Humax HDR-1000S review
Following the launch of YouView on Freeview, Freesat has decided to fight back with its own smart TV service, Free Time. As with YouView, Free Time is designed to integrate catch-up TV into the same EPG as live TV. We take a look at the first Freesat Free Time PVR, the Humax HDR-1000S.
Its first obvious benefit is that, as the HDR-1000S uses a satellite connection, it's perfect for anyone that has a satellite dish but no aerial, or lives in an area with poor Freeview reception. The second advantage is that while YouView is very descriptive about what technologies a PVR can have in it, Freesat is less controlling, giving Humax a free hand.
So, while the Humax YouView DTR-T1000 has only a wired Ethernet connection and no Wi-Fi option currently, the DTR-1000S can be used with a Humax Wi-Fi Dongle (around £30). This makes this box much more flexible, particularly as it needs to be connected to the internet for all of the on-demand services.
As with YouView, the headline feature of the Humax DTR-1000S is its EPG, which lets you step backwards in time. For the most part, the TV guide works like any other EPG, but if you’re on a channel for which catch-up TV is available, such as a BBC channel, you can move backwards through the days to see the available programming.
If you find a programme you want to watch you simply press select Watch Now and the programme starts playing. There’s no need to traverse the many disparate and sometimes confusing app menus of the various catch-up TV services - you use the Free Time TV guide throughout.
The Free Time TV guide makes browsing previously aired programmes a natural and hassle-free experience, as it should be. It’s well organised, easy to navigate and it looks modern, giving you the confidence to get stuck in to the interface. Only showing you the programmes that you can watch on demand is arguably slightly more useful than YouView's approach, which lets you view information on any programme, whether it's available or not.
Where YouView wins, is that on-demand is built-into every aspect of the EPG. So, select a programme that's on in the future on live TV and, if available, YouView will show you other episodes available on demand.
If you want to access other TV programmes and get access to a channel's back catalogue, you can access the individual apps. At the time of writing only BBC iPlayer and ITV Player are available, although 4oD and Demand 5 will be added soon.
Even with the addition of those two on-demand services to Freesat Free Time, YouView still has the lead, as it also has some subscription services available, including Sky Now TV. YouView also supports the subscription BT Vision and TalkTalk TV services, provided you have a matching internet connection.
Freesat's more relaxed approach to PVRs means that Humax is free to add features to the HDR-1000S that it wasn't allowed to on the YouView HDR-T1000. This includes the Humax TV Portal, which lets you access online services, including Wikipedia, Flickr, Picasa, Teletext Holidays and the Humax Support website. We hope YouTube, FaceBook and Twitter will soon be added to the list.