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Humax HD-Fox T2 April 2010

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n www.humaxdigital.com/uk n £180 (approx)

Humax HD-Fox T2 We’ve waited with bated breath for a Freeview HD receiver, but is Humax’s zapper box all it’s cracked up to be? Freeview HD broadcasts began in December from both the Crystal Palace (London) and Winter Hill (North-West) transmitters, but it was mid-February before reception kit was commercially available, and this Humax zapper is the first to arrive. It looks cute but unremarkable, a bit like Virgin Media’s new Samsung-made V+ HD PVR, only dinkier. It’s so compact that the remote control is almost as large. It offers socketry in abundance on the rear. Video outputs, including two Scart, composite and HDMI are par for the course, but the Ethernet and USB 2.0 ports bestow more advanced functionality. Clad in shiny piano-black, the long remote feels more like a TV controller (it can be programmed to work with DVD players and TVs) and has sensibly placed buttons. A prominent TV Portal button hints at Humax’s intention to add Web TV apps in one of the many planned upgrades. The T2 packs an apparently advanced dual-thread processor under the hood and proves very slick in operation. The menus have a crisp, hi-res appearance; red button services load almost instantaneously and the EPG can be browsed at speed.

PVR upgrade ahead Channels are accessed from a main list from which they can be sorted into TV, radio or HD (currently there’s only BBC HD or a simulcast ITV1 HD from which to choose) or recently viewed and listed alphabetically or numerically. Up to five favourites lists can be created. The eight-day EPG has hints of the Freesat guide about it and carries a rather large Freeview HD logo in the top left. The current programme runs in a window on the right and beneath this is a grid of data for nine channels with two-hourly chunks visible at a time. You can skip day by day, view guides for TV radio or HD-only channels and (very quickly) search for programmes by keyword or those within nine preset genre options. The EPG and manual timer can also be used to schedule 100 events with once, daily, weekly, weekday and weekend repeat options years in advance. The programme information bar shows broadcast flag

data and can be used to browse eight-day data for the current channel and what’s on others without needing to switch over. As there are only two terrestrial HD channels available at the time of going to press (BBC HD and ITV HD), £180 seems a lot – but those two PC-oriented inputs give the Humax more worth as it’s also a capable media streamer. Connect it via Ethernet to your home network or plug in a USB hard drive/flash stick and it can play XviD, MP3 and JPEG files remotely, using a simple interface. The HD-Fox T2 will be capable of receiving BBC iPlayer when it arrives on Freeview HD. Another update will enable PVR-style recording to external drives as a twin-tuner Humax Freeview+ HD PVR is expected to arrive later this year. Picture performance is solid all round. Standarddefinition broadcasts can be upscaled to 1080p to look great. Obviously, the source material has its faults, and no amount of Vaseline can gloss over those, but given good bit rates, the Humax provides a tasty offering. Some argue that HD broadcasts are hamstrung by the quality of feed offered by the Beeb et al, but if this is your first taste of hi-def content you won’t be disappointed. Humax tells us that the minimum requirements for HD reception are 30 per cent signal strength and 100 per cent quality. We failed to get a picture in some Central London locations on anything lower. Audio performance also benefits from a more advanced chipset. The most obvious improvement over the receiver’s standard-definition peers is the ability to output 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtracks (as on BBC HD) via the HDMI connection to a capable AV receiver n Rik Henderson

Verdict This Freeview HD box it ticks all the boxes for picture and audio performance and ease of use, but even that wouldn’t be enough to justify its hefty price tag were it not for its media-streaming talents and the promise of free upgrades – notably the PVR functionality – in the months to come.

Features Freeview HD: Yes MHEG-S: Yes Teletext: Yes EPG support: 8-day DVB UHF modulator tuning: None Card reader: None Timer: Up to 100 events Software upgrade: via Ethernet Video outputs: HDMI, composite, 2 x Scart Audio outputs: Analogue stereo HDMI (Dolby 5.1 enabled)

Ratings PLUS

n Excellent video upscaling n Easy-to-use interface n Media streaming

Minus

n Fussy on HD signals n Filetype support is limited n Best features yet to come

Build Setup Searching Performance Features Value

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83%

April 2010  What Satellite & Digital TV  2


Humax HD Fox-T2