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After hearing so many people enthusing about high definition pictures on their TVs and, seeing for myself the difference between that and non-HD pictures, I eventually succumbed and began investigating the ways in which I could set up my HD-Ready TV to receive HD pictures on the BBC and ITV HD channels, for these are the ones I view most.
It seems that there were three ways in which I could do this. The first, and probably most expensive in the long term, would be to subscribe to Sky or Virgin TV, or I could buy a freeview satellite dish plus an HD set-top box, which would involve an initial outlay of around £300, after which viewing would be free, but allow me more HD channels than the final option. The third choice and the one I opted for, was to buy an HD digital receiver, set-top box to connect via an HDMI cable to the TV.
The reason why I had not opted for the other systems was not only the cost, although that was one major factor, but because I had no wish to receive any more TV channels than I already do with freeview; it would have been, for me, an utter waste of money.
After half deciding to buy one of these HD set-top boxes and checking on line for brands and prices, I popped down to my favourite store, Protec, to see if they had any in stock. I knew the shop sold only the most reliable equipment and the sales assistants are knowledgeable about all the electrical goods they sell. I do try, whenever possible, to support local trade.
I was rather concerned, however, to discover that their Humax HD-FoxT2 was priced at £199, since those same models, on line, ranged from £138 to about £168, one or two were over £200, but I ignored the latter entirely.
Now call me an old skin-flint if you like, but I could not justify my paying £199 when I could get the same for £138 - post free, so I decided to engage my newly acquired negotiating skills to see if Protec could possibly lower their price a tad. I had a chat with the manageress who very kindly dropped the price to £175, which I thought was indeed, a very fair offer, still higher than the lowest price I could have got it for, but let's face it, I was also buying Protec's expertise and good will, both of which, to anyone like myself, is priceless.
With a quick demonstration in the shop, on an up and running demonstration model, I tucked my new purchase under my arm and trundled home to set it up.
The Humax Freeview HD-FoxT2 box and accessories
The set-top box is small, black and compact, weighing 1.4kg. I have seen bigger boxes of chocolates. Its dimensions are as follows. Width: 28cm, depth: 20cm and height: 4cm. Both top and bottom surfaces are perforated to allow air to circulate in and around the box. Its maximum power consumption is 22W and the standby consumption is 1W. With it came, yes, yet another, remote control, two AAA batteries, and HDMI cable, a scart cable, a quick-start guide and very comprehensive user's manual.
Connecting to TV and setting up
Simple - or it would have been if I had read the set-up instructions properly, but a few phone calls to Protec set me on the right path - which just goes to prove my earlier observation that local expertise is invaluable. I would advise any technophobes to buy locally too, but having said that there is a Humax call centre to either phone or email should advice or help be needed.
What I had failed to notice, because it was under a picture and which I had wrongly assumed was not part of the set-up procedure, was a note to say that the PVR mode needed selecting on the remote control before the box could be used. Ssheesh - one small button made all the difference between success and failure and put me fairly, and squarely in the 'not-so-bright-as-you-think-you-are,' bracket.
So, all that was required, was for me to connect the HDMI cable to the TV and box, the scart from the box to the CD/Video combi. Take the TV aerial from video combi and connect it to the box and a male/female connection from the box to the video, all of which was much simpler than it sounds. In the manuals are extremely good pictures of the connection sites and very easy to follow diagrams - even I got that bit right - and me, a self-confessed borderline technophobe.
After all connections completed, I powered on the TV and box, pressed the select button on the TV remote, the PVR button on the Humax remote, then with the same remote, followed the installation wizard instructions which appeared on the screen, only five steps and the whole installation process took about 5 minutes.
The Humax box has an Ethernet port, which can be connected to a PC or laptop if required.
Apart from the usual TV features familiar to most by now, such as child locks, volume control, mute, teletext and changing and editing channels, The Humax remote has a few extra features(new to me) worthy of a mention.
I have lost count of the number of times someone has said "Oh you must watch "Bliketty Blink," but then failed to remember which channel and on what day it was due to be broadcast. Therefore, for me, the most unusual and probably useful feature of the Humax, is the ability to find information about a programme schedule, current or future.
This is simply achieved by pushing the remote 'guide' button and then the green button to bring on screen a keyboard (not the QWERTY format.) Then by typing the name of the programme of interest, on the keyboard using the remotes central, left, right up and down arrows and OK button, all the relevant details, such as channel number, dates and times that programme is scheduled to be broadcast, is displayed on screen. What is more, the programme title will be kept in the memory, so that should you wish at a future date to check the same details again, it will not be necessary to re-type the name of the programme. One could almost say that it is a free TV times.
By pushing the 'i' button, an information plate with information about the programme currently being viewed, such as the channel, title and length of broadcast, is displayed at the bottom of the screen. By pushing the central right arrow, information on the next programme scheduled will be displayed; by continuing to push the button, information on the entire evenings viewing on that particular channel will be displayed in turn.
The 'Back' button is the equivalent to the 'Return' button on TV remotes
The 'TV/Radio' button, when pressed, turns the TV into a radio and by pressing the 'Guide,' button, all the radio programmes available for selection is displayed on screen. To return from Radio mode to TV mode the 'TV/Radio' button has to be pressed again.
It is also possible using the guide feature, to select a TV programme you wish to view later. When the programme selected is due to begin, a reminder appears on the screen that the selected programme is about to start, then a second or so later, automatically selects the chosen channel.
The remote is simple to use; the buttons, do not necessitate the need of a magnifying glass to read their functions, and are well spaced.
It is worth remembering that when recording a programme on a video or DVD, the Humax will automatically power down after three hours and go to standby, if not used within that time. For example, when watching one programme and recording another, the Humax is actually not in use, so will power down after three hours, displaying a warning just before it does, so to prevent loss of programme or recording it is necessary to press power button again it will then be good for another three hours, if need be. This feature can, however be disabled.
My overall impression
I found that when the Humax set-top box was connected and installed, the picture quality of my TV, which was already very good, became just a little bit sharper even when not showing HD programmes.
The remote control buttons were well spaced and simple to navigate; the User manual was excellent, logically set out and contained all the information needed, including help lines
It was easy to find and select the HD channels when programmes were scheduled. The picture quality was certainly crisper than non-HD channels and some would say worth the extra cost of installing.
If your TV will soon need replacing, then it will not be worth buying any freeview HD systems, just go straight for the HD-TV already set up to broadcast HD. If your TV is still young and HD-Ready and you would like to experience HD reception, without the extra cost of subscribing to satellite systems, then I can thoroughly recommend the Humax HD-FoxT2.
If however, you want and HD set-top box that records, this is not the box for you and you will need to invest in one of the satellite systems.
Humax is one of the better quality brands
Originally posted on dooyoo under name of goosey
Pictures of Humax HD-FOX T2
Guide feature with inset picture of programme showing
Excellent detailed review with neat pics. We've no alternative in this economic climate to be anything other than frugal, so well done on you Marjorie for your skillful negotiating talents :D You know what i'm going to say next, yep, will be back to rate with an E :D xXx
BNibbles 09.02.2011 07:47
Excellent review based on your own experience. I think you'll find that since you wrote it, Humax do now have recording options. One is to buy an HDR-FOX T2 with a hard disk and two tuners. The other is to buy the same box you have with the addition of a USB exterior hard-drive. I think you may also be able to add one of these subject to a firmware upgrade from the Humax site, although of course, you'd still only have the single tuner. Chris