The TechniSat HDFV is a set-top box for high-definition Freeview HD reception, with an added feature to allow plugging in USB storage to make recordings

Like the Humax HD-FOX T2, the  is a Freeview television set-top box distingished by its high-definition receiver. So alongside the many standard TV channels easily available around the UK, three station can be enjoyed as free-to-air HD channels in certain areas — namely BBC HD, ITV HD and Channel 4 HD.

In our tests, we found the TechniSat HDFV offered a few advantages over the Humax, even if one of these turned into a cause for a little disappointment too.

Firstly, the picture quality was superior — evident in high-definition programmes as a cleanly etched image with slightly richer colours. And in standard-definition programmes, the TechniSat HDFV still had the edge too, with a sharper picture than that found from a Samsung LCD TV’s built-in Freeview tuner.

The TechniSat HDFV offers SD upscaling to HD resolutions, and while this is not the same as true HD quality it certainly raises its game.

Many modern set-top boxes offer personal video recorder (PVR) functions now, using an internal hard drive to allow both recording and pausing of live TV. The TechniSat HDFV is more basic than this, featuring no internal storage; but you can plug in your own storage via USB.

Thus, a USB hard drive or even a USB flash stick can be inserted into a port on the rear panel and configured for offline storage. We found this worked reasonably well, such that we could use the play/pause button on the remote handset to momentarily pause TV, or record an entire programme. Even HD can be recorded, on demand or with a timer.

And this is where we were let down. Off-air television is recorded to your USB drive as raw MPEG files in .ts (transport stream) format — yet these files cannot be transferred to play outside the TechniSat HDFV box.

To comply with HD broadcasters’ wishes, we were told, the .ts files are encrypted and become unplayable on your computer. More than this, TechniSat has also elected to universally encrypt all SD video too.

In normal use, changing stations takes around three seconds, while seemingly long pauses of two or more seconds were experienced when starting and stopping recordings.

Besides TV, the TechniSat HDFV can connect to a local network (via built-in ethernet, or wirelessly with a TechniSat USB adaptor) and play music and video from a NAS drive or Windows PC.

TechniSat HDFV

The TechniSat HDFV includes ethernet and a USB 2.0 port to connect external storage or wireless adaptor

We managed to get this to work, but as with the general setup and navigation of this box, we found interface menus that would have been dated after Windows 98 — and could be just as unintuitive to use. The Humax scores higher here with its more approachable Apple-esque interface.

For basic TV viewing though, we did find some interface aspects pleasing, such as the easy division between TV and radio channels, allowing quick jumping between them.

Build quality is satisfactory but basic, with a simplistic front display using seven-segment LEDs to convey basic status information. Power comes from an outboard wall-wart unit, and also included are a comprehensive remote-control handset and HDMI cable.

NEXT PAGE: Our expert verdict >>

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TechniSat HDFV: Specs

  • Freeview HD set-top box
  • DVB-T and DVB-T2 compliant
  • aerial in and out sockets
  • HDMI 1.3
  • 10/100Mb/s ethernet
  • USB 2.0
  • SCART
  • composite video (RCA phono)
  • stereo audio out (2 x RCA phono)
  • digital coaxial output (RCA phono)
  • infrared remote control
  • HDMI cable included
  • 12V power adaptor
  • 280 x 155 x 37mm
  • 3-year warranty
  • Freeview HD set-top box
  • DVB-T and DVB-T2 compliant
  • aerial in and out sockets
  • HDMI 1.3
  • 10/100Mb/s ethernet
  • USB 2.0
  • SCART
  • composite video (RCA phono)
  • stereo audio out (2 x RCA phono)
  • digital coaxial output (RCA phono)
  • infrared remote control
  • HDMI cable included
  • 12V power adaptor
  • 280 x 155 x 37mm
  • 3-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

There’s plenty of potential in this ingenious TechniSat HDFV Freeview HD set-top box, but its final execution is marred somewhat somewhat by a clumsy interface. We feel it’s been deprived of a fantastic facility to record broadcast TV in native MPEG format, for editing or viewing on a PC. Nevertheless, picture quality from both standard- and high-definition TV is superb.

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