The UK’s ongoing digital switchover means that Freeview HD has probably now rolled out to a transmitter near you. If you’re using old digital TVs or set-top boxes, you won’t get the four – soon to be five – high-def channels through your aerial, alongside the standard line-up. One of the best ways to upgrade is with a new …
As I am now in a post switchover area, I need a new PVR and HD is a definate.
Our Humax HDR is overloaded as the Pace Twin is basically an inaccurate digital clock.
Ones which interest me are Humax, TVonics and the Technomate looks interesting.
But then I also need to replace my satellite dish so I can use multiple LNBs for F1 next year.
Not tempted. I suspect an old Topfield / MyStuff setup would beat these offerings.
...but will Topfield produce a HD version?
No, they won't. There is a set top box for Freeview HD made by Topfield and badged by IceCrypt (Turbosat) but no recorder coming along. They don't seem to be terribly keen on the UK market any more, in my view.
Topfield - Dead as a Dodo
Long gone. I wouldn't hang around for them to come back.
Shoddy build quality and even with all your Taps and My Stuff, its still not a great user experience.
I'm amazed that after all these years PVR boxes are all still a dogs dinner when it comes to usability.
How difficult does it have to be?
Disagree with Jason7. The Topfield/MyStuff user experience is pretty near perfect. In feature terms it is well ahead of Sky+ (eg recording based on text search - basic on the Toppy since 2007 - can Sky owners even do that yet?). My only complaint with the Toppy is that the 250 gb disk is getting too small now, and you have to be techy to administer MyStuff. But the authors are friendly and helpful, unlike Rockboxers.
I will take Greg 16's advice: wait 12 months, and then buy a FreeSat HD box with YouView installed.
topfield hd recorders
they *do* exist as smallworld cable are using them in trials (customer trials).
I don't care about features like Bluray or internet connectivity or subtitles or 5.1 sound.
The killer feature for me, which I'm still looking for to replace my now sadly defunct Topfield, is a decent programme guide. I bought a Humax Fox T2 but had to return it as being unusable because it ionly has the traditional "horizontal" program guide, where you end up with lots of helpful information like "Sp... T... In..." because there isn't room for the full program title. Utterly, utterly useless!
What you could do on the Topfield is switch to a single channel at a time "vertical" view, so each programme appeared on its own line with a vertical time axis, and you could scroll down to see the entire week's schedule for one channel, deciding what to record.
If any of these PVRs has a usable programme guide I'll buy it in an instant.
Does anyone produce a PVR with both Freesat HD and Freeview HD tuners - so one can record from both sources ? The more upmarket Samsung and Panasonic 2011 TVs have both tuners so a similar PVR would be great. I guess you could build a Quiet PC with a Freeview and FeeeSat card...
Isn't that what the Technomate TM-7102 HD-T2 Super does?
How long did you run these for?
The one I bought from Tesco for £80 is just fine, except that about once a week it hangs, needs to be power cycled then spends 10 mins "repairing" its hard drive.
I suppose some of the more expensive ones have more reliable disks, but how much do you need to pay to be sure that you aren't just getting the same crap in a shinier box?
Long term reliability
Well, even medium term reliability, is the bug-bear of all recording boxes I've had any experience of. Not necessarily catastrophic hardware failure, but simple lack of perhaps the most important aspect with any recorder, especially with huge storage capacity: dependability. Forget the bells and whistles. Frankly if someone can produce for me a twin tuner PVR (DVB-T or DVB-T2) that can be relied upon to make the recordings requested, when requested, my money's on the table. I'm not holding my breath. Sadly these are the kinds of issues never coming up in reviews, only the forums once lumbered with an unreliable piece of junk. Never acknowledged by the manufacturers either: yes Humax, that includes you.
Humax's have been OK for me.
I've had Humax's since the 9200 and had very few problems.
The 9200's started to get a bit problematical after 4 or 5 years but a cold boot normally fixes that .
The Freesat HD might lock up once in 6 months or so but I don't use that much now as the user interface of the FOX-HDR is much better IMHO and now you can have the FOX HD and watch content on the HDR using that it's gettting much better.
Now looking forward to being able to programme them over the net :-). It might even be available on hacked versions I haven't looked recently.
Sagemcom RT190-320 T2 HD, USB stick
I have this box and just to let you know the USB port allows you to download from the box to the stick and export to a PC. you need the sagemcom-file-converter.exe which you can download from sagemcom to view on a PC.
I gave up on freeview recorders as they were consistently underpowered and poorly featured.
From the look of this bunch it doesn't look like they have moved on a lot.
What's the betting you could cure most of the LG crashes with an uprated transformer unit?
And DVB-T only? Do they even know what year it is?
Well there's a pile o' shite, every one missing something, now when will someone put all the needed features in one box while leaving out the crap?
The Samsung box had the potential to piss on all the others from a great height - but then they forgot to connect the second tuner to the harddrive - Retards!
There's only 3-4 FreeSat HD recorders on the market, and Humax haven't released a new once since 2009
I'm pretty happy with my Acer Revo running windows media centre. I have Freeview HD and satellite (DVB-S2), plenty of space for recordings and it can play all my media off of local drives, USB or network. It can also stream nicely from the Internet.
Total cost was more than most of the receivers here bar the technomate. Only feature it's missing is the transcode of AAC into DD5.1 on the freeview HD channels.
DVB-T2 is included in the 3View. And I can see other features missing from both the 3View and other products in this list. The review is very "bare bones" and fails to actually list specs or compare features.
So to the posts above this one asking about why the are "only DVB-T" or "missing features", please don't take this as a "complete" review. I assume all of these products do a lot more than has been documented here.
Still an interesting comparison.
Not Freeview compliant
Last time I checked the 3view box wasn't Freeview HD compliant nor certified to be so. It really should be made clear because others have put great effort in to ensuring they achieve compliance to the national standards.
Also the ICE Crypt boxes aren't actually made by Turbosat themselves, they are licensed designs built by a third party.
T/T2 not the point
The point is S which I am sure the reviewer would have mentioned no matter how bare boned a review.
And why do you assume that the products do a lot more than the reviewer has mentioned? Are you referring to the long list of things like "EPG, remote control, power on light etc" which manufacturers of shoddy crap like to include to distract us from the fact that it's shoddy crap? Or are you aware of some actual useful feature that the reviewer has failed to mention?
Grow up troll...
Obviously I was not referring to default features like an on switch or a remote control. I was referring to extra tricks that each box will do that makes them unique. I own one of the 3View boxes, and the Internet Connected side is very handy. It also means that via the forum we already have it doing tricks it was not designed to. (No - I am not going to write a review as I don't have experience of other products and I'll be accused of bias. And the review here was bang on about this product still being a work in progress. Potential looks interesting. And AAC is also in the "soon" list due for one of the next firmware updates)
Look at what the after market has done for Humax and other brands. The best products grow a life of their own among their fans.
Does export to PC work with HD content? I thought most of these boxes, at least the 'big name' ones, locked down HD content so it can only be replayed on the box it was recorded on, I was hoping some of the more 'left field' brands might not have been so rigorous about DRM.
Fetch TV 8320HD
No love for the Fetch TV 8320HD reviewed previously? I've had one of these since new and they really have fixed the firmware to an acceptable standard now. Dual DVB-T2 tuners, DLNA, iPlayer, Sky Go built in, and can be picked up for £150 if you look hard enough!
Freeview is forever crippled
Freeview HD has the major issue of not having the bandwidth. They just upgraded the compression so they can transmit a total of FIVE HD channels! - but in doing this a large number of earlier Freeview HD boxes were made obsolete.
FreeSat HD is the platform with the capacity, especially as its just had a new satellite launched, but FreeSat is also being upgraded to the new G2 standard early next year so its not a great idea to buy a box right now.
Then of course there is the long delayed YouView which has massive promise, but will need a high speed internet connection to be any use. They have also published a minimum spec of their hardware which is far higher than any currently available FreeSat or FreeView box.
Probably the best bet is to wait 12 months, and then buy a FreeSat HD box with YouView installed.
No Freeview HD boxes have been obsoleted. The compression used for FreeviewHD now is exactly the same as it was at launch - H.264. Compression ratios may have changed slightly, but that has not made any Freeview HD box obsolete.
Yes, my mistake it was some of the early FreeSat HD boxes that were made obsolete by the update. It was the upgrade to the DVB-S2 standard which is basically compression.
The hope for FreeView HD is that miraculous improvements are made in compression to allow more than the 5 HD channels it can currently manage - I can't see it happening, so it will just mean a reduction in channels as they move from SD to HD.
Freeview HD no, Freeview yes
Quite a few early Freeview tuners are non DSO compatible.
Pace DTVA - only used it for a couple of months before that TV died fully (bedroom TV) now scrap but was still working.
Pace Twin - oh look an expensive digital clock - as soon as we have cleared the hard drive bin time.
And due to their lack of concern I won't be buying Pace again, I had a techy on the phone for 1/4 hour about the Twin issue, it only needs a software update to work. I actually asked him if Humax products work OK after DSO, as they are top of list at the moment.
But then an email to Humax was not answered about their DTTV stuff.
No mention of the digitalstream boxes? They're not much older than the Humax, and with current firmware, they'll do the media player from USB thing, and DD transcoding via HDMI and TOSLINK...
Maybe due to what the theregister were sent by manufacturers. Disappointing not to see this one in there though. They are doing really well with putting out new features via firmware. Really good support of the product. Does most of what the recommended box does but for less money....
Why isn't a single dreambox included in this review?
For those asking for the ultimate in highend there is the PVR8000HD, but they also offer smaller models for smaller budgets.
I have never found anything that came close to the dreamboxes in features and ease of use.
The hackers choice
Yes, a starling omission, given its reputation as the platform of choice for people who like to tinker with their STBs.
Or how about the £60 Openbox with a cheap USB HDD attached - does pretty much the same thing (yes you know what I mean) at a 1/5 of the price.
Digital Tv the biggest con of the 21st century. Bad picture quality. In the 70's you were able to watch motion without picture break up. All channels worked. Now every other week you need to re-scan to get new channels at the cost of losing ones that worked before. You used to have the ability to sort your channels into any order you wanted. You didn't get shat on by the BBC 'Press red' when ever a news or sport program airs.
I'll stick to torrenting and save the license fee. Maybe someone will design a decent box by the tear 2020.
Re: Red button
Generally, simply pressing the Green button makes the "Press Red" sign go away (and on my Toppy, I can permanently disable it)
The real problem is the DOG, the channel logo in the corner. There's no way I'm going to watch a programme with "BBC HD" blatently superimposed in the corner, when I can watch the same programme on BBC1 without it.
Also, it seems me that what Freeview HD is best at is making the encoding artefacts show even more clearly than usual...
"There's no way I'm going to watch a programme with "BBC HD" blatently superimposed in the corner, when I can watch the same programme on BBC1 without it"
I've always thought this is their strategy to get DOGs onto the main channels. They know people hate them, and had a hard enough time putting them on BBC3, More 4 and Plus-One channels, etc. But that's now going to stop them doing it.
The obvious way is to include them from the very beginning on terrestrial HD channels, when they're still thought of as alternative digital channels. Then, as the public slowly break the habit of watching SD channels when there's an HD version available, and transition onto HD channels, these DOGs will effectively sneak onto their TVs on the remaining channels which don't use them.
People won't make a fuss because "they've always been there".
So by pressing green, it makes it interactive TV. What happened to passive TV viewing? I don't want to have to fish out a remote every time the BBC chooses to show sport. There is no reason for them to it. Teletext was never rammed down peoples throats. You chose to press text when YOU wanted teletext.
Nearly had C4 in tears
Complaining about C4HD logo as it is terrible and ruins films. How many insults for marketing twonks is there?
And why has BBC dropped its promise to keep the turd off dramas and films.
Good job I NEVER watch films on TV anymore.
Multiple channel recording
I just want something that can record multiple channels at once....:p
Which is exactly what anything with a "dual tuner" in it can do.
And the really clever ones can set a tuner to a single MUX and then record multiple channels from it a the same time. An old PC PCI product I have used for the past six years could do that - on a single tuner.
Dual tuner = dual record = not necessarily
The Samsung model reviewed here will only record from one of its tuners, and this always used to be a very widespread state of affairs. Some units were fine but under-sold, because "watch one, record one" sounded better to the unwashed masses than "record two", when they would actually do either - but not universally so.
Ain't it wonderful.
All these latest FreeView boxes all nice and shiny, crammed with with the latest must-have features. But for what?
What's really worth watching on Freeview - HD or otherwise?..........................anybody?...............
dr who, merlin, top gear. are the big ones
on Pick TV.
BBC Radio 4 Extra is good fun too. And Dave, if you like the stuff they have.
Yes, repeats; so what?
Why did we come down from the trees?
"But for what?"
So that the large vertical bands that ran down my TV screen on the four analogue channels I could pick up well due to large buildings that had gone up in my vicinity 20 years ago, would go away.
And so that I could pick up Channel 5 without all that snow.
And so that I could watch old shows like The Professionals, Sweeney or Minder that would never have been repeated in a million years on analogue TV.
And so that I could watch TV on a huge screen in my living room without the picture looking like I was viewing through the bottom of two Pepsi bottles due to stretching a fuzzy 576-line analogue image across a 50" LCD display.
And so that I have access to a rolling news channel on the occasions I'd like to watch it (such as riots or natural disasters).
And so that I could click one button to record a whole series instead of having to enter the times and dates of every episode of a series into the LCD of a VCR, not helped by the fact it could only store 8 timers and many shows no longer broadcast at a consistent time each week.
And... so many more reasons besides.
Frankly, I'm baffled by your attitude on an techno-savvy website like this. It's not like you're asking what's the point of Twitter or the MS ribbon. You're seriously not seeing any benefits in Freeview (HD, recording or otherwise) over analogue TV!
I bet you're an IT middle manager who gets to decide what equipment to buy for the real staff to use. Staff who'll spend the next three years of their work hours wasting most of it as they try their best to compete against your 21st century rivals with woefully underpowered and not-very-suitable kit running Windows 98 because you think the jury's still out on all this 'NT' stuff.
Raid array? What's wrong with just buying yet another box of external HDs, with each employee name written on them in white marker? if it's important, we'll just burn it to CDR. Simples.
to be fair I must say I use iplayer more than BBC and if the other channels had similar offerings that can be played on XBMC i'd use those too (the itv one has horrific compression). Maybe a recorder would help me out. Still, i'd want it to replace the XBMC so ethernet streaming would need to work too.
Are you serious?
You didn't include the Digital Stream DHR8205?
I flicked through all 5 pages scanning for the DS, and when I didn't see it listed, didn't bother wasting my time wading through the text.
How anyone appointing themselves as an expert qualified to write a review/buyers' guide can not mention Digital Stream is beyond me...
Digital Stream was asked to supply a review sample for this new round-up but it declined because the current models are relatively old and due to be replaced in the near future.
It's a similar case with the Fetch TV Smartbox, which is about to have an overhaul of its firmware and user interface.
Review stock was not available for the Sony HDT500 either, and it's said to be in very short supply at retailers at the moment.
No Sony HDT500
Omitting the Sony Freeview HD also seems like a mistake.