I had previously been using my PC's TV card to watch and record Freeview programmes but in order to schedule recordings, I had to leave my PC on all the time, which I don't like doing. To combat this, I decided to get the Humax 9200TB Freeview PVR (Personal Video Recorder). This is sort of the Freeview equivalent of a Sky+ box, letting you record programmes to a HDD (Hard Disk Drive), like you would find in a computer so there's no more need for video cassettes or even DVD-Rs. Mine has 160GB of hard drive space which gives me 100 hours of video with this device. There are other Freeview PVRs with larger capacities but I thought that this was sufficient for me as I would delete items that I've watched.
One requirement for me was for the box to be able to tune into more than one channel so that I can watch one channel whilst recording another, which would require twin tuners. The 9200TB meets this requirement and also enables me to record two channels at the same time. It cost me £160 around July 2008 but should be found for less now.
Setting up is the same as many other Freeview receivers and has a scart output. A TV aerial is also required and as usual, an external or booster aerial is recommend to ensure the programmes don't skip all the time, which I've found very frustrating until I bought a booster aerial and moved it to another part of my room. With a good reception, it's excellent and I find the machine itself is very intuitive to use. Once tuned, changing channels, adjusting the volume, going into the various menus and changing the settings is very easy to do. The navigation around the menu system is quite quick although not quite instantaneous as I do feel there is a very slight delay before it responds. When watching a programme, the Humax actually records, as it goes along, which enables me to pause and even rewind live TV. I find this invaluable as it means I can always rewind back to TV or film moments that I've missed from not paying attention or if I need to pop to the loo.
The remote feels very robust and I really like the quality of it. Nothing like the cheap, low quality ones that come with cheap DVD players and it has all the buttons needed in a well laid out way to operate the Humax easily. It has a slide down section with even more functions such as PIP (Picture-In-Picture) and my personal favourite, 'commercial skip', which just skips 30 seconds ahead but I've set this to jump 60 seconds on each press. All other buttons are on the top. Most buttons are labelled with either text or the common icons so it is very easy to use and with the ones with less commonly used icons, it's easy to figure out by trying them.
Scheduling recordings is very easy. One thing I would have liked is for it to accept Video Plus codes. When VCR's were 'in', I used to use the Video Plus+ codes, which I would find in a TV guide, to schedule recordings of specific programmes as this was easy and more convenient than entering a start and finish time. Unfortunately, the Humax 9200TB doesn't seem to have an option to enter this code for recordings. I can only either choose to record the current programme on the channel I'm currently watching or choose a programme in the EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) but this is hit and miss, as I can't always find the programmes I'm after easily.
Quite often, the EPG schedule doesn't display all the programmes on certain channels and even the search function doesn't find programmes that I know will be on in a few days, but other times, it works like a dream. I do not know if this is to do with the reception strength or something. However, when it does work, I'm able to choose to record the chosen programmes even individually or I can choose to record the whole series, which I think is great, as it saves having to scroll from week to week in the EPG, or clicking on multiple items in the search results.
So when I want to watch my recorded programmes, all I have to do is press MENU on the remote, select RECORD option, Recorded Programme and I'm presented with a list of the recorded programmes. In my case, we have Smallville, Big Bang Theory, Sex: How to do Everything.....err how'd that get in there?! .... >_>;;; Anyway, recording works well, but there have been occasions where some programmes were listed in the Recorded Programmes list but with an extra icon. Turned out those were either not recorded or incomplete. These incomplete recordings were due to the hard drive being full but there have been other occasions where it was due to poor reception. Occasionally, I've found it had stopped recording before the programme had ended (which is irritating) but this can be countered by telling it to record a few minutes longer after the programme has ended in the settings (although it would do this for all scheduled recordings).
Like all Freeview boxes, it can display the programme information, Teletext and a list of channels available. It has a nice feature where it can mark the ones that are only available with a Top Up Card, which it has a slot for. It also has the ability to trim and delete chunks of recorded programs so that you can cut out commercial breaks. However, it's very basic and you're not able to fast forward through the preview so you can't quickly locate the bits you want to remove, which isn't great but it's not essential. I usually just fast forward through commercial breaks.
Although it's not an HD (High Definition) device, the picture quality of the Freeview programming that this machine outputs is excellent on my 19" LG Flatron, a non-HD flat screen TV/ Monitor. As I use it with a non-HD TV, the lack of HD content is not a problem but for those who do want to use it in a room with an HD TV, then the Humax may not be for you. One thing that slightly annoys me is that when watching a programme, if I press play again, it starts again. Sometimes, I press the Play button twice because I thought it didn't register the first time due to the very short delay after the Play button is pressed.
There have been a number of occasions where the machine froze, although it has been pretty rare. Whenever this happens, I have to turn it off and on at the back (or at the mains) to reset the machine, which is rather awkward for me to do due to the confined space with my setup. This can be a bit annoying but luckily, it doesn't happen very often so it doesn't annoy me too much.
The Humax also has it's own USB port, which enables me to connect it to my PC. Once the software is installed on my disk, I am able to transfer file from the Humax to the PC and vice versa, however, I've not had much joy with transferring recorded programmes from the Humax to my PC. For all programmes that I've attempted to copy to my PC, they stalled part way through the transfer, which is annoying. I did manage to get one file copied to my PC, which plays in Power DVD in the .TS format but quality isn't great. It also supports pictures and MP3 files and although MP3s play fine, pictures aren't very good quality when it brings them up on my TV. Opening pictures that are around 1.5MB in size take about ten seconds each, which isn't very good so using it for uploading and showing off your family picture album is not ideal.
It has four built-in games, which are all puzzle based games, which you use the remote to play with. One involves a cute little dinosaur pushing an egg around an obstacle course, which I quite like although I'm sure I've played such a game before on a handheld console of some sort. I believe all the games are copies and rebranded versions of more popular puzzle games but that's not a problem as games isn't what the Humax is for anyway and I seldom play the games. As well as games, it also has the option to play the radio through the TV.
- Reliable recording
- Pause / Rewind Live TV
- Twin tuners for recording two channels
- 100 Hours of recording
- Plays MP3
- Can Crash
- Transferring recorded programmes to PC doesn't work
- Edit function a bit limited
- Photos are slow and bad quality when copied to the Humax
My initial impression of this device is that it was a Freeview box with a hard drive and recording capabilities but I have found it to be a lot more. I really like its ability to pause and even rewind live TV and the ability to watch one channel whilst recording another as well as recording more than one channel at a time. Navigation is easy, has lots of functions that you may expect such as Parental Controls and it can even play MP3s. I can highly recommend the Humax 9200TB or the 9200T (silver version) although the 9200TB (black version) does need dusting more.
Although transferring the recorded programmes to a PC would be a bonus, it's not essential as my main reason for buying it is so I don't miss programmes any more. It'd be great if the EPG was a bit more reliable and if it never crashed but these are only minor niggles and nothing that would stop me from buying the Humax again unless I was after something with HD output.
Thanks for reading!
I ordered Sky+ back in December 2007, but due to our home being located on a listed road, we were unable to install the dish :( This resulted in us canceling the order, and the hunt for a hard drive freeview box began.
We first spent £80 on a another HDD freeview box, and the quality was terrible and that was returned the following day.
I read a couple of reviews on the 9200TB, and couldn't find many at the time. I played around with one at our local Comet store, and loved the menu. It's very much like Sky+, with a 7 day guide, the option to pause and rewind live TV.
So, I took the plunge at £200 and purchased this in store.
Wow! It's fantastic, there's one feature I LOVE on this box, that Sky+ can't offer, and that's the search option. Type in the full program name (e.g. Prison break) or simply type some of the characters (e.g. brea) and it will display all programs available over the next 7 days matching your search string. Saves time when looking for a program that you can't remember what channel it was on, or what day.
It has a HUGE 160gb hard drive, enough for 100+hours of high quality recording, I've never got close to 30hours, as you tend to record and watch it within a few days anyway.
To pause live TV when the phone rings is magic, which means there is no need to ignore your friend's calls again ;)
The remote is a little bulky and ugly looking, but I use a universal remote for all my AV equipment so mine has been hidden in a closed draw.
The TV guide takes aprox 10minutes to load up fully after being switched off, which can be anoying when you need to record something first thing in the morning. I've set mine to switch itself on at 7am, before I awake.
It has a twin tuner which means you can either record 2 programs at once, OR, record 1 program and watch another.
On the front of the box, hidden behind a flap, there is a USB uplink slot, this gives you the option to upload your recorded TV to a PC or laptop, fantastic if you've recorded something worth archiving(family or friends 5mins of fame on Deal or no Deal?)
Overall this is a fantastic freeview box, and I haven't looked back.
I have, and will reccommend to my friends and family.
I recently bought this freeview player as my old one packed up and I am so glad I did!
The Humax 9200TB is a basically a freeview player that has a built in hard drive. For anyone that has ever heard or used Sky + then this is exactly the same thing.
Firstly if you were to look at the box itself then it is certainly something you will easily forget. It is a big black square box essentially! It is not overly attractive at all. On the front you will see numerous buttons which let you change channel as well as pause live TV. There is a display on the left side of the box which shows the time and what channel you are watching. To the right of the machine is a flap which houses the card reader (for Top Up TV). On the back are the usual sockets with the noticeable absenteeism of a HDMI socket.
The remote control is also very ugly. It is quite big and is one of these remotes where the bottom half slides down to reveal more buttons. The majority of the buttons you will use are on the main bit of the remote but there are some nifty little ones on the panel area. Button are all positioned fairly simply and in no time you will get the hang of it.
So the main feature of the box is the fact that you can pause and record live TV. This is done very easily! To pause TV all you need to do is, shock horror, press the pause button! The way the box works is that it is constantly recording so you can just pause TV and press play again when you are ready. Recording programmes is very simple as well. All you need to do is go to the guide, select the programme you want to record then hit the OK button. Depending on the programme, you may then be asked if you want to record the whole series or just this one programme. This is very handy for ongoing series which you may miss here and there.
In order to watch programmes you have recorded it is a bit of a mission. You need to go to the menu, choose the recorded menu, go to recorded programmes and then finally choose what you want to watch. It would be better if they had a dedicated button but its not too much of a big deal to be honest.
One of my favourite things on here is the ability to watch one channel and record another which means that its even more difficult to miss the prime time shows! I believe it is actually possible to record 2 programmes and watch a third but I havent tried yet.
One of the things I wanted in my freeview player was one which had a good guide. I wanted one where it would show the TV channel and say what was now and next. I know this is generally a common thing, but I have come across a few freeview boxes which just give the channel number. Luckily for me this one is ok. When you select a channel it says what is on now and you can see what is next by pressing the right arrow. Not the easiest way but its fine for me. One thing that does annoy me is the fact that every time you turn it on it takes a good couple of minutes to fully populate the guide. Not too much of a problem for me as mine never really turns off but still annoying.
I paid about £120 for this player from an auction site and it was refurbished. I think they go for about £150 brand new. It's a lot of money, and its an ugly machine but it does its job really well!
Having read lesmo's reveiw I just thought I'd add my comments.
First let me state that I do not own this machine, but my father in law does. I had purchased a Sony DVD Recorder/DVR/Freeview tuner which the father in law liked. However he did not feel the need to have a machine that recorded DVD's, so after some research via the internet he narrowed his choice down this Humax machine. He ordered it from an online retailer who's name I do not know alas and paid £110.00 for it.
When it arrived I popped round to his house to have a look and as I arrived he was starting to install it. I have to admit it was literally a case of connecting the cables and switching it on and robert's a male realtion!
The system set up the freeview quickly, picture quality is brilliant and the features are so easy to use. the father in law was really suprised how quick an easy it was to master and for the price you could not do much better.
Humax Duovisio PVR 9200 TB
I had been looking for a Freeview H/D recorder for a few weeks, as there are a few things that I required it to do, it took a lot of looking.
Easy recording with an EPG (Electronic Program Guide), fast forward and of course rewind, subtitles recorded with the program, in fact everything that a Skybox can do.
I looked at a number of Top Box Sets and tried two, a Thompson, which did not seem to receive a signal and a Sagam, this had problems with the sound and setting the timer for series record.
A number of reviews highly recommended the Humax (which also has very good reviews with their WS Televisions). What Video- best buy, SVI Trade winner 2008 among others.
I tried to buy at various local electrical stores but the price was around £179 or not in stock, so cheapest at the time on the net £158 inc. P.P. VAT with next day delivery (excluding weekends) from CWDigital. Around 12pm today it arrived, took it out of the box and a quick 2 minute read of the manual, fitted the aerial plugged it into the mains, switched it on and in seconds it started sorting out the channels within another 3 minutes it asked me if I wanted to save, I clicked yes and that was it, channels sorted, time correct, soooo easy.
The machine is a Humax Duovisio PVR 9200 TB
In addition to receiving Freeview channels the Duovisio can also receive pay TV channels with the use of a CA module and topup card although this is all extra, you only need it if you want pay per view channels. There is a very good EPG which gives 8 days listing ahead and a one touch recording, padding can be put at the front and end of programs to allow over running of program times the only problem is, unlike the sky box which saves the EPG on the harddrive the 9200 does not which means when you switch it on, then you have to wait for quite a while before the listing is fully populated. As a PVR (Personal Video Recorder) Duovisio has a built-in 160GB hard disk drive, which allows up to 100 hours of recording including the Radio stations (which the Sky box cannot do) and as there is a USB link for your computer you can upload and download films, video, mp3, and photographs and built in menu allows you to pick which you require to play. Slow and fast forward, slow motion is * ½, ¼, 1/8 Fast forward is up to *64 times. It even has 4 built in games for those times when there is nothing to watch. Up to date software can be down loaded to your computer or from the airways via the arial. Live programs can be paused for when the phone goes and press play when finished and it starts again from where you paused it. You can record 2 programs at the same time and watch a pre recorded program at the same time. Records subtitles with the ability to view or hide them during playback. One more feature is the PIP (Picture In Picture) as it has twin tuners, it can produce twin pictures on any television, one can be the main full screen with an insert of another channel or split screen with equal sized screens.
On the back are twin scarts, Arial in, loop out, on/off switch, video and audio out, it also has a 5.1 Dolby optical output so sound should be excellent, a RS-232c port and a cooling fan, that is very quiet.
The remote control is quite large 2inch * 9inch but it can do a lot of work apart from the buttons you can see there is also a slide down piece at the bottom of the unit which exposes even more buttons these are the "trick buttons" PIP, Games buttons etc. but it feels quite chunky and should last and there is a two year manufactures guarantee on the set top box.
There are a lot of other things that the Humax offers but I feel that I have covered the main points and from the short time I have had it feel that it offers all that I required, is well made and looks very smart it is also available in silver.
I bought a set top digibox from Top Up TV. Its a Thompson DV3 Digital terrestrial treceiver and recorder.
This box is a similar size to the Sky boxes but more sleek in design. It has a nicely shaped, curved front and comes in dark gray and silver.
This boxes plugs into the mains and you attach your TV aerial to it. You need a modern aerial that is capable of receiver Channel 5 if you want to get good reception on digital. Reception is excellent in many areas of UK but it is poor in areas such as parts of Carlisle and West Cumbria and where ever there are large structures between the aerial and transmission mast. This is being addressed at present and by the time analogue TV is turned off, the signal should be good no matter where you live.
I bought my original box from Tesco because it was £20 cheaper than the ones from Top Up TV, but when it arrived it had a software fault. Tesco refunded the money. I bought another from Top Up TV at a cost of £89. With that I got two months free service with Top Up TV.
Top Up TV is a service which downloads 120 hours of TV per week to the box and stores it until you want to watch it, or it expires (6 days.) You can choose which channels you want programmes from, like Discovery, Animal Life, UK Gold, TCM and lots of others. You also get a selection of extra digital programmes like UK Gold (from 5pm), UK History, CI, Disney, etc
You choose the channels but not the programmes.
This is great value for £9.99 per month with no contract.
There is a slot in the front of this set top box which allows you to add on other entertainment services like Top Up TV. The box stores the downloaded programmes in its library.
The box itself can record up to 180 hours of TV. This is all arranged in a library of programmes which you can access simply by going to the menu. Deleting programmes you have already watched is also very easy.
The main thing that attracted me to this set top box is its one button record facility. You simply press the record button to save the current programme, or go to the TV and select what you want to record on the timer.
The other great facility on this box is fast forward up to x64 for recorded programmes and the ability to pause live TV. This is really useful if you are watching something and the phone rings, or someone comes to the door. Press one button to pause live TV and press again to continue. You can pause for up to an hour.
This is a really useful piece of equipment and simple to use. There's no messing around setting timers and dates. I don't know how I ever managed without it. I am not much of a TV watcher but now I can set my box up to record the programmes and series that I do like and watch them when I have time.