The rest of the Humax HDR-1000S user interface is responsive and easy to navigate. The Home menu is particularly well designed. Live TV plays in a large box, with the menu options to the left. When you scroll through the list, the information below the screen changes – so when you select TV Guide you see a scaled down version of the Now and Next EPG, for example.
From here, you can also visit the Settings menu (which is thorough and incredibly easy to follow), check hard-disk recordings, consult the Help section or search for programmes in the EPG by keyword. You can also explore On-Demand content from a dedicated menu if you don’t fancy searching through the EPG.
The Showcase section picks out a selection of recommended programmes, split into various sections – ‘Watch Tonight’, ‘Don’t Miss’ and ‘On-Demand’. This isn’t based on your viewing habits like Virgin Media’s TiVo box – it’s simply a collection of programmes that Freesat thinks you’ll like, like the first incarnation of Sky Anytime.
Another section worth checking out is simply labelled ‘Humax’, where you can explore the TV Portal’s range of apps. Currently the line-up is limited to Wiki@TV, Flickr, Picasa, Teletext Holidays and Humax Support, although YouTube will be added soon. You can also watch videos, photos and music from the hard-disk or a connected USB device, or stream media from DLNA devices.
The list of supported video formats is excellent. The Humax HDR-1000S tackles AVCHD, XviD, DivX, hi-def AVI, MKV, MP4, and WMV HD, although playable music formats are limited to MP3 only. The media playback menus are superb, displaying logical lists against sophisticated background graphics.
The Recordings also looks terrific. You can filter your list in different ways – ‘HD’, ‘Most Recent’, ‘Still to Watch’ and so forth. You can also view programmes you’ve kept and ones that will be deleted first when you start to run out of space. A series of icons denotes the status of each recording, and you can manage them using a menu that pops up when you hit OK. It’s remarkably thorough yet intuitive.
The Humax HDR-1000S remote is designed with similar attention to detail. First up, it’s the perfect shape for the hand with its inward curving sides, plus the glossy black finish makes it a coffee table triumph. We love the large rubbery buttons with their clear labels, and the layout is perfectly intuitive with the menu controls directly under the thumb. It doesn’t feel cluttered, but all of the key functions are covered – there are buttons for Recordings, Settings, Search and the EPG of course, plus the red Record button is impossible to miss.