* Prices may differ from that shown
The video recorder is not quite dead but is certainly not very well. Ours was relegated a few years ago to only being used to play tapes we'd already got, and this only because we didn't want to spend money replacing the kids' favourites with DVDs when they would only be watching them for another year or two. Our main reason was simply that we could never find anything we'd recorded, at least not without playing every single blank tape first. The impending digital switchover was the final impetus, so we finally entered 21st century entertainment by looking into options for a digital recorder.
After much soul and wallet searching we plumped for a Humax 9150T. The sheer poetry of the name won us over, or maybe it was the second cheapest on the market, I can't remember which.
In appearance it is a squat black rectangular shiny box with a digital display. As it nestles almost out of sight underneath the TV its looks are of no real consequence and I include them only for completeness. It connects to the TV (which obviously must be digital, and have a SCART socket) through a SCART lead. Another SCART socket allows a connection to the almost redundant VCR so that tapes can still be played without having to connect or disconnect anything - this was one of the features we actually wanted, and it works well. It connects to the outside world through the usual RF aerial and picks up freeview channels.
When you first switch it on there is a certain amount of setting up to be done. The manual takes you step by step through the process and we didn't have any difficulty in following it. The longest part of the process is the channel search, however this is mainly done automatically - you set it going and leave it for ten minutes or so for it to detect the available signals. We've had to redo this a few times over the years, usually because the transmission frequencies get changed, once or twice just because it seemed like a good idea. We are in a pretty dodgy area as far as TV signals go, so don't get a huge number, but this still amounts to 30 or so, including the 5 main ones and, vitally, CBBC, as well as a whole bunch of radio channels. Once the list is showing you can go through it and delete any you don't want (shopping channels, for example) so you are not obliged to see them all the time.
The machine is operated almost entirely with a remote control which has a bewildering array of buttons to press. Luckily most of these can be ignored if you, like me, have a simple brain wanting to do a few simple things: record programmes and watch them later.
Selecting a programme to record is straightforward. If it's on at the moment, you can just press a record button - very handy if the doorbell rings or your dinner starts burning whilst you're in the middle of watching something interesting. You can continue to watch it after a few minutes as it will carry on recording whilst playing from where you'd stopped. Alternatively pressing the Guide button allows you to navigate around future programmes, pressing select means it will be recorded. If it's a series a dialogue box will pop up to ask is you want to record the whole series or not - a very useful time saving feature, though not without its problems (see later). You can record two programmes simultaneously, and could even watch a third in real time - though I don't think there have ever been three things worth watching being broadcast at the same time.
Watching them is equally easy: press the Recorded Programme button, select the item, press play. Easy peasy. It even remembers where you had got to and carries on from there, if you hadn't watched something all the way through - useful for films. There are the usual fast forward (up to x64) and reverse options, so skipping ads is easy. It has a 160Gb hard disk, enough to store a large number of programmes, though it's wise to delete those you've watched so it doesn't actually fill up.
So far, so good. It does everything we want, and could do more - parental controls, for example - if we wanted. However, little in this life is perfect, so what problems have we come across?
Firstly there are one or two minor niggles. If you choose to record a programme from the guide it often seems to start recording a few minutes late. This often isn't an issue, as you only miss the opening titles, but sometimes you miss the very start of a film. You can, when you tell it to record, change the start and end times to compensate, but it is annoying to have to remember. There doesn't appear to be anyway around it, by resetting the time or anything similar. Worse, if it is a series you are recording it won't let you change the start/end time for the whole series.
Secondly, when replaying, and especially if you pause it, the sound and picture go out of synch, not often, but occasionally. Sometimes this can be sorted out by rewinding a bit and trying again, and it usually gets back into synch after a couple of minutes if you leave it, but it is irritating. Have I Got News For You is particularly prone to this for some reason.
Finally, when a programme, usually a film, is broadcast over more than one slot - for example being interrupted by the News on ITV - the second half doesn't always get recorded, even though it should in theory. But if you try and record the second half separately anyway it wont always let you!
The other issue we have is not to do with the technology but with how we use it! The kids, as kids do, have a number of favourite shows. Well and good, but they have a tendency to instruct the machine record the series. As these are often broadcast every day, and simply start again from the beginning when they get to the end, the hard disk, in spite of its generous capacity, fills up with vast quantities of the Simpsons, Dani's House, Dani's Castle, Splashalot, Deadly 90, Big Bang Theory and so on and on and on. Someone then has to spend ages going through and deleting them (squirrel like, the kids never delete anything themselves, just in case...) to free up space. If anyone has any suggestions for dealing with this, please let me know! A somewhat related issue is that people delete things you actually want to keep, if there was a way of labelling recordings that would be nice.
In summary, would I recommend this? Yes, I would. The technical glitches are relatively small and harmless, and compared with the faff of tapes, there is no comparison. It wasn't hugely expensive when we got it, but it has all the features we were interested in, is easy to use and has been reliable over the course of several years. No doubt there are better models on the market, but so far this has served us very well.
It's just a shame there aren't more TV programmes worth using it on!
So Humax, the workhorse of set top box recorders in the U.K, the respected Korean brand dominating the market as digital TV became compulsory here. After being forced off VHS recording because of that shift (a method I was perfectly happy with!), I never really enjoyed the switch to recording on to disc (or, indeed, watching rental films on disc) my recordable DVD player recently becoming obsolete during the staggered switch off because it was analogue and so time for an upgrade. I had no idea there was any such thing as analogue only DVD recorders, until I bought a bloody SONY. Since then I have been making do with borrowed kit for my recording needs. But with Blockbuster likely to go under before Christmas its time to go to hard-drive and start building up some movies to watch in January and February when I can't rent any more. I just don't fancy mail order movies and my TV is twenty years shy of downloading Netflix or the like. Sometimes you miss that train called progress. I don't even go to the station. Receiving a Blockbusters disc in the post and it's an older one that is sure to jam in the player is not my idea of fun, why VHS was better. Video tape rarely jammed and you certainly didn't have to trawl though the dreadful special features, the occasionally good audio commentary the only DVD plus for me. I like durable. I still have tape cassette player to listen to music on the go.
My PVR 9150T Humax Hard Drive twin tuner recorder (Freeview only) is a funny one. You really have to roll your sleeves up if with these guys to stay friends. It's an old model with an excellent 160GB storage and split screen novelty but still advertised on their website as a model you can still buy new, odd considering it's nearly ten years old. Humax admit they are older models but unusual for a company to clear old stock this way, especially the Grade A reconditioned ones in the mix. They offer a free one year warranty and the Humax PVR 9150T retails at £69 on site, excellent value for what it is. 160GB is 100 hours of TV recording, some 50 films.
Good spec aside for seventy quid new there's a problem with Humax in general in the U.K., and with many other brands of set top boxes, hard-drive, and disc or receiver models. Anyone who has an older player will know all about this. Even models as late as 2011, the end of the final region switch over, are having issues. These problems are to do with the ever increasing number of channels available on Freeview and that company constantly force-feeding our set top boxes, the special high def channels causing the most problems. The older boxes are simply not able to deal with 100 plus channels on their chipsets. Humax have spent a lot of money firing out on air firmware to update all their players and the problem still not fixed. Many other models and brands have had to do the same. The Freeview website lists what updates are currently available for the various models and when update will go out, if you are interested.
With my Humax box I had trouble from the off after buying it from the website, a 'Managers Special Pick' no less! The firmware was out of date, simple as, and the box kept freezing up. It says in the instructions that it can store up to 200 channels. I'm not buying that. Humax advises consumers to leave the model on standby overnight or when you are not using it so it can download the updates. This is normal practice for all models as this is where they get TV listing data from, f you didn't know. The Freeview signal does a lot more than just send telly. If you guys are having trouble then ***LEAVE STANDBYE**** on overnight.
To get it to stop freezing up I simply had to delete all the channels I didn't use and now stick to around twenty-five in total. We know there is a lot of junk on there so why not clean them up. It's rare that I wake up in the morning wanting to buy diamonds or watch Arabic news TV. This means the box is happy with the workload and starts to play ball. At one stage when I first got it I had to switch it off at the back every time I changed channel, not good for the hard drive. But I am a determined chap and like to fix things myself and always trawl the various technical sites and message boards for solutions, where I got the tip to clear out as many channels as possible. I also learnt that Humax had not broadcast a Freeview firmware fix for this particular model since the spring. The hint something was not quite right with this model was the serial port for a null modem on the back, an industrial method to upgrade kit at the factory. It's not new enough tech for USB and so the only way to talk to the hard-drive to upload new kit on mass would be that way, a bit like the way robots and androids are giving new data when they plug that thing into the back of their heads and run diagnostics. I think Humax new that their machines would not keep pace with new channel volume. I have the kit and the instructions to manually update and if you are a fellow Humax user then watch this space. If my kit goes wrong again I'm going to have to do a complex procedure where I download the software/firmware fix from the website. Very few laptops and netbooks have null serial port connections, a USB adapter required.
It's a twin scart model so you need a scart TV to use it. It will run alongside a scart DVD player for your rentals. The recording options are twin tuner so you can watch one program and record TWO other ones at the same time, giving it the edge over disc recording. What you can't do is lend out your recordings like you could VHS and disc, of course. There's a cute serial recording option here where it lets you record all of a TV series by simply pressing two commands and the Pause live TV option certainly ahead of its time on this models launch back in 2004. There is an interface for Pay TV but maybe out of date now. It records subtitles from foreign TV movies and shows and able to remove the subtitles when you playback. Chase Play enables you to watch a program from the beginning whilst still recording the end although unsure why you would want to do that if you are watching it there and then. You can also kick in a replay during your AV viewing, the Humax player putting you back where you were in the show when finishing the replay. There is a full manual panel on the box as well if you lose the remote and Humax are fine with replacement universal remotes.
* Freeview+ PVR with accurate recording & serial recording
* Twin Digital Tuner, can record 2 channels whilst viewing a third
* Pause live TV and rewind live TV
* One touch recording from 8 day programme guide
* Tape-less record and playback (Max 100 hrs on 160GB hard drive)
* Common interface slot for Pay TV (needs card and CAM)
* Automatic software update, to ensure the latest digital features are available
* Records subtitles with the ability to view or hide them during playback
* Auto-padding ensures you never miss the beginning and end of a programme
* Chase play enables you to watch a programme from the beginning whilst still recording the end
Single button live pause and play during A/V watching (Time shifted Recording)
Instant Replay and Skip during A/V watching
* One touch sound scheduling in EPG information
* Digital Radio Recording/Variable instant recording
On the whole it has been a struggle to get this thing up to speed. I suspect many a hubby or boyfriend has been pulling their hair out over it as the misses nags them to fix it. I suspect it would have been better to buy a reconditioned model as the firmware issue would have been dealt with. It's a shame as its good kit for the price and for what it can do and no doubt top of the range kit about ten years ago. The split screen and live pause were revolutionary for this type of home player and hard to fault its extras. It's nice and sturdy with a metal box and frame to give it weight and stability and not too many flashing lights. Those plastic Goodmans set top boxes can blow off the top of your telly if you leave a window open!
If you need help with fixing the freeze ups don't ask the website as they aren't answering. Hit the chat rooms or message me or dooyoo guide Graham T. Nothing in life is ever perfect.
These sort of boxes are great for those of us who cannot afford the luxury of Sky, Virgin etc. It is essentially a digital box with video recording ability. It has 160MB of hard drive which equates to roughly 100hours of recording time
Setting up is fairly straight forward, once you've got it connected to the aerial, plugged in, and switched on, the box does a automatic channel search. You do need to do the occasional update when new channels are introduced, but the box will remind you if essential updates are necessary. The controller is pretty self explanatory. You have the normal up and down buttons for the channels, but also you have "list" which comes up with a list to the side of the TV screen, and lists all your channels, which you can scroll up and down using the arrows and select with "OK" button. Another useful button is "guide" which allows you to see a TV guide so you can see what is on ahead of time and select anything you might want recorded. You can even search programs so you can ask it to record something that is not on for a week or so for example. Another button you may find useful is TV/Radio which switches the box between TV and radio, which I find great when I just want some background noise, and you have a great selection of radio channels that you wouldn't get on a normal radio.
Now for the negatives, the box is great, when it works as it is supposed to! We do have the odd program it doesn't record, despite when we check it, it is definitely set to record. And vice versa we have the occasional random program that is recorded but no one has selected to record it! I would recommend a Humax box, but maybe check reviews for the newer models, they may have resolved some of the problems that we have, as ours is a good 5 years old now.
I got bought this as a gift for my birthday mainly because my partner had sky and didnt like the fact he couldnt record the TV at mine. At first I found it hard to remeber I could rewind pause and record and didnt really use it. However now i use it every day and often record a lot of my favourite tv programs. I found this works well with my TV a LG and wasnt hard to set up atall. The menu is very easy to follow and understand. The remote is equally easy to use and doesnt have to many buttons which can make it confusing. The quality of the programmes recoreded are of high standard and I dont have a main outside Ariel attached only a household plug in the back.
When you need to retune it does this fast usually in 5 minutes, I can also add parental controls i dont need that option at the moment however will be useful in the future. It has a schedule feature which means i can see what i have due to record which is useful because i dont have to flick through and check. The volume that you can record on the box is good as well and often i have films and series on there, I usually delete programmes off once a week which recording a programme each day.
I only had 1 problem with my box which was when it stopped recording series links and i had to record individually however it was an easy fix which was solved by restarting the box.
Overall i am very satisfied with my freeview recording box. Easy to use, virtually problem free.
I have never yet known any gadget or appliance of mine fail at a time convenient to me, but always at the very moment I choose to use it, i.e when all shops are closed, helpful family members or neighbours are asleep or on holiday and emergency call out fees doubled.
My Samsung video recorder was no exception to that annoying law akin to 'Sod's Law' whereby any appliance belonging to me will malfunction at the most inconvenient time possible.
It was a Friday night, when my Samsung decided to retire permanently, demonstrating very clearly its intentions by chewing the tapes and playing tug-o-war as I tried to eject the cassettes... not a pretty sight.
Saturday came and anxious to have a recorder in place to record programmes I would otherwise miss, I visited my favourite, local dealer Protec, to inquire whether my Samsung VCR was repairable. Once the symptoms were relayed, a sharp intake of breath from the dealer, told me all I needed to know, the prognosis was poor.
Having purchased items from them before, I knew that all the electrical equipment they sold were of good quality. Better still, if I had any difficulties setting up any set or gadget, they were always willing to help (free of charge) so it will not surprise you that I came away with a Humax personal video recorder and a feeling of relief.
For a change, I did not try to get the price down from £158, even though the price of these recorders new, range from £120 to £160 from various outlets, such as Currys, and Amazon, for I knew I was paying a little extra for their good will and valuable assistance should it be needed.
~~~~What was in the box~~~~
The Humax recorder with mains lead connected.
One scart lead... to add to my ever increasing collection.
One remote control.
Two AAA batteries.
One comprehensive 72-page user manual in English.
Length: 35.5cm, width: 24.5cm, depth: 5cm. Weight: 3.0kg
Power consumption: 26Watts, maximum; and minimum, whilst on standby, 0.9Watts.
At the rear are two scart sockets, one that connects to the TV via the TV scart lead and the other a VCR scart port that connects to any other VCR or DVD using the supplied VCR scart lead.
Also a RS-232C socket connects to the PC to update software.
Two RF sockets, one for the TV aerial and the other for TV/VCR using an RF cable
One on/off switch.
The remote is rather unusual, in that at the bottom it has slide down cover, which hides a few additional buttons, which are not in constant use as are the usual buttons on most remotes. More on those later.
The Humax PVR-9150T Digital Personal Video Recorder.
Since I was only used to video recorders using tapes, and unfamiliar with the new (to me) technology of recording programmes on hard drives, I wondered at first, how a recorder would work without my slotting in either disc or tape. Then it dawned on me that my CCTV system does just that, and of course, so will my PC.
The setting up of the Humax was a breeze, all I had to do was disconnect my recalcitrant VCR and connect the Humax, each socket was labelled and the user's manual easy to follow. I did phone Protec to check that I could still use the Humax HD system set up previously.
The TV scart went from the TV into the socket labelled TV on the Humax, and the aerial and other leads into the appropriately labelled sockets, all of which were also shown diagrammatically in the manual.
Once the cables, leads and power were connected, all that remained to do was to flick the on/off switch at the rear of the box to on and power on. The Humax automatically then searched for and stored the channels.
The most useful feature, for me, is the guide button, whereby on pressing it, the programmes for each channel are listed, along with a brief description of the programme and time of showing, so by scrolling through the channels, it is easy to see and select programmes.. rather like looking at the TV Times magazine. Although, having said that, there is often a delay in the programmes being listed beyond an hour or so viewing. The programme showing at the present time can be selected just by pressing the central OK button, then a small Picture-in-Picture (PIP) appears on screen and if it is a programme of interest, the "exit" or "back" button is pressed and the picture becomes full screen.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was no complicated setting up of timers when wanting to record a future programme or a series of programmes. By using the guide button, the programme selected to be recorded is highlighted by the OK button a menu appears asking if the single programme is to be recorded or the series.
I also like the fact that two programmes can be recorded simultaneously whilst watching another and that there will be a brief, on screen indication of when each programme recording is starting.
Best of all though, I can save up to 100 hours of recordings before having to delete a programme and that I do not need to watch them in the order they were recorded, but select from the recorded programme list which one I wish to view.
The other advantage of this system over video tapes is that when selecting a programme to be recorded; if that programme is a part of a series of programmes a choice will be given, either to record the current programme, or the current one and the rest of the series.
The buttons, I mentioned that are under the slide down cover, allow different options for example one button will bookmark and save a current viewing position in a recording, another button will display the bookmark list. Another useful button will play recorded tracks in slow motion. There is also a commercial skip button so that whilst watching a recording the commercial can be skipped by the press of a button, rather than fast forwarding.
There are five fast forward speeds x2, x4, x16, x32 and x64. The speed will increase each time the FF button is pressed. However if the fastest speed is selected to skip a commercial, it is likely to skip past the beginning of the next section of the programme.
At the end of each recording the screen returns to the list of recordings, where you can delete the programme, if you wish, and/or select the next to view.
I also like the fact that when I wish to stop viewing a recording part way through, when I next select to watch the remainder, it will automatically start at the point it was halted.
I am very pleased with all the options I have with this set-up when I compare it with the other methods I have used in the past to record programmes. There is no danger of tapes breaking, being chewed in the recorder or running out before the end of the programme.
I can select and view without the hassle of rewinding, or fast forwarding. I can bookmark sections so that I can return to it without fast forwarding or reversing.
Of course there is always a down side to everything, and for this, it is the fact that I cannot lend a recording to friends or families, as I often would do when recording on tapes.
On two occasions, and I am not sure why, it did miss recording a selected programme, It was in all probability my own fault, for the television needs to be left on standby, for obvious reasons and I may have inadvertently turned it off at the mains, or there might have been a mini power cut.
Other than those two blips in 5 months of use, I have had no problems at all.
I have since discovered that if, when watching a programme, the phone rings, I can put the programme on hold as if it were a recording, then resume watching the programme, when ready again.
The Humax PVR-9150T is absolutely fantastic and does exactly what it says on the tin.
Boasting a 160GB HDD, the box is able to hold a high volume of programming as well as series link your favourite shows, making life so much easier when you're a very busy bee!
The Humax PVR-9150T has a Twin Tuner, enabling you to record a programme, whilst watching another. And the really great thing about this PVR, is that you can record TWO programmes simoultaniously, whilst watching a third (although some channels don't allow you to do this - more on that later); which means prime time TV will never be missed again!
With this box being released prior to the power swing of HDMI and Freeview HD, this box only contains a Scart socket and Freeview SD, but that isn't a problem as there are only 4 HD channels available on Freeview currently, so there isn't that much of a loss here.
The only thing I found with this is that when recording two programmes at once, a lot of other channels become locked, which is down to the tuner not being able to cope with recording two programmes and watching another on a different frequency band. However, the main channels, such as the BBC's are still accessible. The trick here is if you have Freeview built into your TV (any LCD screen from 2007 onwards) then you can simply switch back to the TV's freeview, whilst recording two progammes on the PVR - Problem Solved.
I will say that on this model and the PVR-9300 too (They use the same remote), the route to find your recorded programmes is somewhat tricky, especially for the technophobes out there. You have to press 'Menu' then go into 'Recorded Programmes' and then find what you're looking for, which for a lot of people is a bit fussy. Other than that, the layout of the remote is absolutely perfect, with big buttons and great feedback (stiff and responsive), this PVR really stands up there with the best on the market.
The only cons here are the lack of HDMI Port and the fiddly way of finding your recorded programmes.
Well Done to Humax. 9/10
I was looking for a good replacement for my sky+ box and after a lot of research and price matching I decided on the Humax 9150t. It has ample storage for all of your favourite soaps and comes at a decent price. The menus are as easy to navigate as my sky box was and offer similar functions such as series linking and recording timer. It also has buffer settings to give your self extra time at the start and end of each recording just in case shows are not running quite to schedule.
The quality of the picture is good through the built in freeview and the remote control has all the buttons you need. Live pause-fast forward and rewind function as it should and there is a handy little bar at the bottom which represents the point in the programme you are viewing. The TV guide allows you to scroll through and find the shows you want recording and as it's a duel channel you can record two programmes at once.
If you're looking for a digital TV recorder I would recommend any of the Humax range they have been proven time and again and are a good choice over some of the higher priced recorders that do the same thing.
Now, I hesitate over writing this review since I am in no way equipped to speak about the technical lingo and capacities of this humax PVR- 9150T freeview + box, or to give it it full name: Humax PVR - 9150T Freeview Playback Digital TV Recorder 160GB Twin Tuner. So, I'm afraid those looking for technical babble will be sorely disappointed, and mine will be somewhat of a basic review of the product and whether I think it merits good value for money.
Upon buying a new TV during the Christmas, we also decided to splash out on a freeview + box as well. Now, my husband is in no way technical either, and so we knew we needed some advice about freeview + boxes in general and what we should be looking for. Not far from our house is a very reputable local trader who we have bought from previously and whose advice we trust, and it was through that company that we discovered tha Humax, a previously unknown company to us, were one of the biggest sellers when it came to freeview + boxes. He explained that for what we were looking for (which was the basics: suh as wanting to record a programme whilst out or busy and recording one programme whilst watching another), the more basic of the humax boxes, namely the one we ended up buying would be suitable, recording 100 hours of television.
Unfortunately our local retailer was a little on the expensive side on this occasion, and after looking online, we found this box for £119 on dixons website (prior to the VAT increase). Before we purchased, I tried to read up about the box, and found that although the majority of reviews were favourable, there were those who cited several flaws of the product, incluing the fan noise and slowness of the guide coming up, two things that weren't hugely important to us, and so we went ahead and purchased our humax freeview + box.
When the product arrived, my husband went about using the instructions to install it. Now, I must make this claer, and I mean no disrespect to my husband, but if he is able to install this within a short space of time, without any issues whatsoever then this really is a simple product to get to grips with. I just watched as he went through the programming, which seemed to be very straightforward and you seem to just follow the guidance, most of which comes up on the screen. YOu can chose the channels that you wish to have on your lists, which we thought was pretty good, given that there were a few dodgy adult channels, that we ditched, and thus gives you control of what you want/censor particularly if you have children in the house.
It took us a little bit of experimenting to work how to get the proper guide list up, and then my husband had a trial run at recording a programme that was coming on. We watched it afterwards and found the picture quality to be excellent and it recorded the entirety of the programme without any hassle. We also have since recorded one programme whilst watching another with great success, and have paused the programme live whilst we went and got a snack one evening. It is a little bit of a novelty at the moment, and we are having to get used to being able to record programmes at the drop of a hat, without having to rely on tape recorders or bbc iplayer to get caught up. I doubt however that we will be recording up the maximum of 100 hours of tv, but it is useful nonetheless, particularly if you are recording an entire series, which we hve not done as yet, but for which the product has the capacity to do.
I have noticed however the fan noise which is obvious when you first turn on the machine, however within 5 minutes this has stopped, and in fact, if there is any noise in the room whatsoever, it isn't even audible, so this really is not a problem at all in my eyes. THe fan is not prolonged and even if it were, I doubt over the noise of the TV it would be a disturbance either.
In relation to other criticisms of the slowness of the electronic programme guide, I would have to concur. At times, after switching it on, you do have to wait a few minutes before the guide lists all the programmes available, but so far (fingers crossed) it will always load within a few minutes and bring up the necessary listings. We dont find it a major problem, but if you are in a hurry and you want to set a programme to record, the delay in bringing up the guide can be frustrating. Then again, you are only paying just over £100 for something to be as good a sky plus, I don't think we expected it to be absolutely perfect!
All in all, if you are looking for a way of avoiding the cost of SKY plus, but at the same time getting the same benefits, such as pausing live tv, recording whilst watching tv etc, then this is a much cheaper alternative than sky, with a one off payment for the machine. THe machine itself is quite sleek and is by no means an eye sore. For just over £100 I think it is tremendous value for what we want, rather than bothering with VCR's or BBC iplayer. Hopefully we will continue to enjoy the product, but so far so good!!
I bought one of these for my mum several weeks ago because of the digital switch over that will be taking place in our area next year. My mum is not a very big electronics wizard, but any chance I get to play with something new and I'm straight in there! My mum is very much a person who just watches one channel, ITV, and she needed one of these to make sure that she is ready for the switch over and doesn't miss out on her "soap fixes". After thinking about what her requirements were, and reading several reviews that listed Humax as one of the best on the market, I decided to buy her this box because it will give her freeview after the switch over, and it has a built in recorder so she could throw out her old video recorder.
* Freeview+ Box with Simultaneous viewing of one channel and recording another channel
* Simultaneous playback of previous recording and recording of 2 channels
* Up to 100 hours of recording on an integrated 160GB HDD
* Picture In Picture (PIP) for viewing 2 programs on 1 screen
* Pause & Play live TV (Time Shift Recording)
# Main unit
# Remote Control Quick Guide
# SCART Cable
# User's Manual
# Quick guide
When the digital switch over comes people will have to make a decision about what format they decide to plump for. I have satellite, and so there is no worry for me. My mother, on the other hand, was still stuck using her old analogue television with 4 channels (she couldn't even get channel five in our area). She told me about leaflets she had gotten in through the door informing her of the switch over next summer, and she was worried about losing her television channels, in particular her soaps on ITV. After reassuring her that there was nothing to worry about, I told her that for her needs she would be better off with freeview as opposed to satellite or any of the other options. My mother only watches one channel mainly, and she only switches to another when there is football on. After agreeing that we should buy one with a built in recorder because she sometimes isn't in to see her programmes, we decided to take the plunge before the New Year and the VAT hike. In our area the freeview signal is very weak, and my mums analogue signal can't even pick up channel five. At least, we agreed, if we buy the box now and it doesn't receive a signal she will be set up for the summer switch over. It turns out there was absolutely nothing to worry about.
Setting up the Humax couldn't be easier. You simply remove it from the box, plug it in, connect up your aerial and scart lead and then enter the main menu where you are given the option to scan for channels automatically or manually. I opted for automatic search and sat back, expecting to receive no signal at all. How wrong I was; it picked up many channels. The search took several minutes, but it produced a number of channels and radio stations that we aren't even meant to pick up in our area yet. After the channels had finished being scanned you are given the option to save the channels and then go to the first one. It couldn't be easier. If you require, you also have the option to delete channels that you don't want, such as the shopping channels or the encrypted channels.
After setting up the box we found that the freeview signal was very strong with the Humax. My dad, who has a freeview television in the kitchen, was annoyed because his television only picks up some of the channels and the signal during bad weather, but my mums Humax picked up all the channels in all weather conditions. After a lot of laughing about the situation I sat down to go through the main features of the box. The freeview signal is excellent and the picture is brilliant. It's better than watching some satellite channels. Immediately I got around to playing with the recording features. I set it to record the channel I was currently watching and then switched over to another channel. It worked straight away with no problems. I flicked thorugh several channels to see if they were working, too, and they were. I started recording a second channel and then went to play the beginning of the first recording while it was still recording. This all worked out perfectly, too. So far so good. I stopped both recordings and then watched them back to see that they recorded fine, and they did. My mum is still to this day confused about how you can record and watch something you've previously recorded at the same time; she's never been much of a gadget head and has only experienced VHS tapes.
The sound from the Humax is very good, and you shouldn't notice any problems with this at all. As it's connected to the television through the scart socket, there is no hassle with cables running all over the place. The volume can be adjusted via your TV remote or the in-built volume of the Humax.
Picture quality is excellent and everything you would expect from a digital signal. There is no interference, or snowy lines, and the only times we have any drop out of signal are when we run the Shredder (located near the television) or if the weather is a little jumpy. This is probably due to the fact that our area hasn't had the switch over yet, and so just the fact we get a signal at all is a miracle.
The built in hard drive holds approximately 100 hours of recorded footage. For my mum this is far more than she is ever likely to use, even if she never deletes anything. I have found that I use the recording capabilities myself to record channels available on freeview, mainly to free myself from having to record them on my satellite box which can occasionally have problems with clashed programmes. Recordings are very clear and smooth and look almost as if they are live pictures, although you can sometimes tell that it's a recording because of a slight lag in some scenes, but this is very rare and shouldn't ruin your enjoyment of the programme.
Recording is easy to do and requires only the push of a couple of buttons. Pressing the record button while watching a programme results in the current channel being recorded from that point. Pressing stop halts the recording. I'm not absolutely sure if the recording keeps going until you press stop or if it stops at the end of the current programme, because most of my recordings are done from the guide. To record from the guide you simply select "GUIDE", use the arrow buttons to find the channel you want to record and the programme you want to record and then press "ENTER". In the recording settings you have the option to record the programmes "ON TIME", meaning that they will start on time and finish on time, this also means you can record a whole series with the click of a button. However, I have found this to be quite useless because the recordings generally miss the first minute or two of a programme and sometimes the end. Therefore, I have set the recording options to start 3 minutes earlier, and end 3 minutes later. The only time this could be an issue is if a programme overruns considerably, but so far there have been no problems. Recordings can be set to start/end up to 10 minutes early/late.
To access recordings you either enter the menu system and select "RECORDINGS", or you can access them via one button on the remote. I find the second option the easiest and quickest. If you have stopped a recording half way through, the playback will return to the point you were last at. It's possible to sort programmes by Name, Time Recorded Ascending, or Time Recorded Descending. The default setting for this is Time Recorded Descending. The playback screen shows the channel, the start and stop time of the recording, and the name of the recording. Once viewed, a recording can be deleted simply by pressing the red button and selecting "YES".
PiP (Picture In Picture)
This is a feature that I wish my satellite box had. You can view two channels at the one time on this Humax box, although only one channel produces sound. This is handy if you reach an advert break and wish to scan through other channels while keeping an eye on your own programme returning, or if you are watching two sports channels and want to keep an eye on both of them. You have the option to watch one channel full screen with a little box for the second channel, or you can watch both channels side by side. With one button press you can swap channels to watch. When watching one channel full screen you can move the little box to different positions on the screen (top, side, bottom etc.)
Time shifting is a very handy feature for those who might get interrupted during their favourite shows or during a live event. Basically, you can pause the "live" TV picture and playback from exactly where you left off. Personally, I have never used this feature much on my satellite box, and so I don't think I would use it much on this Humax box. If, however, you like to sit down and watch live TV at night and get regular phone calls or knocks at the door, you will find this feature very useful. When you get to advert breaks you can fast forward them and eventually you will catch up with the actual live recording. If you wish to go straight back to the live TV at any point, you simply press the stop button.
The supplied remote control is necessary to use the full features of the Humax. It's a very nice size and doesn't feel too large in your hand. There is a sliding section at the bottom that reveals several more buttons, including the PiP and Instant Replay buttons. I usually find these kinds of remote to be very annoying; why can't they just put all the buttons there without a cover? However, the Humax slider can easily be removed and replaced without fear of breaking it, and so this is obviously something they have thought about.
This box features many things that I wish were a part of my satellite box, and considering this box does not require a monthly fee, it's certainly worth the money if you just want freeview and the ability to record. However, freeview lacks the channel selection that I require and therefore it wouldn't suit someone like myself. For my mum, though, it's perfect. If you are only interested in the main five channels, and perhaps ITV2 and BBC News, for example, then this box would be perfect for you. I honestly struggle to find any way to fault this box. The only thing I can think of to mark it down on is the fact that setting recordings to start and end "ON TIME" results in missing parts of the programmes, and that is not acceptable. Many other recorders start and end when a signal is sent to the box. Perhaps this box is the same and it's the fault of the channel providers who aren't sending the signals on time, but that is enough to put me off it just a little bit. For that reason, and for that reason alone, I am giving it 4 out of 5.
The Humax PVR-9150T is a Freeview+ enabled hard-drive recorder which grants the user the ability to pause and rewind live TV. As it's a twin-tuner model, the device can record two channels at once whilst you watch another - impressive! Now a few years old, the 9150T is available for only £119 from Amazon - a price-tag which represents great value for money considering the quality of the product. The 160GB hard-drive may not sound like a massive amount in this day and age, but in practice it allows the recording of a respectable one-hundred hours of television. For those of you interested in a larger recording capacity, the Humax 9300T (which I also own) is *basically* the same machine with a 320GB hard-drive.
Constructed from black aluminium, the PVR-9150T is a pleasant looking recorder featuring elements of silver trim in the design. A hidden section covered by a hinged flap at the front of the unit houses a CAM slot, providing the option of adding a viewing card for additional pay services like 'TopUpTV'. Around the back of the box are a couple of SCART sockets and the aerial inputs. The remote control (which uses two AA batteries) is well made and comfortable to hold, with all of the buttons located in easily accessible positions.
Straight from the box, the Humax is easy to set up, and will automatically scan for channels once the power has been turned on and the SCART and Aerial cables have been connected to the television. Like the majority of modern set-top boxes, the 9150T features an Electronic Programme Guide ('EPG') which is accessed via the 'GUIDE' button on the remote. The guide spans eight days, and includes a search facility which allows the browsing of programmes by genre. Unfortunately, the EPG can take a fair while to fully load when you first switch the box on (sometimes up to fifteen minutes) which is a slight annoyance.
Setting the machine to record is really easy - all you have to do is press the guide button, navigate to the programme's title and press the 'OK' button in the centre of the remote. There's also a series-link function which allows you to automatically record every episode in a series. If the recording function has a weakness, it's the fact that it doesn't have a PDC function - meaning that if a programme begins late for some reason, the box won't realise, and you're likely to miss the show.
As well as the basic functions that you would expect from a device of this nature, the 9150 has a number of other fancy features which make it a pleasure to use. Firstly there is a Picture in Picture (PiP) viewing mode, which allow you to watch two channels at the same time on the same screen. And there's also four built-in games to play should there be nothing of interest on TV - to be honest, the games aren't all that impressive, but at least the option is there.
It's pointless to review a digital box and not comment on the picture quality, and i'm happy to reveal that the Humax 9150T really delivers the goods. When connected to your TV with an RGB SCART cable, the image is colourful and sharp, without any evidence of ghosting. The box's main downside is the fact that it can occasionally 'freeze' - basically crashing before requiring a restart. Luckily, this doesn't happen all that often and generally doesn't detract from the quality of the box as a whole.
At the end of the day, the Humax 9150T is a great Freeview+ recorder which is easy to use and pleasant to look at. Yes, the annoyances which I have highlighted in the review can be slightly frustrating at times - but I honestly believe that it's the best recorder that can be purchased for the price - recommended.
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Size: 360 mm x 50 mm x 245 mm
Weight: (Net) 2.9kg
Aspect Ratio: 4:3, 16:9
Video Resolution: 720 x 576
Audio Decoding: MPEG / MusiCam Layer I & II
Audio Mode: Single / dual mono / stereo / joint stereo
Video: RCA/TV SCART/VCR SCART Video Output (CVBS, S-Video, RGB)
Audio L/R: RCA / TV SCART / VCR SCART Volume and Mute Control
Input Voltage: 90-250V a.c., 50/60Hz
This is the second box of this kind we've had. The first lasted little over a month before failing to re-boot next morning after being shut down at night. We sent it for repair, but it was deemed unrepairable and a new one was sent. We were advised that this might be due to switching all our appliance plugs off at night. We're an eco friendly house hold so being told that we need to keep plugs on at night was not something we wished to hear. In spite of this we accepted the replacement and the best part of a year it was very good.
However, we've recently started to have some issues. While it is very user friendly, with a great menu and guide section, we've had some recording problems.. From time to time if you are not watching the recorded program you can get skipping and errors on play back. I'm pretty sure this is not an aerial issue as I've been watching the same channel before hand and it has been perfect, it just seems to be when you move away from the recorded channel to watch something else. I've also found errors on the record timer occur when I've changed by TVs av channel and I cannot for the life of me justify how that can be as the Humax box operates on a scart that is left completely uninterrupted.
These problems can range from being mildly irritating to down right frustrating, with this weeks less than perfect recording of the Dr Who finale being the last straw - I'm starting to look around for something else, though I'm in no hurry. I also doubt I'd find something with such a great memory, which has to be the box's finest asset.
This is our second freeview plus box, the first one we had, had to be sent back, it was a lesser known brand. We went for Humax, as it is the big player in the freeview market at the moment. The box looks good, it's unobtrusive, with clear indicator lights for statuses. The menu's, epg, recorded programmes, etc is easy to use, but isn't entirely intuitive. For example, when you are selecting a recorded programme, you have to press play, then press exit out of the menu to watch the recording, which isn't usual. It has twin tuners, so you can watch one, and record the other which is great. The video quality is really good, but the frustrating thing is that it does occasionally freeze which stops the recording and you have to switch it off at the mains and reset. It has 160gb hard drive, which is more than enough to record a lot of programmes. It has the series link option which is enables you to set a whole series to record. Sometimes it hasn't recorded a scheduled recording which is very frustrating and we aren't entirely sure why!
I was given this freeview box as a present after I was left bereft when my original one (different make and model) broke. I have been nothing but pleased with this machine - although it has a very similar spec to my last machine it is much more reliable.
The main features are:
* being able to record two channels simultaneously, whilst watching a third programme from your 'saved programmes' list OR recording one channel and watching another
* TV Guide available for the next 8 days
* being able to save up to 100 hours of recorded TV
* being able to pause and play live TV
The set-up of this box was dead easy. You plug it in to the relevant points (TV, wall sockets etc) and when you turn it on the machine guides you through the set up which is mostly just pressing 'ok' for programme search. This only takes a few minutes and then you are good to go.
It's worth reading the manual before you start to use the machine to make sure you are getting full use of the box. I didn't and only discovered a few months later by accident that it has got games on it as well (the controls for which are on the main remote, but sneakily hidden under a panel). It's easy enough using the main functions - you go into the TV Guide to find the things you want to record and just select 'ok'. It then asks you if you want to just record one episode or a whole series. You can then view all of the planned recordings in the 'planned recordings' section. If it looks like there might be a clash of recordings then the machine will tell you so and you can select which programme to delete.
For my money, one of the best features of this machine is that it picks up transmitter signals from TV programming and starts to record when the signal transmits, and stops recording when the signal stops. This basically means that it will always start recording for the start of the programme, and will always stop when it ends. Only on a very few occasions has the last minute or two of a programme been missed. This system is better than the one I had in my old machine where it would start recording by 'time' and then you had to record 5 minutes before and after the programme to allow for delays to the schedule.
The box doesn't look anything special - it's pretty plain in truth - but simple can sometimes be a good thing and I don't need bells and whistles to know that something's good.
The machine retails for about £130 in the shops but it is a total investment in my opinion. It's only a one-off payment as well, which is better than signing up to a monthly subscription service.