Dual-tuner PVRs are now a lounge essential, particularly for those not blessed with a Sky+ box. Time-shifting and one-button recording are things that, once tasted, are impossible to live without, and manufacturers like Sony and Pioneer combine such treats with a DVD drive to make tempting one box solutions. But if it’s just straight, pure Freeview-with-a-hard-drive you’re after, Humax’s new updated flagship could be your gadget match.
On paper, the PVR-9200T is the most fearsomely heavyweight of all the Freeview recorders. It has a huge 160GB hard-drive, good enough for around 100 hours of telly. Then there’s the dual tuners, which let you watch one channel while recording another, or record two programmes simultaneously. You can even watch a third channel while this is happening, as long as it’s in the same multiplex – or group of digital channels – as the ones you’re recording.
But it’s not just big specs that make this Humax the gold standard of Freeview PVRs. The original PVR-9200T was a little rough around the edges, with some handy features like ‘chase play’ – the ability to watch a recording from the start while it’s still being broadcast – strangely missing. Thanks to an update, that’s now on board, along with ‘time padding’ for adding a few crucial minutes at the start and end of recordings.
Although picture quality is very good, there are some minor operational niggles. The remote is big and feels a little too Fisher Price. And the menu system isn’t perfect – it’s fiddly to delete programmes, and the recordings section is separate from the channels list, meaning navigation involves a few too many button presses. But the seven-day EPG handily includes a search function, which lets you type the name of a programme into a box and get taken straight to the listing.
There are cheaper Freeview recorders on the market – Goodmans’ range, for example, offers better value. And if you need DVD recording alongside a hard-drive, Sony’s RDR-HXD860 and Toshiba’s RD-85DT are better options. But for an intuitive, capacious and feature-packed Freeview PVR, look no further than this Humax.