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I purchased the Humax 9200T PVR (Personal Video Recorder) about two years ago, for the bargain price of £160, online. It's revolutionised TV watching, it's been so useful to be able to record programmes and watch them when you fancy, and to rapidly fast forward through adverts, or pause when the phone or doorbell goes.
I chose Humax because of all the good reviews online and especially because of its ease of use, it's definitely simpler than a lot of other models and brands I've tried to use over the years.
It's a super stylish looking set, smaller than the average top-box/recorder, in a nice shiny silver. It's very minimalist with just a few discrete buttons on the front of it and a barely there screen displaying what you are watching/recording.
The initial set-up was a bit complicated, after plugging it in you have to go through a lot of steps before it will even begin to pick up channels. The manual is pretty helpful for this however. One annoying problem is the fact that it is pre-programmed for conventional 4:3 TVs (who has those anymore??!) and so the quality is terrible until you figure out how to set it up as widescreen. However, once all set up if you leave it for 30 minutes it will pick up 90+ TV Freeview channels and many more radio stations, and then you're ready to get watching. The quality is fantastic, audio and visual.
The remote control is nice and simple, with all the obvious buttons on the top half and hidden away under a sliding flap there are about 20 small shortcut buttons. I have to admit even two years on I still haven't ever bothered to find out what many of the shortcuts do!
The guide is easy to access at the click of a button and displays five channels per page, for two hours of their schedule. This is one more channel than the previous Humax model (which I owned before upgrading to this one), and it makes all the difference to not having to endlessly scroll up and down to see what's on. Simply clicking on the programme you fancy with the OK button will record it. You also then get the option of recording the one programme or the whole series. Series link is a really useful feature and although it occasionally gets it a bit wrong (recording every single repeat of an episode throughout the week can get a bit tedious) it's really handy if you're absent minded like I am.
Clicking on a programme and pressing the 'I' button will give you detailed info about the TV programme whether in the guide, live or recorded modes. Simply pressing the record button will quickly record a programme you are watching. The pause and rewind buttons do the same, as up to 2 hours of the current channel you are watching are recorded automatically.
Flicking through the menu options to find the programmes you have recorded takes about three or four steps, but alternatively can be done with one of the shortcut buttons. Programmes are then displayed in descending date order and simply scrolling to the one you want to find and pressing OK will allow you to watch it. Programmes are easily deleted with the red button.
My favourite feature of the Humax 9200T is the find facility. Clicking on find in the guide mode will allow you to search for a particular programme by typing in its title (or part of its title) and all matches in the next week will appear. Alternatively you can search by genre. I particularly like to search the genre 'movies' at the beginning of each week and then I can easily record the ones I'm interested in.
The PVR has 160GB of memory, which is more than ample for all normal viewing. I've only ever filled it up about 70% when I've been away for a while and lots of films have taken up the space. It's never gone wrong, and it updates its software automatically through a wireless connection. Overall it's a great mid-range PVR.
This review also appears on Ciao under my username sbeach000
On a whole this is an excellent PVR set top box. It works very reliably and records a large number of data. I think it is quoted as being able to record around 30 hours of stuff which isn't too bad, however by todays standards the hard drives are a little larger now. This isn't too much of a problem if like me, you record something then when you've watched it you simply delete it, however if you want to keep stuff you rapidly begin to run short on space! The video and recording quality is very good and I have not noticed any drop in quality from TV to recording. The interface can be a little confusing at first to get your head around, with a multitude of buttons and options available to chose from. This is something that could be worked on to make a more user-friendly menu system. However, once you are used to it, it works just fine and you quickly become accustomed to how to navigate through the menus with speed. The click and record which is common now is a good idea, so you can simply be viewing the tv guide, see something you want and just press one button to set it up for recording. More details settings can be changed to adjust just about everything to do with the recording also, so you can make it as easy or as hard as you like! I have not had any trouble with things not being recorded when I think they are, so on this front it is very reliable. It can be a tad slow to start up initially and there is also an audible hum as the hardrive works whilst in operation but you soon forget about this completely.
We bought the PVR 9200T, essentially, as it had been recommended by The Gadget Show on Five (who generally know what they're talking about). Unfortunately though, the box hasn't quite lived up to its reputation.
First, the good points.
The picture quality is actually very good. I think it's noticeably better than my Digifusion box, and actually as good as the inbuilt tuner in my Sony TV. The remote is of a good quality and is very easy to use. Everything is sort of logically laid out, and it feels like it's been built to last. There's a handy USB port in the front which allows you to copy the recorded programs onto your computer. A brilliant idea - every box should have one. I also like the handy display on the front of the box, which tells you the time and the channel you're watching.
Unfortunately, that's basically where it ends. The EPG is has some horrible flaws.
If you switch the box on (i.e take it out of standby mode) and view the EPG, absolutely no information will have loaded. So, you hit the back button and wait a while for it to load, only even after 5 minutes, the box still won't have completely loaded the guide. In fact the only way to ensure that the entire guide has loaded is to switch it on and leave it for 10 minutes before opening the EPG. Horribly frustrating, and something which even the cheapest of boxes can better.
Bizzarely, there's no 'reminder' function either, so I frequently miss the start of programs I want to watch. Very annoying.
Also, hitting 'record' during a program will simply record it from that position onwards - something which I find very annoying. On my Digifusion it'll record it from as far as you've been watching (i.e from the beginning of the program).
And my box is prone to freezing for some reason, meaning that I'm almost constantly having to reach around the back and manually switch it off.
Essentially it's got some nice features, but there's certainly some refining to do.
First of all, let me say that at the time it was bought, this was reviewed as one of the best set-top boxes out there. And when you're coming from a VCR, it really does work like magic.
The EPG allows you to record programs without worrying about programming times, and the dual tuner lets you record and watch at the same time. There are also some highly addicting games on the box, including a bejeweled clone (which is more entertaining than most programmes on TV nowadays!)
There is also a function to download your recordings from the box to archive them. Althought this seemed like a really useful feature, I have to admit that it has rarely been used, due to the temporary nature of most recordings. If you're serious about keeping copies, it's probably best to get a box with an integrated DVD recorder.
So, why three stars?
Well, over time some rather annoying 'features' have come to light. Most significant, perhaps, is the box's amnesia when it comes to the EPG: turn off the box, and all the data has to be downloaded again the next time you want to use it. I've found this can take up to 15 minutes for the more obscure channels like Film4.
My other major problem is with the stability of the unit. Occassionally the box will simply crash. This means that it won't accept any more input, although whatever channel you have on will continue to play, so at least you won't miss anything. The only way to solve this is to switch the unit off at the wall, or via the power switch at the back.
This issue seems to have got worse over time, so I'm not sure if it's down to the automatic over-the-air updates it's been receiving, or whether its old age. Either way, very annoying Humax!
Oh, and did I also mention that occassionally, just sometimes, it will totally forget to record a program? I get the feeling this may be an isolated issue with my unit, but still worth mentioning.
For what it was, it had a great run for its money, but I'm sure there are now better options out there.
I bought this on a recommendation.
I also recommended the machine to someone else.
So we are talking three machines here.
The one belonging to my friend who recommended it.
The one I bought.
The one belonging to the friend who I recommended it to.
One has been back for repair.
Ultimately, all three have been returned for exchange.
These were all bought from John Lewis. When I bought mine I made it clear that it was being bought on the understanding that should there be a problem that I brought it back and the SHOP dealt with it rather than me sending it back to the manufacturer.
I chose John Lewis over Currys as Currys are really bad, I can't put it any simpler than that. Currys do that thing where they say they will deal with problems, then when you take the item back they refuse to do anything, and tell you to send it back to the manufacturer.
Anyway back to the Humax. When mine did break down, as a precaution I rang the John Lewis, warned them I would be bringing it back, and was quickly cut off and told that it had to go to the manufacturer!
After a long conversation with the guy on the phone, I made it clear that I would be bringing the machine back to the shop and that they had better do something for me.
Nothing could have been simpler. Customer services took the machine without a fuss, sent it back and within ten days it was back repaired.
The friend who had recommended it had to take hers back. Lewis's changed it on the spot for the next one up the PVR9300T, but charged her £20 extra.
Same with my other friends, an exchange+£20.
Then my repaired machine went. I took it back and they changed it at no extra charge (the price is now the same as paid for the original).
Be aware the, despite being 'the next one up', the PVR9300T DOESN'T have a USB port.
Right now this seems so far like a review of John Lewis', but the point I have been trying to make is that the Humax PVR 9200T is a no-goer. They seem to break down, and touch wood John Lewis dealt with it.
The problems I had was freezing of the screen, the 'timer' would not stop recording at the end of programs, and crashes, which would be OK after a reboot, but this does not help when you keep losing recordings. Also, after a transmitter update some channels were not being picked up too well, possibly due to a new multiplex being on channel 37, which is just on the edge of the range of some aerials, I thought. When I got the new machine the channel 37 multiplex was fine.
Someone at John Lewis was gracious enough to tell me a lot of these had come back. I appreciate when a shop is honest with me rather than give me some bull. For their honesty I will be going back to John Lewis.
Now the machine itself, when it works is totally amazing. You can record two programmes on different channels at once and watch one on playback while this is happening. This is important the sales guff would make you believe that you can record two channels whilst watching another live transmission. This is possible depending which multiplex (basically a group of channels) you are recording - if there is a clash you will get a warning..
Remember the days of programming the timer on the video recorder? That has long gone. Now you have a graphic TV Guide, which you scroll through to you get to the programme you wish to record, then you press the red record button.
It is possible to back up your recordings onto your PC, this method seems to unnecessarily complex for me, especially in the plug and play era.
I really would love to give this machine 5 stars, but for my machine to fail and my two friends' machines to fail, and also with the shop being honest enough to hint at a problem, I can only give it an overall 2 stars.
I have used the PVR for 3 years now and it is an amazing PVR for recording from Freeview. The features on it are excellent. You can record 2 programmes at the same time and watch a recorded one, or record one programme and carry on watching live TV.
The box has series link so you will never need to miss a programme again and can record TV and radio. Other amazing feature include having picture in picture and you can select certain programmes from your recorded library to watch one after the other.
I still haven't found any disadvatages with this box, it does everything that I need it to. Ok it is bit bulky but then it does have 2 tuners in the box. The box is now also alot cheaper at around £110 now so its not expensive if you want to be able to record from freeview without the hastle of blank VHS or DVD.
We bought our Humax PVR-9200T not long after moving into our new house in December 2005. We decided on the Humax PVR as it came with a Freeview set up and the facility to record programmes along with a host of other minor functions. For those of you in the dark ages or still on analogue TV, PVR stands for 'Personal Video Recorder' and is essentially a computer type hard drive contained in a TV receiver box. This PVR is a link between my aerial and my TV so I can watch nice crisp digital TV, our PVR's work with cable or satellite TV. I decided to use the Humax for a year before writing a review on it, however I feel that I am now writing about something that is nearly obsolete with the recent push for High Definition TV (HDTV).
We chose the Humax PVR-9200T based a few things. First there was a glowing review of an older Humax PVR on this website followed by some friends tell us about the wonderful Humax that they had just picked up. We happened to be around their house for a Halloween party and managed to get a demonstration of this very model. The only thing we did differently to our friends was we went online and bought the Humax for around £215. This was over £35 cheaper than our friends paid for theirs three months earlier at a high street chain, so I was quite happy with my initial outlay. The box with our Humax arrived about seven days after ordering and after the usual checks to the outside of the package I opened it and pulled out the shiny silver box.
Setting up the Humax was really quite easy and I was able to plug all my other TV accessories into the box except my old VCR which this unit was really replacing. It has two SCART sockets at the back, a video socket with left or right audio sockets and two aerial sockets. Using all the SCART sockets I was able to plug in the TV and the separate surround sound unit. The instruction booklet really did help me work my way through the set-up procedure and get everything connected properly before I turned the Humax on.
It whirred into life sounding just like a home computer as the hard disc spun at a high pitch and a loading bar appeared on the TV screen. From here the PVR was able to distinguish that my standard TV aerial was picking up two different TV signal stations. On screen it displayed two bars for each tower, one for strength and the other for quality. Not being entirely sure what to do I used the controller to select the stronger signal. Next the Humax gave me the option of finding the channels automatically or manually. Having no idea which channels were available I let it search on automatic.
Within a few minutes it had found all the Freeview channels that were available to us and had saved them in a good logical order. By this I mean that BBC 1 was channel 1, BBC 2 was 2 and so on. Once I was happy with the way the channels were set up I checked to make sure I could watch DVD's and play CD's via my surround sound system without any interference from the PVR. Everything worked perfectly so I sat down and tried to work out how to record programmes.
Again the manual was helpful in explaining the different ways to record a programme. One way is to watch a channel and then press a record button when the programme is on the main screen. All well and good, but what about programming ahead? Well the Humax can do this too as it has programme guide which has a look ahead of seven days. Here you can go through all the channels to find your desired programme and then select the 'OK' button. Another way to find all your favourite programmes is to go to the Search feature and type in a search name. It is a good thing to have as it allows me to find obscure films. The search facility does have moments were it will select other programmes if you put in a short word like 'car' it will pick up a programmes with titles such as 'Care Bears' or 'Get Carter', basically any programme title with the word 'car' in it somewhere. This is a little annoying, but you can normally find what you are looking for if you are more specific.
Once you have selected a programme to record it will automatically save that programme once only. For more options on recording the Humax allows you to go into the main menu and pick up the Recording schedule. Here you can edit the schedule and set a programme to record one of three ways. Once (this is the default), Weekly or Daily. This is good if you have a series you want to watch and you are out or you want to keep a copy of the series. You can set the Humax to record on a regular basis so you get to see all of the programmes you want.
As this Humax unit has twin tuners there is something else that it will do and that is it will pause live TV. This is great if you are half way through watching a programme and the phone rings. By hitting a pause button the screen freezes and allows you to take the call. When you are done with the call you can hit a play button or press pause and the programme carries on again. This is one of my favourite things about this machine as it means I am not always using up the memory whilst I'm pausing live TV as it will delete the watched portion as soon as I'm done with it.
Now the memory for his PVR was one of the largest when I bought it last year at around 160 GB. According to the manual it will hold over 80 hours of footage which is a lot and a year later and I'm only now just getting over 50% full. I have been good and I have been deleting programmes as I have watched them, but it does allow you to record several different series all at once onto the disc without having to hit delete too often. The memory edit function is very easy to use and even Mrs Cad has been good enough to delete programmes that she has watched.
The Humax does have a range of other functions which I have to admit I haven't used. Firstly it can connect to a PC via a serial socket, however this cable didn't come with the box and my PC and TV are at completely different ends of the house so I have never bought them together or found out if I can connect them. Further things I have not tried is downloading JPG or MP3 files onto the PVR. I have not done this for two reasons, number one was no lead and secondly I was keen not to fill the hard drive with pictures or music files which I have on a decent PC elsewhere in the house.
Well I have waxed lyrically long enough about how good the Humax is, so there must be some bad points and there are a few. Firstly if you have this in an area where you sleep it can get quite loud even when it is on stand-by as it may suddenly turn on and do an automatic update check or you are recording a programme late at night. I only found this one out lately as I moved it upstairs whilst I was redecorating the lounge and woke up at 4am wondering what the noise and flashing lights were. It was the Humax trying to do an automatic update, which I was able to disable for the short term and reset once it was back in the lounge.
Another item which was resolved after a few months was the Humax would clip programmes at the end if they ran on. I think an update around May 2006 cured this, but it was annoying watching a programme and then having it ending about five minutes before the end. It still has a habit of clipping programmes a bit at the beginning as I think it starts on the exact time the programme begins rather than adding a few minutes on to the beginning, but the endings have certainly been sorted out by the update.
The final item is the most annoying and one that irks me most. Even when on standby the programme guide takes an age to load up. If you fire up the Humax and select a channel it will only load up the first few programmes for each channel. This takes around five minutes, which is a long time considering it's been on stand-by. Only once this is done it will gradually pick up more and more programmes for the guide to display. For example if you want to turn it on just as you are going out and you want to save a programme in say an hours time you may have to wait around ten minutes before you can see it displayed in the guide. Only once it is displayed will you be able to save it. This is really annoying if you are in a hurry, but it can be speeded up slightly if you select the channel your desired programme is on. For some reason the programme guide loads the future programmes for the channel you are watching before the others. Either way the programme guide can be annoyingly slow to load.
So in conclusion then I think the Humax PVR-9200T is a wonderful machine, but due to the minor problems it drops a notch to make it a good buy not an excellent one. As for the recommendation goes I had a massive psychotic dilemma and I could not decide whether to recommend it or not. As an electronic product for 2005/6 the Humax was a brilliant machine. True I had a few minor teething problems with it one of which was cured by a manufacturers update, whilst the other problem wasn't. Now we are in 2007 and I can help but think that this unit is old technology. I'm not sure if it can receive HDTV signals, but as Sky users need a new box I think that for me to get HDTV I will need to do the same. Also I'm sure that Humax have not been sitting on their laurels and are working on a new model which could even be on the shelves as I speak. The Humax PVR-9200T is a very good machine, but a year down the line I have a feeling that there are better, bigger more capable PVR models on the market the this one.
So after wrestling with my two personalities I have finally recommended the product, but only if you can find one cheaper than the £215 I paid for mine. You will get a good PVR unit that receives Freeview channels and has an ability to record to a hard drive in various ways. On the other hand you might be better to look around and find something more up to date than this venerable PVR unit.
(c) 2007 Cad
This review can be found on other websites under the same user name and is written by me.
Manufacturers Website: http://www.humaxdigital.com
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