There is no better example of what can be done with Freeview HD’s new ‘+’ features than the HDR-FOX T2, a 500GB-endowed hard disk recorder with talents stretching to digital file playback and even streaming over a network.
As well as a RF loopthrough, this Humax sports a HDMI for hi-def pictures, a couple of Scarts and a composite video output. Dedicated audio can be sent via stereo outputs or through an optical digital audio output. Happily, the Humax can convert the HE-ACC audio format broadcast on Freeview HD into Dolby Digital 5.1 – so this makes for an ideal option if you’ve a home cinema system.
Meanwhile, the front presents a Common Interface slot (for adding Top-Up TV channels) and a USB slot, the latter of which is able to support a bevy of digital media files.
Humax HDR-FOX T2: ease of use
The easiest to use of all Freeview+ HD boxes, this do-it-all deck from Humax makes recordings to a 500GB hard disk from its two Freeview HD tuners. Recording and playback is a simple process, with series links and scheduling effortless amid a user interface that’s pitched perfectly at those after a slick substitute for Sky or Virgin. Our only complaint is that recordings can’t be edited.
The HDR-FOX T2 can also stream and store digital files – we managed to play DivX, DivX HD and VOB files, though not WMV, from a USB memory stick, though external USB hard disks are also supported. The unit also handles MP3 music and JPEG photos. That rather limited haul of file types can be transferred to the HDR-FOX T2’s hard disk, and even streamed from a PC or Mac on the same network. Unfortunately the latter is a wired affair, though Humax also sells a WiFi adaptor. In a similar vein, Humax is promising that slick interface will soon host icons for both Sky Player and BBC iPlayer.
Humax HDR-FOX T2: Picture quality
Switch on BBC One and the picture quality actually isn't that good; despite its many talents the HDR-FOX T2 obviously doesn't have great upscaling circuitry. Transfer your attentions to a hi-def channel and the results are exemplary, with the HDR-FOX T2 supplying plenty of contrast and bold colouring within a finely detailed and clean image.
It’s expensive, but relative to other Freeview+ HD PVRs, the FOX T2 appears good value. The ability to stream and store digital files adds value, though arguably a built-in WiFi model would seal the deal. The 500GB hard disk, although generous compared to most PVRs, has been surpassed recently by the likes of the Icecrypt T2400, and with tumbling prices for a dedicated external HDD we do wonder whether a terabyte or shouldn't be standard by now in a £300 product.
Perfectly pitched at those after a free-to-air alternative to Sky or Virgin, the HDR-FOX T2’s silky Freeview+ HD recording features provides the perfect excuse to ditch and switch, though the upscaling of SD channels is disappointing.
Humax HDR-FOX T2 release date: Out now. Link Humax
Humax HDR-FOX T3 price: Around £299