not patronising. All of the onscreen menus are informative, logical and displayed in a tasteful colour.
At the heart of the DTR-T1000 is its unique EPG. Bring up the guide and you can go back through the last seven days and select any programmes available on the online TV players, as well as zooming up to eight days ahead and setting programmes to record in the usual way. The six channel programme grid is large and uncluttered, with live TV playing in a box at the top, and you can skip days using the remote’s forward/back keys.
Select a ‘past’ programme and the Humax jumps to the relevant online player (if available) and starts streaming. In some cases you have to sit through adverts as you would on your PC but most start playing quickly – 4OD shows even announce that ‘you’re watching 4OD on YouView’. Obviously it’s not a unified viewing experience, as each player has its own look and layout, but that isn’t a big problem given their natural intuitiveness. You can set the Humax to always play the high-definition version of streamed content when available, provided your broadband connection is fast enough (the minimum recommended speed is 3Mbps).
You get all the usual PVR features, like pause/rewind live TV, series and split recording, green button trailer booking and onscreen alerts to avoid clashes.
The Home menu places banners at the top and bottom of the screen, allowing you to carry on watching TV while you navigate. It provides access to the Guide and the setup menu, as well as the MyView section where all recordings are stored.
This menu also provides alternative ways of accessing online content. In its ‘On Demand’ section, you can visit the online players directly, filter content by genre or search for programmes by keyword with predictive text. The Humax brings up thumbnails of all relevant content on catch-up TV portals, with the number of episodes found. It’s one of the slickest and most versatile PVR GUIs we’ve encountered.
There’s an ‘info’ key on the remote that brings up details about the current programme, and although it goes into far more detail about the programme than most PVRs, you can only view details for the programme you’re watching and not any others.
The Humax DTR-T1000's remote allows you to skip through the EPG days at a time
Humax has put a lot of thought into the DTR-T1000’s remote. The inwardly curved sides not only look elegant but make it remarkably ergonomic, while the buttons are large and arranged for maximum convenience – music to the ears of the elderly and technophobes. The gloss black finish makes it surprisingly sexy too.