Definitely getting better but still work to do
It has been almost exactly 12 months since Humax released a new, own-branded YouView set top box/personal video recorder.Whilst the product under scrutiny here is hardly a revolutionary device, when compared to the already reviewed DTR-T1010 1TB version – it simply has more storage capacity – there have been a number of software and feature updates released in the intervening time making it worth a revisit. YouView recently found itself in the news for reasons we suspect they'd rather they weren’t. Not least the BBC’s condemnation of BT and TalkTalk’s alleged hijacking of the platform in order for them to sell bundled broadband, phone and TV packages to new customers.
Politics aside, you won’t be able to get the 2 terabyte version of the DTR-T1010 through either Talk Talk or BT, so if you want the ability to record around 500 hours of HD, or 1200 hours of standard-def, programming through the YouView platform, you’ll either need to find a retailer or go to http://www.humaxdirect.co.uk/2TBYouView where it is priced at just under 300 pounds. So what’s new, YouView? Time to explore.
Design & ConnectionsThe 2TB DTR-1010 is almost exactly the same in outward appearance to the 1TB version we reviewed in March 2013. So there’s a strip of silver on the front facia which has a drop down panel on the right concealing a USB port, which serves no tangible purpose for the end user. It’s just for engineers to flash software updates through. The only cosmetic difference is an embossed Humax logo which features top-left of the front panel.
The vacuum fluorescent display behind the metallic front is nice and provides useful information such as channel tuned and playback time elapsed. The illuminated control button at the centre is more decorative than functional as although it can be used to skip channels and adjust volume, it really doesn’t work very well. Also on the front is a touch-sensitive standby button, over to the left.
Round the back is another mostly superfluous USB input, a SCART socket, a digital audio out, a composite video connection paired with L/R stereo jacks and a hard power button. There is also a LAN port for accessing the range on On-Demand players. Why on earth Humax has yet to provide a YouView box with WiFi built-in is a total mystery. The platform largely differentiates itself from Freeview on the back of its superior IPTV functionality so having to run it wired is an unnecessary obstacle for the box to fulfil its potential.
The remote control is also identical to previous versions and presents an ergonomic design that curves in at the middle making it very comfortable to handle. The colour coding of the Record (red) and YouView (blue) buttons also helps and it can also act as simple controller for most brands of TV giving you volume and power commands, at the minimum. Some brands will offer a fuller control suite but you’ll need to experiment with which button does what to find out as they’re not always logically aligned, in terms of naming and functionality.
Set Up and MenusWe really like the YouView user interface, but that’s perhaps down to our weakness for pale blue colour schemes. In fact, you can also change to a ‘High Contrast’ alternative if colour is not your thing which gives you a black, white and grey colour scheme instead but we definitely prefer the default.
The Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) provides a 6 channel/1 and half hour view with a handy timeline running down the screen vertically to display the current time status. Programmes highlighted in light grey are currently on air and those in dark grey surroundings are upcoming. There’s also a date ticker across the top, making it simple to schedule recordings and you can skip days in advance by using the Fast Forward transport button on the remote. For that matter, you can back up a day at a time by hitting rewind.
We like the blue but some will prefer the High Contrast option.
One of the near USP’s of the YouView platform is the ability to scroll back through the schedules in order to access programmes already broadcast on those channels with On-Demand players available through the platform. YouView were actually forced to drop their claims that this a unique feature after Virgin contested that TiVo offers that and, following that, Freesat now does so through the Freetime feature. Still, it’s a very handy feature that allows you to use the EPG as kind of a time-travelling Radio Times.
All menus are got at from the blue Youview button on the remote control from where 5 options – Search/MyView/Guide/On Demand/Settings – are presented. The Search facility is excellent, allowing you find content from both the EPG and On Demand Players. It doesn’t yet extend to genre searches beyond being able to filter for items from On-Demand, the EPG or Music Videos but it works very speedily and provides suggestions in a grey bar corresponding with the letters you’ve keyed in, which can certainly speed up the process.
The Settings sub-menu is split into eight categories – System Information/TV Signal & Quality/Parental Controls/Subtitles & Accessibility/Network & Internet/Language. The TV & Signal option allows retuning as well as displaying signal quality and from here you can also set an audio delay to fix lip sync issues with connected equipment. There is also an option of instructing the box to always look for HD versions of on-demand content, which we would, of course, recommend you activate – display permitting.
Device Management has options for power saving, software update checking and On Demand Player update options. From there, you are also able to choose whether to automatically delete recorded content from the hard drive to free up space but, maybe with 2TB to spare, that’s a slightly less useful option with this box.
Mobile AppA welcome addition to the YouView platform is the inclusion of Android support to the mobile app which joins the already, inevitably implemented iOS support. The app gives you listings for more than 70 digital TV and radio channels for the coming week, with full programme information details. It also allows you to set recordings whilst you’re out (internet connection permitting) once you’ve registered your mobile through the Device Management area of the Settings Menu. One thing it is lacking is letting you view programmes over WiFi and we see no reason why they shouldn’t try an implement that going forwards. Other than that, remote recordings work well and the EPG and programme info loads speedily. Up to 5 devices can be registered at a time so that should give plenty of scope to most.
The app could use a watch on device option.
Freeview PVR FunctionalitySo here we are, nearly two years after launch and YouView still hasn’t added in the ability to pad recordings in order to prevent them being curtailed or started too late. In the case of missing the end of programming, this is potentially extremely frustrating.
With the World Cup in Brazil looming, imagine your despair if you were to set a knockout tie to record, only to find that you missed extra time and/or penalties because the box stopped recording at the exact scheduled programme end time. In theory, in this instance, the BBC and ITV should update the EPG to allow the box to continue but how often this is done in practice is open to debate. All that said, England supporters may just be better off not seeing the inevitable carnage.
Other things we’d like to see are the ability to create folders to organise recordings – especially with 2 terabytes of stuff and perhaps having a Favourites list would be nice but we’re glad to see that YouView has listened to our wishes for channel hiding, allowing us to remove the various detritus that pollutes the Freeview EPG.
From a stability point of view, we found the DTR-T1010 2TB to be everything we expected. That is, it’s rock solid when it comes to making planned recordings. Consecutive recordings were all kept intact with no chopping of the beginnings or ends of timers. The box will also give you a warning when you schedule overlapping timers over more than 2 channels and we like the fact that you will be asked if you would prefer to record a HD version of any SD programmes scheduled, should yo commit the sin of not doing so in the first place. That great bit of PVR magic, ‘Chase Play’ also works really well and by going in to the MyView menu you can select a programme to view before the recording ends. That’s something that never fails to please. You can also lock recordings, preventing unwanted deletes by highlighting a programme in MyView and hitting the yellow button on the remote.
Come on YouView - give us padding options!!
On-Demand ContentIt is here where the YouView platform really pulls away from almost all the other Freeview boxes with all the public service broadcasters players’ plus Channel 5’s available, so you get BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD and Demand 5 and, that we know of, only a Samsung PVR can offer all those at this time in the UK. The ability to scroll back through the EPG to look for things you’ve missed works really well in most instances, with occasional sluggishness particularly evident through the ITV player. 4OD and BBC iPlayer perform far better – which doesn’t surprise us greatly, in all honesty.
The YouView software also allows access to all the players from a hub page and lets you filter content searches based on type of content – Films, TV, Radio or Adult - and then further within those categories – Childrens, Drama, Comedy etc.
YouView also includes Sky NOW TV and Sky Store, providing access to Sky Movies, Sky Sports and some of their entertainment channels and boxset collections. Naturally this will cost you either £9.99, for a 24-hour sports pass, giving users unlimited access to all six Sky Sports channels, or monthly fees for entertainment and Sky Movies access.
Newly added are some of UKTVs factual, comedy and lifestyle channels including Yesterday, Dave, and Really which are accessed by a catch-all player in the On Demand portal. In all honesty, we’ve never used it prior to conducting this review and, despite repeated attempts during it, we couldn’t get it to load.
Still, that doesn’t stop YouView from being one of the, if not the, go-to platforms for On Demand lovers and we haven't even mentioned Milkshake (C5 Kids entertainment) and the new S4C player. It's worth remembering that the bundled BT and TalkTalk boxes feature different and additional services so we'd advise checking their offers for details. We just hope pulls a blinder by unleashing Netflix on to the 'vanilla' platform.
The number of on-demand players keeps on growing.
- A great interface
- Superb On Demand roster
- Very reliable with recording
- Nivs mobile app
- No WiFi
- ..And still no padding options
Humax YouView (DTR-T1010 2TB) Box ReviewThe Humax DTR-T1010 2TB edition is merely a storage upgraded product over the existing models but there have been a number of enhancements to the YouView platform and software since we last reviewed one.
The box retains the same, generally gloss black, chassis with a strip of silver concealing a useful VFD display. In terms of connectivity, you get an HDMI out, digital audio and some legacy video connections. There’s also a LAN port but still, inexplicably, no built-in WiFi.
The missing wireless connection is a fairly big deal considering one of the major selling points of the YouView platform is its integration into IPTV systems and the wealth of on-demand and streaming services available. Hopefully someone will see sense soon and get a box out there with WiFi connectivity.
Those on-demand services mentioned above include BBC iPlayer, 40D, ITV Player and Demand 5 so all the big terrestrial players are covered and there’s also new services from UKTV including Dave and Yesterday to get your teeth in to. The DTR-T1010 also gets you access to Sky’s NOW TV and Sky Store content, provided you’re willing to pay for the privilege.
In terms of its PVR capabilities, the Humax DTR-T1010 2TB is extremely solid and reliable and includes excellent implementations of time-shifting, ‘ad-skipping’, chase play and series record features. The glaring omission for the feature-set is the lack of padding options meaning live event recordings, in particular, could be cut off in their prime. This is such a simple thing, we can’t believe it’s not been added yet.
Other than that criticism, we found the overall package provided by the Humax DTR-T1010T to be generally excellent, particularly with the on-demand integration, so we have no hesitations in giving it a Recommended Award. It would have been higher but for the lack of padding.
Ease of Use Menus/GUI9
Picture Quality HD9
Picture Quality SD8
Value for Money8
Our Review Ethos
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