FIRST REVIEW:New Humax DVR, Button Skips Ads Is Smart & Has ABC iView App

Written by David Richards     06/09/2011 | 02:11 | Category name i.e.MEDIA CENTRES

This time last year TV vendors were flogging 3D as a reason to buy a new TV. This year its Smart TV technology and before that it was the introduction of Freeview, a technology that was more about controlling ad skipping than watching TV.

This time last year TV vendors were flogging 3D as a reason to buy a new TV, this year its Smart TV technology and before that it was the introduction of Freeview, a technology that was more about controlling ad skipping than watching TV.

So what do you do? Go along with what TV vendors are telling you or, do you go and buy a digital TV recorder that has smart technology built into a box that can be attached to any TV and is still there when you upgrade your TV.


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One such box is the new $449 Humax HDR 7500T which includes the Ice TV electronic program guide as well as the ability to instantly skip TV advertising with the press of a button. $200 cheaper than the premium priced $650 Topfield

Masterpiece + the Humax offering has a lot going for it.

Already the bestselling DVR in the UK and Germany the new Humax offering has a significantly smaller footprint than previous model, digital set top boxes from other vendors, it's also easier on the eyes with a sleek black plastic casing that is more like the new generation HD TV's now being sold by retailers.

At 380mm wide, 55mm high, 246mm deep and weighing just 2.75kg, this device can easily sit next to a TV or be slid away into a TV cabinet.

Out of the box this device is easy to configure but don't bank on being able to easily read the Humax Quick Installation Guide. The text is well below an acceptable 10 point font used by most publishers and even with glasses on I struggled to read the installation document.

Under the bonnet the Humax offering is well specked with the option of a 500GB or 1TB hard drive. Personally I think a 500GB drive is irrelevant today as there is little difference in price between 500GB and a  one Terabyte version.If my Foxtel Q Box which has a 500GB drive is anything to go by you can easily run out of space when recording shows over a two week period which I often do when I am away.

The HDR 7500T has twin tuners and allows for chasing and time shift recording.

What I would like to see in future digital recorders is the ability to backward record TV programs that one has missed or failed to record. Currently we can only record forward programs for seven days, but there is a DVR in development the UK which has a 7 day backward electronic program guide.

The quality of the image delivered to the screen using the Humax DVR was excellent. With built in 1080 HD and upscaling that allows 720p content to be upscaled to 1080p the device is as good if not better than several other digital video recorders that we have reviewed.

With a built in Ethernet port the device can be easily plugged into the Internet however a big letdown is the lack of built Wi Fi.

Instead users are given a Humax WI Fi adapter which has to be plugged into the single USB port which makes it difficult to attach an external USB attach storage device when using Wi Fi.

One of the most noticable improvements with this device is the self-help configuration guide, that pops up when you first turn on the DVR. After being prompted to identify where you live the device easily configures the TV stations.

Unlike several other DVR devices the Humax software delivers the various stations in logical order using very clear fonts which are easy to read.

Bundled in with this device is the Ice TV electronic program guide which after being configured is easy to use however you do have to pay an annual subscription fee of $49 per annum to get access to this service or a $99 fee which gives you access to the Ice TV service for five years or the life of the box.

A big benefit in using the Ice TV EPG TV Guide is the availability of Android and Apple iPhone and iPad applications which when downloaded to a a tablet or Smartphone allows users to access the Humax DVR from remote locations which is handy if you have forgotten to record a program.


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The Humax software allows users to navigate around the DVR easily easily even when configuring such services as an Internet connection. All you have to do to configure the Internet is go to menu, settings and then network settings. In most cases the setting will be DHCP so all you have to do is highlight DHCP, hit the apply button and within seconds your box is configured, for more complex configurations there are drop down menus.

Like a lot of the new Smart TV's the new Humax DVR has an application TV portal that gives users access to online services such as YouTube, Goggle Picasa and Wiki@ TV.

The best application is the ABC iView which allows users to access catch up TV such as your favourite ABC shows.  


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Stereo sound output from the device was also good due to the use of Dolby Digital + users can also easily configure the picture according to different aspect ratios. 

One of the biggest advantages of owning this DVR is that it has the ability to fast forward content at up to double the speed one can fast forward on a Freeview certified device. You can also skip advertising between programs by pressing a button as opposed to having to fast forward at 30X frames when using a Foxtel DVR or Freeview enabled device.



Pro
This is an excellent DVR which unlike a lot of other offerings can be purchased online at www.icetv.com.au for $499 Vs $649 for the new Topfield Masterpiece which is being sold at Harvey Norman.

The Humax software coupled with full featured hardware is what makes all the difference. The software is easy to configure and above all well set out so that the menu is easy to follow. Text is clear and logical and the new TV portal is easy to

access via a green button on the remote. Another big benefit is the inclusion of the Ice TV EPG. This allows users to operate outside of a device that has Freeview restrictions.  The hardware is the best you can get in a DVR which is not surprising

considering Humax who are a Korean Company are one of the biggest manufacturers of digital video recorders.

 

Cons
I would have liked to have seen the mute button right next to the volume control as opposed to being located at the top of the remote.The device only has one USB port which makes running an extend storage device and wireless difficult. The

wireless should have been built in freeing up the USB port. What I suggest is that you buy a USB port so that you can attach both the Wi Fi Dongle and additional storage.

For full specifications see over.

Humax HDR-7500T twin tuner PVR with 500GB HDD

Features
Easy TV Portal
Record 2 services while recording
Chasing & Time Shift playback
1080P upscaling
Easy connection to a home network
Catchup services
Optional WIFI adaptor

 
Specifications

System Resource
Flash Memory: 32MB
DDR SDRAM: 256MB (2x128)
HDD: 500GB

Front End
Tuner Type: DVB-T 2 Tuner
Input Connector: IEC169-2 Female (PAL)
RF Loop through connector: IEC169-2 male (PAL)
Demodulation: OFDM

MPEG Transport Stream AV Decoding
Transport Stream: MPEG-4 Part2 / MPEG-2 ISO/IEC 13818
Profile Level: MPEG-2 MP@HL, MPEG-4 AVC MP@L3, MP@L4, HP@L4
Video Resolution: 1080p/1080i/720p/576p/576i
Aspect Ratio: 4:3, 16:9, letter box
Audio Decoding: Dolby Digital +
Audio Mode: Single/Dual/Joint stereo/Stereo

Front
Dispay: VFD (12 digits)
Buttons: 5 touch keys (power, vol+/-, ch+/-)
LED: 1 (3 in 1 colour: Red for Recording, Blue for Operating, Amber for Standby)
USB: 1 (2.0)

Rear
S/PDIF: 1 optical output
HDMI: 1 x HDCP 1.3a Version
USB: 1 (USB2.0)
Ethernet: 1 RJ45
Power Cord: Fixed
Tuner: 1 UHF Loop through
Composite Video: 1 x RCA CVBS
Component Video: 1 x Component Video (YPbPr)
Audio: 2 x RCA Audio (L&R)

Power Supply
Input Voltage: AC90-250, 50/60Hz
Power Consumption: Operating: 25W, Standby under 1W
Type: Switching Mode Power Suppy.

Physical Specifications:
Size: 380mm wide, 55mm high, 246mm deep
Weight: 2.75kg (net)

Accessories
User manual (CD), RCU (RM-F04) with 2 batteries, HDMI cable, RCA Cable

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Pros & Cons

Pros:

The new low cost Humax is the best of the DVR bunch. The level of recording flexibility, immaculate onscreen presentation, slick operation and extensive feature list (with more to come) make it an irresistible proposition that its rivals can't match. This is an excellent DVR which unlike a lot of other offerings can be purchased online at www.icetv.com.au for $499 Vs $649 for the new Topfield Masterpiece which is being sold at Harvey Norman.

Cons:

I would like to have seen the mute button right next to the volume control as opposed to being located at the top of the remote.The device only has one USB port which makes running an extend storage device and wireless difficult. wireless should have been built in freeing up the USB port. What I suggest is that you buy a USB port so that you can attach both the Wi Fi Dongle and additional storage.