Picture quality is generally impressive but far from perfect. Hi-def broadcasts on the BBC HD channel look magnificent, boasting masses of detail and a wide range of rich, vibrant colours – best demonstrated by clips of the Beeb’s beautifully shot wildlife programmes. Movement is smooth with minimal pixel noise and clean edge definition helps the image look crisp and forceful at all times. In a direct comparison with a Sky HD box, there’s very little difference in quality between the two, making this a superb way of getting hi-def channels.
Upscaled standard-def picture quality depends on the channel, but more often than not it looks quite ropey. BBC One, for instance, looks fairly clean and sharp, but ITV1 and some of the music channels look soft and noisy. All of the channels suffer from a little pixel shimmering here and there and there’s some ringing around edges, but a lot of this is down to the quality of the original broadcasts and none of it really spoils your viewing experience anyway.
As for sound, the inclusion of Dolby Digital output is a real boon when watching BBC HD, as you get full-on surround sound, the quality of which is superb. But if it’s not linked up to a home cinema system then stereo sound from the HDMI, SCART or analogue outputs is clean and audible.
If you’re interested in getting Freesat then we really can’t recommend the FOXSAT-HD highly enough. It’s incredibly fast and easy to use, delivers solid HD and SD picture quality and at £150 it won’t break the bank. Our only criticism is that Humax didn’t come out with a hard-disk equipped model first, but they’re bringing one out later this year. Also disappointing (but nothing to do with Humax) is the limited HD content and lack of certain channels (including Five) but it’s early days and only a matter of time before more channels are added.
How it compares with forthcoming Freesat receivers from the Alba stable is yet to be seen, but judged on its own merits the Humax is a superb set-top box that perfectly shows off the benefits of the Freesat service.
Score in detail