New Toy - Humax PVR-9200T

Thursday 31st August, 2006
Since moving into the new house we've been hovering over the decision of ordering Sky Satellite TV. In our old houses, I had NTL cable and Jo had a freeview box so we examined what we wanted carefully.

We decided that High Definition is too young in the UK, offers little benefit and is grossly overpriced right now which left us looking at the Standard definition options. I wouldn't let NTL near my house again, which ruled them out, so it was a case of choosing between Sky Satellite and Freeview terrestrial.

Sky are the market leader in pay-TV, but only if you really need to buy the channels they supply. If you want to get, or in our case have time to watch, Discovery Channel and other similar stuff they're a good option - but for our requirements Freeview does very well these days. All the base terrestrial channels plus E4, Film 4 and all the BBC digital channels. Throw in a couple of music and shopping channels and there's a pretty reasonable selection available.

The big draw to Sky for us though was the Sky+ PVR...but again they like to charge. A charge up front for the equipment that will only work with a Sky subscription and then an extra £10/mth on the subscription for the functionality. I just didn't fancy that taste in my mouth, however affordable it was.

So we stuck with Jo's old freeview box for a while to see how we got on. It does a fine job but we recognised that a PVR was the way to go with our irregular schedule. We were missing a lot of shows on TV and downloading them from UKNova isn't always that convenient.

So, I hunted around for a solution knowing it wouldn't involve my Windows media centre PC in any way. I'd heard too many reports that it just wasn't flexible. One of those came from Warren Elsmore who doesn't have a search function on his blog so, once I'd finally dug the article out via Google, I found he highly recommended a Humax PVR. This was a few months ago now and I figured the market for PVRs may have changed since.

I was right, but none of the newer models have superceeded the Humax which, due to regular software upgrades, seems to be ahead of the game and pretty much the right pricing. They've recently added functionality for time padding (allows for programme overruns) and it also now allows you to watch a programme from the beginning before it finishes recording, just like Sky+ then, only without the £10/mth subscription.

After a bit of research for known bugs and reviews I couldn't see much that would be a problem so picked up the Humax PVR-9200T for £199.99 from Currys. Not my first choice of supplier, I've kinda boycotted Currys for their crap service over the years and the way they damaged G's wavy floor whilst delivering his new fridge. Still, they were on the way home and had stock so nothing much was going to stand between me and the gadget despite it being a little cheaper online.

Absolutely no regrets, it auto configured and worked first time; the RGB scart connection giving an excellent picture quality. There are reports on the net that the box is noisy, it's not. Anybody that can hear this box in use has either blocked the air vents making the fan go mad or they have a faulty unit. I kicked off 2 recordings on different channels to test and then proceeded to  watch a 3rd live channel whilst recording on the 2 tuners...impressive. This is limited to selected channels, only those contained within the same MUX as the recording channels are watchable, but most will be available during recording as there aren't that many MUXs in total.

To top it all, the Humax has a USB2 connection to upload/download from a PC...I've not tried that just yet.

So another great purchase and, due to the Humax RF modulator and flood wiring in the house, I now have digital TV and recording playback in every room in the house.

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