We’ve had an influx of Freeview HD recorders on TrustedReviews over the last few weeks, which means at long last there’s a wide range for consumers to choose from. The latest model to come under the microscope is the Humax HDR-FOX T2, which was actually the first Freeview HD PVR to hit the shops. Humax is usually the brand to beat when it comes to free digital TV, so it’ll be interesting to see how its twin-tuner PVR measures up to rival machines from TVonics, Philips/Pace and Sharp.
In terms of looks and build quality it measures up very nicely indeed. It’s much bigger than Sharp and Philips’ recorders and more conventional than TVonics, yet it’s still immensely attractive. There’s a glossy black finish covering the casing, which is a fingerprint magnet but deeply stylish, while the front panel is pleasingly uncluttered. It features a ring of blue light in the middle, four tiny silver buttons and a dimly lit orange display panel that’s quite hard to read. It shows the full channel name and an icon that tells you if the current channel is hi-def.
On the back you’ll find an excellent array of sockets, which unusually includes a common interface slot that allows you to add pay TV channels like Sky Sports 1 and 2. You also get HDMI, Scart, composite, optical digital and stereo audio outputs, plus Humax even chucks in two USB ports for uploading firmware updates or playing back MP3, JPEG and DivX from storage devices and external HDDs – it’s the only recorder of the four we’ve seen that will play MP3 and DivX. Also worth a mention is the on/off switch on the back which comes in handy if you don’t like leaving devices in standby overnight.
Another of the Humax’s unique features is its ability to hook up to a home network through the Ethernet port on the rear. You can stream music, video and photos from connected PCs and other devices, and when you combine that with the USB functionality the Humax is more of an all-round entertainment hub than a digital TV box. We tested out the network streaming by delving into a wireless Vista laptop packed full of files, and after some brief hesitation at the start the Humax played all of our files smoothly with excellent sound quality.
Soon Humax will introduce an Internet TV portal for the HDR-FOX T2, which will bring Sky Player, catch-up TV services and internet radio into your living room. The HDR-FOX T2’s feature list is already first class, but IPTV will make it unbeatable.
The rest of the spec is equally impressive. On board is a 500GB hard-disk, which equates to 125 hours of HD recordings or 330 hours of SD, and of course the inclusion of two DVB-T2 tuners means it’s flexible when it comes to recording. You can record one channel while watching another or record two channels while watching a third, which is always a bonus (something that even Sky+HD can’t do). And of course you can also watch a programme from the start while it’s still being recorded.