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back to article Icecrypt T2400 Freeview HD DVR

Icecrypt is a little known name in the UK. Their T2200 Freeview HD box was made by Topfield and the T2400 is in fact a UK version of a product from Korean PVR maker HomeCast. It’s a twin tuner unit for FreeviewHD, available with hard drives of 500GB, 1TB or 2TB. Icecrypt T2400 Icecrypt's T2400: the click wheel can be used to …

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Unhappy

Why

can't we have a box that contains twin tuners, a HDD AND a DVD burner?

With all this digital technology why can't we record a programme from the time it starts until the time it finishes without getting a three minute news bulletin and a bunch of prerecorded trails on the beginning and then getting the end chopped off.

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It's the signalling

On the BBC channels, you typically find that recordings do start very promptly, and I found that they all began with the BBC One ident, then the programme, running at the end until just before the ident at the beginning of the next programme.

ITV, unfortunately, tends to signal the start time a little later in my experience, right at the very beginning of the programme, while Five are absolutely hopeless.

So, a lot of that is down to the broadcasters, rather than PVR makers.

As for DVD burners, there are various issues, but chief amongst them is the need to include an MPEG encoder as well as a DVD decoder. The DVD standard is fairly strict about the allowable resolutions and various other formats, much more so than broadcasters. As a result, to create a properly compliant DVD you will very often need to re-encode the transport stream, and that is typically a real time activity.

That in itself produces some interface quirks and annoyances for the users, some of which I think I covered in my review of the Panasonic twin tuner DVD burner for FreeviewHD, last year.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Making DVDs

Moving SD content off to DVD would be trivial without the need for re-encoding. Freeview broadcasts are DVD compliant, except for maybe a few of the downmarket channels. Sky are a different story as many of their channels are transmitted at 75% of full SD resolution which breaks the DVD spec. Even then, the vast majority of players would cope with the results and in 10 years of making DVDs, I've only ever found one that didn't.

HD would need re-encoding or writing to Blu Ray. That's a different issue anyway because hardware-makers have to "play nice" and encrypt anything that comes off the box or they get banned from decrypting the EPG data. A stupid situation which damages the customer experience to satisfy the paranoia of the film studios.

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Thumb Up

twin tuners, a HDD AND a DVD burner?

> can't we have a box that contains twin tuners, a HDD AND a DVD burner?

You can, it's the Panasonic XW-380, or BW-780 if you want a Blu-ray burner rather than DVD. The XW-380 costs about the same as this box, but only has a 250Gb drive. It's got VieraCast as well, so does YouTube etc.

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FAIL

Expensive for what it does

When looking at various Freeview HD DVRs last year, the Icecrypt model looked interesting, but I've got to say it seems under-featured for its quite high price. Lack of DLNA support and no wireless (not many households have CAT 5 in their lounge!) are both major minuses in my book. The EPG does look badly designed (far too much space for the Picture-in-Picture and programme description) and the format support for video playback seems average.

Althouigh it's still got bugs to fix, the Smartbox 8320HD from Fetch TV at 190 quid still seems to offer the best bang-for-buck in the Freeview HD arena - a shame Tesco just ended their distribution deal for it though. It *does* have DLNA, wired and wireless and supports an awful lot of video formats. No mention of iPlayer or Sky Player (both on the 8320HD) in this Icecrypt review, so I can assume they're no-no's too?

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Anonymous Coward

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

"There's too much missed out."

Did you actually bother reading the review? Do you understand anything about the product?

"Is there any way of getting programmes off except in analogue (plus s/p-dif sound)? "

SD recordings can be copied to a USB drive

"Can you edit the scheduled recording time so that you can avoid news summaries and allow for overruns? Can you schedule series recording? And without overwriting the previous episode? Can you record programmes that jump channels e.g. sports that switch from BBC1 to BBC2 or vice versa?"

It carries the Freeview+ branding so must meet the Freeview+ spec. That includes series recording and signalled start/end (which won't be 100% accurate other than on the BBC but is far more convenient than manual padding.

"Will it record two pregrammes that share a common junction but on different channels whilst recording something on the other tuner?"

Suspect that will depend on the broadcaster signalling - if there's an overlap then it won't.

"Why doesn't it have a DVD recorder"

What do you use your DVDs for? it's got a 1TB hard drive - that's an enormous amount of SD TV. If you do need to burn to DVD you can take it off on USB memory and take you your PC.

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Thumb Up

Re: The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

> SD recordings can be copied to a USB drive

OK, but can you re-code HD stuff to SD and copy it to a USB drive?

> What do you use your DVDs for?

Personally I use it for video capturing bits of programs on the PC. Music videos that end up on my iPod for example. I drop the entire programme onto DVD, then grab the bits I want in Video ReDo on the PC.

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No, you can't

Only SD recordings can be copied, and the box doesn't have the MPEG encoder chip that would be required to convert HD to SD, as it records only the transport streams.

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Good review, couple of questions

Does it record in standby - i.e. without activating the SCART?

When turned on from standby does it come on on the last channel watched live, or the last channel recorded from if a recording has been made since last watching live?

Just the sort of niggly things that put us many PVRs around at the moment - none get it all wrong, but none seem to get it all right either...

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HDMI, certainly

It certainly records from standby as far as the HDMI port is concerned, though given the HD nature of the beast, I've not played extensively with the SCARTs, so I'll have to check that for you. There's no audio or video on the HDMI outputs when it's recording in standby, until you press the power button.

On power up, it's taking me back to the last channel watched, however again there are quite a few possible combinations that could affect that, so I'll schedule recordings on two different muxes, then shut down while viewing a third mux to see, and report back later.

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Reporting back...

I scheduled overlapping recordings on BBC 2 and Five last night, and shut the T2400 down while it was tuned to 4HD.

The startup channel this morning was Channel 5, which left me feeling quite dirty considering the chav-tastic content they have on this time of day. But at least now you have an answer

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Grenade

My ideal PVR....

...2 * DVB-S2 + 2 * DVB-T2 (or more)

There's one out there with 2 * DVB-S2 and 1 * DVB-T

Scoff all you want, but given that some Freeview channels aren't on Freesat it'd be handy - and to be honest with the number of scheduling conflicts my existing 2 * DVB-T PVR runs into it'd be nice to consider even more tuners along with the ability to fire multiple results off to multiple TVs (or ethernet connected devices)

Yes, I can build one (HTPC, etc) but it'd be nice to buy a complete setup.

(Oh, and WHY is DVB-T2 so expensive compared with DVB-T, given the chipset can also be used on DVB-C sets, thus giving major economies of scale worldwide?)

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Sorry, not a good review

There's too much missed out. Is there any way of getting programmes off except in analogue (plus s/p-dif sound)? Are you forced to select radio or tv rather than just being able to select the appropriate channel? Can you disable the annoying "Press RED" and other similar interferences? Can you mute the sound? (it looks like you can) Can you edit the scheduled recording time so that you can avoid news summaries and allow for overruns? Can you schedule series recording? And without overwriting the previous episode? Can you record programmes that jump channels e.g. sports that switch from BBC1 to BBC2 or vice versa? Will it record two pregrammes that share a common junction but on different channels whilst recording something on the other tuner? Can you swithc the front end on or off while recording is going on in the background? Does the hard disc run continuously or shut down when not needed? What are the slo-mo and fast scan facilities like? Can you step frame by frame forwards or backwards? Do you get a time read-out when fast forwarding or reversing a recording? You really need to use these things for at least a couple of weeks before you can write a comprehensive review.

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Well ...

I've been using it since November, in fact. And I did answer some of those questions in the review for you.

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Coat

RE: Sorry, not a good review

Yeah !

what he said !

and does it have the littel device that goes "ping!"

mmmh ? huuuh ? there !

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Anonymous Coward

same story...

"you can’t pause live radio, unless you’re recording it, and you can’t save the rewind buffer either."

This seems to crop up in a lot of boxes though you would have thought it would have been easy to sort out. wonder if there is some common platform/chipset in the background that these failing platforms all share...

Anyway as an aside I cant see any advantage to justify the price of this box over a freeview HD fetchTV box from tesco for £200. ok its a little plasticy and rough round the edges but it does all this box does and a lot more: IPTV, iPlayer, skyPlayer, Media Center connectivity (mkv avi etc - though it struggles with 1080 HD other than Mpeg4) , built in wifi, import/export...

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WTF?

no dolby?

no dolby is a bit poor. although i find itv never seem to output dolby digital on ITV HD anyway - not a biggie, as we hardly ever watch ITV anyway. bbc HD etc does sound much better in dolby though. doesnt sound come via the hdmi anyway? i know my virgin + HD box needs optical out as i think they only have hdmi 1.1 spec which doesnt do hdmi audio.

also - i find bbc often cuts short on my virgin+ box even though i set it to go past finish time by 5 mins. i just wish it could record the program and not from start and finish times. virgin can record 3 things at once but when you have to do this overlap it often means you can only do 2 or have bits chopped off the third one.

looks like i will stick with virgin for my sky sports and espn (i admit im a bit of a footy addict)

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HDMI, SPDIF

You do get sound via the HDMI port, but for many people, the SPDIF is pretty important; there's a lot of older surround equipment out there that doesn't have HDMI, and the only way the people can get surround from that kit is if the box transcodes to Dolby Digital for SPDIF.

The broadcast format is AAC, though the standard supports Dolby Digital Plus - but neither of those has native support on the bulk of currently installed home AV gear.

So, you need to either output Dolby Digital via SPDIF or HDMI, or multichannel PCM via HDMI (SPDIF doesn't have the capacity for more than stereo PCM) if you're to provide surround that most people can use, and that means transcoding - which will be a requirement on Freeview HD for kit launched from this April.

We've covered some of this last year on RegHardware, and there's also an awful lot about the surround situation over on my own blog.

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Thumb Up

thanks nigel

i always thought it was odd that sky and virgin cannot do dolby digital 5.1 via hdmi. why on earth was it never spec'd by the powers that be to have hdmi with audio transcoding by default. i think sky and virgin can only do stereo via hdmi.

i upgraded my home cinema to a hdmi denon amp last year and it seems odd that virgin etc never added transcoding into its boxes. its just another cable i really dont need cluttering up the back of my cinema setup!

thanks for the reply though, i feel all special now :)

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V+ box audio

Perhaps you have an earlier V+ box than I (mine's about 2 years old), but mine outputs audio over HDMI, and if you enable one of the settings in the menus then you can tell it to bitstream the audio which means you get Dolby Digital if it's being broadcast, 48KHz PCM stereo if not. Films and the latest "big" TV series are usually in 5.1 on the HD channels, but a lot of TV programmes come out in 2.0.

I seem to recall there is a setting on the V+ box for enabling the optical out whilst using HDMI video, try disabling that and seeing if your HDMI audio starts working?

Right, Freeview HD box. Why no iPlayer/4OD? I thought part of the whole Freeview+ spec involved catch-up internet services.

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Well...

The Freeview HD spec mandates an ethernet port, and it includes the same MHEG-IC ("Interaction Channel") extensions as Freesat. So, in theory, iPlayer or 4OD can be delivered over Freeview HD in the same way as it is over Freesat.

Right back at the launch, however, Freeview said they weren't playing that up, and it would be largely up to manufacturers to decide what to do with the functionality. I think part of that was because they simply wanted to concentrate on pushing the HD message, without muddying the waters with talk of IPTV too - and perhaps the delays to rolling out the Freesat equivalent made them less willing to shout about it at the time.

Nevertheless, the revised FreeviewHD testing scheme certainly includes support for the MHEG-IC functions, and it's fairly widely expected that iPlayer will be rolled out this year.

When that happens, I suspect it will follow a pattern similar to Freesat, where the BBC tests their service, and when they're happy, other broadcasters launch theirs, confident that the platform itself has been debugged.

In the meantime, box makers who want to differentiate can provide iPlayer access using other mechanisms, as found on the iCan box, for instance, and shortly to be available on the Humax ones.

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older one?

mine is about 3 years old. not the newer samsung one (i.e its massive). when i output via hdmi i only get 2.0 for some reason. i might have a look for bitstream but if i remember right i dont get that option.

i have been throught pretty much everything to get it to output 5.1 via hdmi but no joy. not the end of the world - until we get truehd etc but i cant see that happening for a few years. the difference between truehd/master dts and normal dolby digital is quite large.

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Take out the DVD recorder and add one BluRay player

I take the point about the Panasonic Jack of all Trades Freeview HD recorder, looks like a fine piece of kit.

That said, what about something with broadly similar features to this but including a BluRay Player only (ie no disk recording, only playback). I am not too bothered about archiving TV content off onto DVD (personally), I never sit down and fancy watching TV from 18 months ago. I would, however, like to cut down the number of boxes under my TV and the number of HMDI ports I need to fill and a PVR with a BluRay player inluded would be a big help (frankly a DVD player would be OK but would break the HD viewing experience). Would cutting out the recording functions drop the price and ease some of those compatability issues?

(A half decent display panel actually on the piece of kit wouldn't hurt. It is PITA when you need to turn on your TV just to select a music track from you "media centre").

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