Humax recently unleashed the first YouView PVR in the form of the Humax DTR-T1000 which seamlessly blends Freeview TV and on-demand content from the main terrestrial channels within a single EPG. Not to be outdone, Freesat has launched its own version – Free Time – which marries broadcast and catch-up TV in a similarly user-friendly fashion. Its flashy new ‘backwards EPG’ allows you to go back over the last seven days and watch on-demand content from the main channels, alongside common PVR functionality like series recording.
Free Time is making its debut inside the Humax HDR-1000S, a Freesat receiver with a capacious hard-disk drive, twin tuners and loads of bonus multimedia functionality including DLNA media streaming.
The box itself is gorgeous, dressed in gloss black bodywork that eschews the straight edges of most PVRs for more elegant curvy lines. A silver ridge runs along the front panel, which houses five buttons (power, volume, up and down). Below this you’ll find a USB port concealed by a protective flap. You can’t see it when switched off, but there’s a comprehensive LED panel on the front, which gives channel names and other pertinent info in large, bright letters.
On the back are two satellite LNB inputs (one for each tuner), HDMI and optical digital audio outputs, an Ethernet port and a second USB port. Scart, composite video and analogue stereo outputs are also provided, useful if you want to make copies of anything you’ve recorded. A Common Interface slot is found on the side.
Free Time is of course the Humax HDR-1000S’s key feature. All of the past week’s programmes from the various online streaming services are available for you to watch, all accessed from the central EPG. At present, only BBC iPlayer and ITV Player are available, but Freesat hopes to add 4OD and Demand 5 later this year.
The Humax HDR-1000S’s hard-disk capacity is 500GB, which is enough to hold 125 hours of high-definition programmes or 300 hours of standard definition. An alternative 1TB version, the Humax HDR-1000S/1TB, is also available for £299.
There are twin Freesat tuners, giving you the flexibility to record two channels simultaneous while you watch a third, or record one channel while watching another. Freesat’s range of channels is wide and varied, but of greatest interest are the hi-def channels – BBC One HD, BBC HD, ITV1 HD, Channel 4 HD and NHK World HD.
The Humax HDR-1000S isn’t merely a conduit for viewing TV though. Thanks to the network connection, you can access music, video and photos from servers on your home network, as well as a range of internet content from Humax’s TV Portal (more on this later). You can also connect a USB memory device and play media files from there.