Humax’s latest set top box is an internet connected Freeview model which lets you enjoy the service’s subscription-free TV and radio channels, including BBC One, ITV, and Channel 4.
Like most digital recorders, the HDR-1800T includes dual tuners so you can record, pause and rewind up to two channels at a time and, because it’s a HD model, you’ll be able to enjoy the new High Definition channels including Channel 4+1 HD and CBBC HD.
The box also offers access to Humax’s internet portal which includes BBC iPlayer as well as apps for BBC News and YouTube.
Connections include aerial out – so you can split your signal between your TV and the box – as well as an HDMI socket for use with a HD TV, a SCART socket for those with older TVs and an optical out audio connection for connecting to a external sound system or soundbar.
There’s also an ethernet port for connecting the box to your broadband router – necessary if you want to access the internet portal – and a USB socket so you can play films and music stored on external drives.
For the most part setting up the box is pretty simple – plug in the aerial cable and the on screen wizard will guide you through the process – but when it came to getting the broadband connection working I had a few minor teething troubles.
After connecting the cable and completing the set-up, the box reported that the connection had been successfully established. But trying to access the internet portal resulted in an on-screen error stating otherwise.
A reboot of the box eventually resolved this but not before I’d spent time repeatedly going through the set-up process and trying, but failing, to get the portal to load.
Once the connection woes were resolved, I found the portal and the apps within it to be fast loading and immediately responsive to inputs on the remote control.
Watching and Recording
As an officially branded Freeview recorder, the box supports single programme recording, series links and advance ‘green button’ booking for upcoming shows.
In addition, if you turn over to a Standard Definition channel which has a High Definition version, you’ll be prompted to switch to the HD version by pressing the ‘ok’ button
The inclusion of iPlayer is useful as it means you never need to miss your favourite BBC show even if you’re out or simply forgot to record it.
Later this year the HDR-1800T will be updated to support the optional VuTV service which offers a selection of pay-TV channels, including Comedy Central, MTV and CNN, without a lengthy contract.
A note of caution though, the box won’t be able to record/pause/rewind these channels due to restrictions in the technology VuTV uses. These limitations apply to all Freeview recorders capable of receiving the channels.
As mentioned above, it’s possible to play music and videos stored on a separate USB drive. These have to be DRM-free so your iTunes music purchases will work fine but encrypted videos – such as digital copies of films – won’t.
If you connect the box to your router, you can also send photos and videos to your TV screen from a PC or laptop.
The box sports a new, predominantly black design with silver, front-mounted buttons. In place of a display there’s a centre status light which glows blue when the box is one and red when it’s recording.
The overall look is refined and subtle enough not to distract from your viewing.
Though you’re not likely to be picking it up too often, the box is pleasingly light, thanks in part to the use of an external power adapter rather than built-in power supply.
Humax has reused the ‘wand’ remote control design from its YouView and Freesat boxes. Thankfully the centre ring of buttons lacks the annoying clicking of the YouView variant.
The HDR-1800T is a speedy little box which offers some useful additional features such as iPlayer and will look good under any TV.
When compared to many Freeview boxes on the market, this looks like a great buy and the £149 suggested retail price is pretty wallet friendly.
However, the closeness in price with Humax’s latest YouView box (£199), which offers not just subscription free access to the same channels, but also all the main catch-up services plus additional pay services, means shoppers should carefully consider their needs before buying.