Search online for a review of this box and you’ll find plenty of results from 2010/2011, those were a few years back now and technology moves fast.
I made a decision to ditch our 2TB Sky Q box in favour of this, why? Well despite it’s age, it’s an amazing box today and I firmly believe the comments online that there are no better offerings.
What is the Humax HDR-FOX T2?
It is a Digital TV PVR, specifically Freeview in the UK. It was released in 2010 at £300 for the 500GB model and £350 for a 1TB model. At this time in the UK the top offering from Sky was their Sky+ HD box with a 1TB drive and as a subscriber at the time, customers had to pay an additional £10 per month for the pleasure of viewing HD channels.
Freeview at the time started broadcasting a small number of channels in HD and as the HDR-FOX T2 was a top of the range product at the time, it was able to receive these channels.
More on the Humax HDR-FOX T2?
It’s gloss black in colour and at the front displays the time when on standby and the current channel title during viewing. A large power button sits in the middle with an illuminated outer that represents the status of the box (On/Off/Recording). At the top-right there are some static touch sensitive buttons for adjusting the audio volume and channel. At the bottom right there is a USB input for media playback, standard on almost all TV’s today in 2017 but it certainly wasn’t at the time.
On the back we have the antenna input and also an output which would allow as a feed to a second box or direct into the TV tuner – this could be used to watch a third channel if the box was recording two. There is an optical output and also an HDMI output – the max resolution through HDMI is 1080p which is consistent with Sky+ HD and Virgin Media’s TiVo. We have an Ethernet port which allows for internet connectivity (More on why later) followed by Scart and Composite outputs for those who aren’t using a TV with HDMI – many were not in 2010. There is also a fan for exhausting heat generated by the hard drive during recording and a physical power switch.
For those interested the dimensions of the unit are 25.2 x 38 x 5.5 cm.
The TV Portal
I mentioned above that the TV has an ethernet port, when connected to the internet you can use the TV Portal. As we have a Smart TV I’ve not used this at all but confirm that it contains apps such as BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Flickr and Internet Radio. At the time, a Sky Player app was available to access exclusive Sky content you couldn’t receive through Freeview.
Performance and EPG
As I mentioned we’ve come from Sky Q and we find the performance of the box very snappy with little hesitation and lag – it’s way ahead of the Virgin Media TiVo box which we’ve used before and found to be very laggy.
Looking at the EPG it’s very clear and easy to understand, whilst browsing the EPG a small window displays the current channel broadcast at the top-left. Compared to Sky Q it’s starting to look a little bit dated, but is very functional and provides you with all the information you need readily available.
As this is a PVR (And HDR) you are able to record programmes onto the internal 500GB or 1TB hard drive. These aren’t large in capacity today but it uses a standard 3.5″ SATA hard drive which you can pick up a 1TB on Amazon UK for less than £40 or 2TB for less than £55. The box is very easy to open and the drive is easily exchanged by a non-technical user.
The box supports series link and we’ve found zero problems with it – recordings are grouped into their own folders for easy organisation and a small pie chart displays at the top-right giving a visual representation of the storage capacity remaining/used.
Connect an external hard drive to one of the USB ports and you have the option to transfer recordings to and from the external drive. On the standard firmware, these are only playable on your box but as we explore the custom firmware later, there are many more possibilities here.
Recording playback performance is outstanding and using the Next/Previous buttons on the remote control, commercials are easily skipped by pressing two buttons. You can customise the duration, next skipping 30 seconds and previous going back 10 seconds for example.
I’m not done yet, the best is yet to come but consider the base functionality and performance of this box you can pick them up used from £25 on. The more you pay the better condition unit you’ll receive – I paid £65 for mines delivered and it’s in great condition. I’d recommend budgeting £50 – £60 for one.
This, is the reason the box remains very popular today. There are some clever people at Hummy.tv who have developed a custom firmware for the box that allows some unique features you’ll not find on any other box today.
First two points are that the firmware is very easy to install, I’ll provide a link below where you’ll find all the information. Second point is that the interface on the box itself (On the TV) remains unchanged.
Custom firmware allows you to do the following;
- Schedule recordings via a web interface.
- Decrypt recordings so they can be played on other devices.
- Customise the front light behaviour.
- Customise the front digital display behaviour.
- Run a DLNA service on the box.
- Access recordings via Samba share.
There are many more but these are some of the initial benefits and reasons why I use it – sometimes when travelling I’ll be able to easily download recordings from my box to my phone with ease.
Looking for more information on custom firmware? This forum is the place to start.