The HDR-1100S is an attractive Freesat+ PVR that’s easy to use and integrates catch-up TV seamlessly through Freetime
Tuners: 2x DVB-S2 Freesat, Dimensions (WxDxH): 280x48x200mm, Networking: Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Internal disk capacity: 500GB, Warranty: One year RTB, Details: www.humaxdirect.co.uk, Part code: HDR-1100S-White
The Humax HDR-1010S was a great PVR but was beginning to look a bit dated. Humax has slimmed the design down considerably for the latest model, in part by ditching the front LCD panel that was available on the HDR-1010S.
The LCD was a bit redundant on the older model, as it merely indicated constantly what channel you were watching. Removing it helps make the the HDR-1100S look a whole lot less old-fashioned. Instead, a small colour-changing status indicator will tell you what the box is doing. It’s far less distracting.
The new model is available in glossy white or black, with the colour choices extended to all of the different storage capacity models. Previously, certain colours were only available on certain sizes, so now there’s no reason to compromise on either design or storage. The HDR-1100S is available in 500GB (£189), 1TB (£219) and 2TB (£299) versions; the 500GB model we reviewed should hold around 125 hours of HD content or over 300 hours of SD content. Recording is a one-button action, or you can schedule recordings through the EPG.
Removing the largely unused SCART socket from the back of the box has also helped reduce the HDR-1100S’ dimensions – it’s really not something that will be missed by anyone with an HD TV. Instead, you get HDMI and composite video outputs, and optical TOSLINK for audio.
As the HDR-1100S is a Freesat+ box, you’ll need to connect it to a satellite dish. There are two coaxial connections, one for each of the HDR-1100S’ tuners. With both connected to your satellite, it can then record one program while you watch another. The box can be connected to either an existing satellite, such as those installed by Sky, or you can choose to have one installed especially.
There are then no ongoing subscription fees and Freesat will get you access to over 200 TV and radio channels including 11 high-definition broadcasts. You can also connect the box to your home network, either through Ethernet or the integrated Wi-Fi – Humax has finally ditched optional dongles in favour of a built-in adapter. Getting the box online will be important if you want to take advantage of the Freetime on-demand functions.
Freetime lets you scroll through TV listings back by up to a week for the channels provided by the terrestrial providers. The content is actually streamed through the relevant channel’s catch-up service, so you’ll use BBC iPlayer for any BBC content, but it’s all accessed from a single screen.
You can navigate through the television listings through the EPG and, using the BBC channels as an example, selecting a specific program will open up BBC iPlayer directly on the relevant content ready for playback. It’s a seamless experience and at times easier than using the dedicated catch-up app, although that is also an option. All of the terrestrial catch-up services are available, which is great. The only minor annoyance was the ITV Player app, which lacked the polish of the others and strangely used low-resolution icons.
There are also a few other apps available, including YouTube, BBC News and BBC Sport, but the list hasn’t changed much from previous Humax boxes. You can play video, photo and music content from a flash drive using the two USB ports, and the HDR-1100S will also see networked PCs and NAS devices that support DLNA streaming.
Since launch, Humax has updated the HDR-1100S with support for Netflix. Its omission was initially one of my complaints, so it’s great to see it now included. It means you could potentially have one less box or device under your TV if your TV doesn’t have smart functionality built-in. The HDR-1100S is able to handle 5.1 audio, subtitles and alternate audio when streaming from the Netflix service.
The way the box lets you know when the standard definition channel you’re watching is also being broadcast in HD is excellent; a shortcut appears in the onscreen menu letting you jump right to the higher quality channel. This is much faster than hopping into the TV Guide and scrolling through the list to find the HD channels manually.
The Freetime companion app for iOS or Android is just as useful. It emulates the Freesat menu completely, only with the added benefit of a touchscreen interface. Considering the four-way navigation buttons on the included remote control are incredibly loud and clicky, this is definitely the control method we’d choose.
In the end there’s not a lot to dislike about the HDR-1100S. If you’re looking for a Freesat box to avoid ongoing subscription costs, it’s a slick and easy to use PVR. Recording content is easy, as is managing the recordings themselves. The interface is clean and, save for the odd hiccup, responsive and well presented. It builds upon what we’ve liked about previous Humax Freesat PVRs with a more attractive design. The only thing now lacking is support for additional streaming services, although the addition of Netflix was very welcome, so that there can be one box that can really handle all the entertainment in your AV cabinet. Buy Now from Amazon
|2x DVB-S2 Freesat
|1x optical TOSLINK
|1x HDMI 1.4
|Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi
|Memory card reader
|Video playback formats
|H.264, MKV, MOV, MPEG4, Xvid HD
|Image viewing formats
|Audio playback formats
|Smart TV apps
|BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All4, Demand 5
|Internal disk capacity
|Hours of recording on internal media
|125h (high-quality HD), 300h (high-quality SD)
|Simultanous channel recording
|Price including VAT
|One year RTB