It’s a Freesat receiver with freetime, a feature that lets you access on-demand TV straight from the programme guide alongside live broadcasts. Its compact design and affordable price make it ideal for use in a second room, or as a cost-effective way of bringing catch-up TV into the living room. But it’s not just about TV – this smart little box of tricks also plays media files from networked servers and USB devices.
The box itself is slim and compact, perfect for slipping into a tight spot. It’s styled in a tasteful black finish with a brushed strip on the front, although it’s nowhere near as glamorous as Humax’s HDR-1010S Freesat PVR. The fascia is plasticky and there’s no LED display (just a boring light) but the rest of the casing is nice and robust. There are no controls on the box itself apart from a standby button.
Somehow Humax has crammed loads of sockets onto the skinny rear panel. There’s an HDMI output for piping high-definition pictures to your TV; an LNB input to feed in a signal from a satellite dish; two USB ports – one of which can be used to connect a USB hard drive, another for Humax’s optional wireless LAN dongle – plus analogue stereo, composite video and optical digital outputs. The line-up is competed by an Ethernet port for a wired connection to your router or homeplug.
As well as bringing you almost 200 free satellite channels, six of which are high-definition, the HB-1000S also gives you access to all of the UK’s catch-up TV services – BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD and Demand Five. These can be accessed though the EPG (more on that in ‘Operation’) or from the dedicated ‘On-Demand’ section, which throws in YouTube for good measure. Additionally the TV Portal section houses a range of other apps, including Wiki TV, Flickr, Picasa, Teletext Holidays, OK!, the Daily Star and Daily Express.
You can also play your own music, video and photo files from USB devices or from servers connected to your home network. That’s a lot of functionality for a ‘simple’ Freesat receiver.
As if that wasn’t enough, the HB-1000S can also be turned into a PVR by connecting an external hard disk to the USB port. That means you can schedule recordings from the EPG and record an entire series at the push of a button. There’s only one Freesat tuner, so you can’t record one channel and watch another, but it’s great for recording stuff while you’re out.
Elsewhere the Humax can upscale any channel to 1080p and is compatible with Dolby Digital Plus.