If you’re a Sky customer and you’ve been thinking it might be time to cut your ties with its ongoing conquest of your bank account, switching to Freesat could be a wise investment. See all digital home reviews.
Not only does it offer nearly all the same channels as its the terrestrial Freeview service, but you can use an existing Sky satellite dish to receive the service. See also: DVR reviews.
Humax is hard to beat when it comes to PVRs and Freeview/Freesat devices. Its products include simple user interfaces, and the HDR 1010S continues with this trend. The box is shiny plastic, sturdy enough for its sedentary duties, and available in black or white depending on your preference. The black version is known as the HDR1000S.
Connections are standard fare for a set-top box in 2013, with HDMI, SCART, Composite, ethernet, USB, and two inputs for the cable feed from a satellite dish.
Setting up took us a matter of minutes and once the unit powered on we were presented with the new Freetime interface.
The program guide is actually rather splendid, with an elegant green and grey colour scheme to differentiate between what’s on now, and what coming up.
As you’d expect from a modern personal video recorder (PVR), you can pause and rewind live broadcasts. And recording an entire series is as easy as a couple of button presses.
The interface also features a function where you can move backwards through the guide to see what was on earlier. If the programmes are included in any online catchup services that Freesat offers – namely iPlayer and ITV player – then you can stream them from here. First though you’ll need to connect the box to your router via an ethernet cable, or use the built in Wi-Fi capability. The latter worked fine but we’d always recommend the direct connection if at all possible.
The On-Demand section offers shows from the aforementioned services, alongside a YouTube app, and promises of 4OD and 5 Demand arriving soon.
Picture quality is very good, and as this is an HD-capable box you can also partake of the few channels that broadcast in this format. That’s BBC, ITV and a handful of others. For the more adventurous the connected box can also play content from DNLA servers on your home network.
The menu is reasonably fast in operation, although not quite as slick as Sky+. One element that does hold the system back is the horrible remote control.
It looks fine, but emits a loud clicking sound in use which we found quite unpleasant. Humax told us you can use a universal remote if it has the corresponding keys. There are no plans for a phone/tablet app.
We only noticed a couple of pauses while buffering streamed programs (usually longer HD episodes) and recording was on the whole trouble free.
A 1TB internal drive means that it will be some time before you’ll need to worry about running out of space. Actual recording time depends on type of broadcast but Humax lists 500 hours of standard-definition or half that for HD.