Product Type: Humax set top boxes
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Humax Foxsat -HDR
Member Name: independentlady
Humax Foxsat -HDR
Date: 18/10/10, updated on 19/03/12 (750 review reads)
Advantages: does so many things, picture quality is superb, low power standby, silent, & is small & attractive.
Disadvantages: lack of some popular channels,can't record in time shift mode,instruction manual poor
Satellite HD Digital Television Recorder
~~Why did I buy it?~~
I have had various recording devices, including videos, a DVD player/recorder, & a freeview with hard drive & DVD recorder which was excellent when it was working but was so unreliable it went back within the first year & was considered unrepairable.
As my area was changed to Digital in May 2009 & my TV then was analogue I struggled with a small freeview box for a few months then decided to buy something worthwhile for all jobs required.
One of the reasons for choosing Satellite was that I thought the reception would be better when not having to come through an aerial. Actually now we have Freeview HD TV, I realise that the Freeview reception is perfect (our aerial is in the loft so not affected by wind etc), whereas the satellite signal often comes up with a banner saying 'no or bad signal' & the picture breaks up a bit briefly when it is windy or snowy.
I chose the FreeSat mainly as at the time it was the only way to record & receive in HD.
As I didn't have an HD ready TV, this put me in the unusual position of being able to receive HD but not to view it! Mostly people have an HD ready TV and no way of receiving HD unless they have Sky+HD box.
Now there is a Freeview HD Box, but not as yet an HDR.
I have since purchased a new TV which is actually HD reception through Freeview, not just HD ready, so I now have everything as we are in the area to be able to receive HD Freeview.
There are not a lot of channels broadcasting on HD at the moment but we can now receive channel 4 HD as well as ITV & BBC.
Only drawback to that is I can now see everyones wrinkles & spots etc! Every little blemish shows up! But on the plus side of that, you can even see the blades of grass on the HD picture!
~~Where did I buy it?~~
I purchased it from Richer Sounds, as that is our retailer of choice for these kinds of things. They have one price in the shop & another on their website. If you arrive at the shop & quote the price you have seen on their website they will match it. They also claim to match any price you have seen on any other website as long as the item is in stock etc. Also, Richer Sounds insurance is an exceptional one in that it is cheaper than everyone else is plus if at the end of 5 years you have made no claims on it, then you apply for a full refund.
The cost of this Humax model now is £229.95 from Richer Sounds
Or £266.99 from Amazon
~Description, setting up & appearance~
The box is white background with blue pink & various bits of other colour & tells us it contains
Humax Easy Digital
HD digital TV recorder
Satellite HD Digital Television Recorder
Twin Tuner HD Recorder
Freesat HD and SD channel recording
Simultaneous viewing of one channel whilst recording another channel
Ability to pause and rewind live TV
Massive 320GB HDD
One touch recording
DOLBY digital plus
DV3 (Digital Video Broadcasting)
Digital mark approved product
Lots of other things down the sides of the box which I will describe as we go along.
The picture on the box shows the appliance as having a swathe of blue across it, but in actual fact it hasn't got this. I got the impression from reading reviews in different places, that the front is either blue or lights up with a lot of blue light. Disappointingly this is not the case - as I have a thing about blue lights!
The Humax box is attractive. Smaller than I expected (Actual size 38cms wide a 5cms high) in black, with a blue light about 2 inches long (not round) for when the appliance is turned on & a red light which takes the place of the blue one when it is turned off (this is actually in standby so that it receives the TV guide & any software).
The appliance is well protected inside the cardboard box with polystyrene packing & polythene bag etc. You will find quite a few leads, instruction book, warranty, remote control etc.
HDMI lead is included, but you will need various satellite cables & connectors & of course a satellite dish if you do not already have one. If you have previously had SKY you will already have most of what you need, otherwise dishes & cables etc can be bought very reasonably on eBay. It's a very easy job to install the dish & cables etc if you or anyone in your household is fairly handy.
We previously had SKY about ten years ago but not SKY+. This means that we had a single cable set up. After going up the ladder to look at the old Sky dish, my son deemed it still in working condition although a bit rusty! He then set about connecting the leads that came into the house with the new leads & connectors & into the back of the box & so to the TV.
The instruction booklet tells you that you will need twin cables as this has a twin tuner. As this would necessitate buying a new dish & double or quad LNB in my case, we just wanted to get it fixed up quickly the same night we had brought it home from the shop, as a temporary measure. Instructions are shown of how to set up a loop through system with a bit of extra cable, so that you can use just one cable from the dish set up which is what we did. I fully intended to buy the necessary extra equipment to do the job properly, but as my son never seemed to find the time to either order the stuff or to come & do it for me, I continued to use the loop system (more on that later).
~~Experience of use~~
The booklet tells you how to do the first installation, basic operation, etc.
You can set at various resolutions. When we had the old analogue TV we just had the Humax set at 576i but now we have the big LED HD TV we have changed the Humax to 1080i which gives really great results.
There are two ways of channel detection/tuning
We tried the one which found over 400 channels! Most of these however were channels we would never be interested in.
Also, we found there are various things you cannot do if you have manually downloaded the channels, mainly to do with recording the easy way using the programme guide. I can't remember as it was a long time ago, but I think they may not have appeared on the programme guide either.
We then scrapped all of those channels & started again using the postcode method which is very simple & self explanatory. You put your Postcode in when it tells you & it automatically finds the channels for you. These will be the most popular that it seems able to find & is much better than the manual method. Unfortunately there are lots of channels which I would like to have & that I can find on Freeview, but they are not available on this satellite system which means you can watch them if you have Freeview TV, but are not able to record them unless you have additional means of recording.
You can do software updates by pressing the menu button. There are auto software updates & I also receive emails from Humax telling me about new updates. Occasionally when you switch the box on you will see a pop-up message inviting you to add new channels or delete old ones.
There is a media list of things you can do such as Video, Radio, Music, and Photo.
You can record of course, even record radio, and store your music and photos.
I tried a Thomson box a couple of years ago & it was so noisy I couldn't live with it. Everyone that came into the room remarked on it. It was just the same in standby & could only be quietened by turning off at the wall so of course the programme guide couldn't load. It went back to the shop for a refund & they were not surprised!
After this experience I made enquiries of everything I looked at as to whether it was quiet or not.
I am delighted that this Humax box is as near to silent as it's possible to get.
There are so many settings, parental controls, ethernet port, subtitles, auto turn on & off, as well many more and varied functions & I would be here all day describing them & you reading them, but if you are seriously interested you can find most if you look up the model online. I have outlined the most important features & my experience of using this Humax box which will give you a good idea & I think you will find useful if you are thinking of buying one.
The ON/OFF button shows as red when not in use. By not in use, I mean you are not watching anything. If you are recording, it will still show as red unless you are watching as well.
It is easy to watch TV through this box. In fact I rarely watch straight from the TV, as with this Humax box you can pause & rewind.
You are able to use two channels. i.e. you can watch one & record another, or you can record two at the same time. There is also the ability to watch a programme you have recorded while recording another two.
I thought I would not be able to do any of this while using the loop through method but I was wrong. At first I found there were certain channels which would not work while another was in use, thus I could only watch or record one channel. After trying out various things I made a great discovery. Now this is a bit technical & I'm afraid I can't remember the terminology, but basically, various channels run on the same or different wavelength or some such thing. This is how I discovered you have to be a bit selective in order to achieve certain things if you have not got the twin tuner double cable & LNB set up.
I found that if I had set recording for example on ITV1 West Country, it would not allow me to record or watch BBC 1 West Country at the same time. But with trial & error I discovered that if I set the BBC programme to BBC1 Scotland which doesn't make any difference if you are watching Eastenders (but may do if you want to watch the local news of course) I could record both ITV & BBC at the same time! Or you can record BBC1 West Country & watch or record ITV1 London at the same time. Clever eh?
This means that even with my single cable loop through, I can watch or record nearly everything I choose by fiddling around with either HD or the different regions. There have been very few occasions when I have wanted channels where this has not worked & in those cases I have looked up when one of the programmes will be shown next (easy to do) & set the recorder for that time. If there are two programmes you are recording & you want to record Eastenders as well, you can record it at 10pm on BBC Three for example. If you want to watch a third programme while you are recording two other programmes you can always use the Freeview on the TV at the same time & leave the Humax box to do its own thing with recording the other two programmes.
I have now decided there is little point in buying & fixing all the extra equipment as I may be moving anyway.
This also means that if you live in a block of apartments where you can plug in satellite/Sky into a fixed wall socket (most were built & set up/put into the walls of the building before the advent of SKY+ so won't be twin cables) it is unlikely you will be able to have twin tuner set up to the older communal dish, but you will be able to manage by the means I have described.
There is a display box on the front which lights up & shows symbols for various things. While recording is taking place but you are not watching anything, the display box will show the time & a symbol which shows you it is recording. If you turn the box on to watch a programme live, it will display the channel you are watching. If you are watching a recorded programme it will display the name of the programme. Both very useful & something you don't get with Sky+.
When everything is off, the lighted display is off. You can also set it to a low power consumption, which uses less than 1W when in standby.
There is time shift facility. Curiously in the index it calls it Time shifted recording & playback. I find this a bit confusing. I know that in order to be able to time shift, pause & rewind, it has to record all the time on a buffer, but you are not able to record the time shifted section. If you try to start a recording from the place you are watching, if it has been time shifted a pop up message will come up to tell you there is a choice of either continuing to watch from that point or moving to real time to record.
The programme guide covers eight days & you can press the info button to see all about any programme you may be interested in. Just press the record button if you would like to record any programme during that 8 days.
One of the most useful features is the Series Link. This means that when you find a programme you either regularly watch or want to record the series of say 6 documentaries or dramas, when you press record it will ask if you want to record one programme or record the whole series. So if you like Casualty say, you set it to record the whole series, it then will record every episode of Casualty for you. If you are out & have forgotten it's on, then you will come home to find it's recorded for you. It is also very clever in that it knows if the programme has been moved. So if there is a sporting event on & Casualty is on later or if that week Casualty is on Saturday & Sunday for a double story, it will record both episodes as & when they are broadcast.
All series link programmes are automatically put into a file labelled with the name of the programme. So if you have not got around to watching Casualty for a few weeks, you just go to the file named Casualty & you will find all episodes. You can sort your recorded programmes using several different options. There is Time, date, or channel number. The whole list of recorded programmes is listed in alphabetical order then the files with series linked programmes come into this alphabetical order but you click into the file & the programmes will be sorted according to your choice i.e. if there are 6 programmes in the file, I will have chosen that they be displayed in date recorded order. Under all of these series link files is a list of one off recordings.
Incidentally I have never missed the start or ending of a recorded programme. But you can select start & end times if you wish.
The remote control is in piano black, glossy & smart. Some people have complained that this shows all the finger marks but I have not found that it does. I think the remote control could be improved by having a lit up facility as my TV does, as often I am trying to find the right buttons before I have turned the lamp on in the room. It does everything else that's necessary and is easy to use.
Most functions are self explanatory using the remote control, but a few are not easy to work out & the instruction book leaves a lot to be desired with some things. In fact there are things I have only found out how to do by looking up reviews & comments left by users on Humax & other sites. I have printed out some of these & keep with the book so if I need to do something that I haven't done for a long time I can look it up easily.
One of these things concerns File Manager. You can move recorded programmes around in & out of different files & you can create new files. The book doesn't tell you how to do this but someone has worked it out & posted it on the Amazon site which makes it very clear. I won't put it here as it's of no interest unless you have the box & are trying to do it!
Humax do have a good Customer Service team. If you phone or email them with something you can't find in the instruction book they will answer & tell you how to do it.
The volume control has also been criticised by some & I can see why, although it is OK most of the time. It doesn't seem to work with the TV volume as you would expect. Some programmes you feel you would like to be a bit louder yet you are on the maximum volume. If you turn up the TV volume sometimes it works, but it's not easy getting the two to work in unison to give the desired effect! If you have an HD channel on or have recorded one, it is much louder than the other channels so you end up turning it down, but that's not the fault of Humax. I do have a surround sound system which I believe works really well with HD, but have not managed to set it up properly yet with the box.
There is a mute button on the remote control which I find handy if I am on the phone.
You can look up a list to show which programmes are scheduled to record. If some are on series link it will only show the next actual episode to be broadcast, but after that one has recorded it then shows the next & so on.
While on that page, you can press the blue button which will enable you to 'find' different showings of certain programmes, either repeats or the next episode. This can be very useful if you have missed a programme or want to set the recorder for the next one.
I recently had the first bit of trouble I have encountered since owning the box from last Christmas. Things were not always recording & a few other things were not quite right.
I phoned Humax Customer Services who will send someone out to you if there is a fault that needs fixing so that you don't have to parcel it up & send it to them. I think that's a good service. Anyway, I told them what was wrong & they suggested I do a factory reset. It tells you how to do this in the book. It was even easy enough for me to do without calling on my son! It did the trick & all was well afterwards. I shall remember to try that in future before I phone for assistance if anything goes wrong.
If you record films (or any programme) that you may want to keep & store, you can plug a USB pen into the front of the Humax & transfer to this, then onto your computer, then onto a blank DVD.
There is an advertisement campaign on TV at the moment for Freesat. My comments on it would be as follows:
Yes it is free once you have bought the box, & works exactly the same as SKY plus which can run away with you in monthly costs.
BUT although they say it receives hundreds of channels, which it does if you manually search, they are mostly foreign or adult ones, but it does not record the easy way if you have done this, as I have already mentioned.
If you auto search/tune the channels using the Postcode method, you will find there are quite a lot of popular channels missing that you would get on Freeview. Off hand I can think of Sky Three, Yesterday, Dave, Virgin 1, Fiver, and Sky News. There are quite a few others that you might regularly watch on Freeview or Sky that can't be got on free Satellite. You do get a few foreign & adult channels but not nearly as many as with manual search. With radio stations, you can't get the local ones unless they are BBC.
The picture quality is superb, razor sharp outlines & excellent colour, when used with an excellent new TV of course, although it wasn't bad with our old analogue TV.
I would thoroughly recommend it.
Update 19/3/2012 - I have now moved into an apartment & the communal dish & wiring is only set up for Sky pre Sky plus, so only one cable again. I am still finding I can manage by jiggling which region I am watching to a certain extent. Although not perfect I manage with this.
I am finding that it's supposed to start automatically when a programme starts & ends, but recently this is not happening if a programme starts late for example, it cuts off the end. I have set the end time to always be one minute longer but the beginning alwats starts early as well. I think I need to reset the factory setting which usually sorts out most faults.
Would still thoroughly recommend this, but for my own circumstances I would buy the same make Humax but a Freeview+ model next time. Would also go for 500GB rather than 320GB which I find not quite big enough.
Summary: All singing all dancing FreeSat HDR I can thoroughly recommend.
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