We’ve always been big fans of Humax’s slick, informative onscreen design and once again the menus and digital TV displays are first class – even better than the Sharp TU-T2HR32. The main menu is superimposed over live TV and uses attractive hi-res icons and funky fonts. From here you can investigate different types of media or make changes in the thorough setup menu.
It also boasts one of the better Freeview EPGs we’ve seen. This eight-day guide packs a live TV box, a truncated synopsis of the highlighted programme and a seven-channel programme grid into a single screen without seeming cluttered. It looks great and displays a row of handy colour-coded short cuts along the bottom. You can hit the ‘i’ button to see a full synopsis, hit the yellow key to search by keyword or hit the blue button to group channels – doing the latter helpfully allows you to single out the HD channels.
Select a programme block, hit OK and a dialogue box asks if you want to record the whole series, a single programme or set a reminder – exactly the sort of recording simplicity users are looking for, and an example of the user-friendly, no-nonsense onscreen design that runs through the entire operating system.
Elsewhere the Media key on the remote is a gateway to all your content, whether it’s recorded programmes, stuff squirreled away on USB stick or on a networked PC. The clear, user-friendly screen layout and the ability to switch between the different types of content and storage devices using the yellow and blue keys makes it an absolute breeze to find your content.
If you select the ‘HDD Video’ part of the media menu, the box lists your recordings using static thumbnails alongside the programme details. It’s clear and easy on the eye, and when you select a programme you can choose to restart or resume playback. Here you can also rename recordings or create a new folder and dump a group of recordings into it.
As for the onscreen info banners, they’re by far the best of all the Freeview HD PVRs we’ve tested. Aside from its jazzy appearance, what’s most impressive about Humax’s display (which they’ve dubbed ‘iPlate’) is that it provides every last detail about the selected programme, using small, colourful icons and large text (see picture). It can also be used to browse the next seven days’ worth of programmes on any channel, which is a very useful feature.
Rounding up the other features, the Humax can transcode HE AAC to Dolby Digital and offers Dolby Digital Pulse output, a broadcast audio codec that adds Dolby metadata to the HE AAC core. It also offers subtitles, Audio Description, interactive services and digital text, 720p, 1080i and 1080p upscaling for SD and HD channels and pause/rewind live TV, with five search speeds and a useful timeline to show your position.