Humax DTR-T1010 YouView Personal Video Recorder Review

So YouView, what have you been doing these past few months?

by hodg100
Home AV Review

5

Recommended
Humax DTR-T1010 YouView Personal Video Recorder Review
SRP: £299.00

Introduction

The last time we got to look at a Humax YouView set-top-box we were left with the impression that whilst the hardware was solid, the embedded software managing the Personal Video Recording (PVR) functionalities was not quite mature enough to do it justice. YouView clearly means business, however, and a multi-million pound promotional campaign has also been bolstered by a major software update in the Autumn of 2012 that should hopefully have addressed some of our concerns. So there’s not only the new hardware to check out, there’s also a new set of features to investigate. How do you do, new YouView?

Design and Connections


Humax YouView DTR-T1010

Humax has certainly given the DTR-1010 a radical new look with its silver finish on the font facia and we like it - mostly. The vacuum fluorescent display behind the metallic front is certainly attractive and gives useful playback info, such as the service tuned and playback time but the illuminated control button in the centre is a bit of a misfire. Not only are the buttons, that give operations over Volume and Channel selection, ridiculously insensitive - we had to apply thumb with a good degree of force to get a reaction – but it also shines too brightly. We appreciate some might like this flashy look but when the lights come down we find it distracting. The option to dim, or even better ‘de-illuminate’ would be appreciated.

Humax YouView DTR-T1010
T
he remote control is unchanged from the version we saw with the original box and is of a vaguely hourglass form, although not so concave in the middle. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the handset but it feels well-constructed and the colour coding of the Record (red) and YouView (blue) buttons certainly help the usability of the package. The fact it can also act as simple controller of most TVs – by means of entering dedicated manufacturer codes – is a definite plus.

Humax YouView DTR-T1010

Like the DTR-1000, to the rear of the DTR-1010 are Scart and Composite video connections; the RF in and ‘loop’ out terminals; a HDMI port; S/PDIF optical audio out; a power on/off button; stereo audio jacks and a further USB input. It’s worth noting that despite the USB ports being available, there’s still no sign of a Wi-Fi dongle coming to market for either this or the outgoing product. We have spoken to YouView on the subject of implementing Wi-Fi capability and they confirmed its compliance is something that is being worked on for future versions. The sooner the better we think as if the DTR-1010 is to be used to its full, it needs an internet connection and not everyone has a wired one near their TV. Of course you could use a mains supply adapter solution or trail wires but that’s an obstacle to the on-demand content that shouldn’t really exist in this day and age.

Set Up and Menus

Initial set up of the DTR-1010 takes a little investment in time but once services are tuned and your location and network status are confirmed, you’ll be up and running. The bread and butter of making a PVR rewarding to use comes from providing an intuitive and attractive Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) and YouView certainly delivers that. There’s a certain colour preference here but we find the pale greenish-blue theme very easy on the eye.

The EPG presents a 6 channel/1 and half hour view with a timeline running down the channels to show the current status, where programmes highlighted in light grey are currently on air and those in dark grey surroundings are upcoming. A date ticker runs across the top, making it simple to plan future timers and viewing by means of using the Fast Forward and Rewind Buttons of the remote control. Of course, one of the major selling points of the YouView spec is the ability to scroll back through the schedules in order to access bygone programming from the BBC, ITV, C4 and C5. We’ll comment on the efficacy of that feature later on but we certainly only have compliments about the presentation.

All other interfaces are accessed via hitting the blue Youview button on the remote control from where 5 options – Search/MyView/Guide/On Demand/Settings – become available. The Search facility was previously only for use in On Demand services and it's good to see EPG searches have now been made available. MyView is basically the PVR control centre where scheduled and recorded content can be seen. We’ve dealt with the Guide and will deal with On Demand presently, leaving the Settings Menu.

Humax YouView DTR-T1010
Humax YouView DTR-T1010

The Settings sub-menu is split in to eight categories – System Information/TV Signal & Quality/Parental Controls/Subtitles & Accessibility/Network & Internet/Language. System Information provides Device Information, i.e Make, Model & Serial Number – semi-interstingly our review unit reports as being a DTR-1000, it clearly has identity issues. In here we also have Software Version; Number of Channels stored; TV Signal Quality information and Network Connection status. The TV & Signal option allows retuning as well as, again, displaying signal quality. Users can also set an audio delay to fix lip sync issues with connected equipment as well as the choice of instructing the box to always look for High definition versions of on-demand content. The Parental Controls include the Personal Identification Number (PIN) set up, the ability to restrict adult on-demand content and adult rated programmes. The Subtitle & Accessibility item houses, as you would expect, subtitle options as well as audio description and sign language choices.

Humax YouView DTR-T1010
Humax YouView DTR-T1010

The Your Info & Legal option contains the Terms of Use as well as the users Postcode, for some reason. The Language options allow for 4 choices for both Subtitle and Audio Descriptions, where available and might as well have been included in the Subtitles & Accessibility options. Device Management holds options for power saving, software update checking and On Demand Player update options. Users can also select whether to automatically delete recorded content from the hard drive to free up space as it becomes necessary as well as activating the RF loop through to make channels available to watch from the TVs built in tuner. Since we last had access to the menus, YouView has added a new 12 hour option for Power Save, which is good, and also the option of a confirmation message appearing when you attempt to delete a recording. Again, this is a good idea and adds to the feeling that YouView is adding to the usability of the platform.

Mobile App

Back in December 2012, obviously keen not to get left behind by the likes of Virgin and particularly Sky, YouView launched an App marking its first foray into companion devices. The app, currently available on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, provides listings for over 70 digital TV and radio channels for the next seven days, with full programme information details. It also allows users to record their favourite television programmes, onto their YouView set-top box, while on the move. YouView tells us an Android version will follow later in 2013.

Freeview PVR Functionality

The crux of our criticisms in our last review of a YouView PVR centred around its limitations and lack of flexibility when scheduling recordings. This is, after all, a unit that retails for around £300, thus putting it at the higher-end of the price scale. Unfortunately neither a major software update nor a hardware reboot have seen the inclusion of a couple of features we think needed adding post haste. One of the most fundamental things the DTR-1010 (and all YouView PVRs) lacks is the ability to ‘pad’ timers, i.e. to set a buffer at the beginning and/or end of programmes to prevent the missing of any action owing to an early start or late finish. Most PVRs will allow the manual editing of record times, at least at an event level, and some even allow it is an option globally but the Humax YouView box allows neither; meaning users will be at the mercy of broadcasters to ensure they update EPG information so that owners don’t miss anything. It’s a particularly glaring omission for ‘live’ events, in particular, as they tend to frequently overrun.

We’d have also liked the ability to create folders, search programmes in the EPG, set up favourite channel lists and delete unwanted channels too but it’s the missing padding option(s) that will cause most issues and. If the forthcoming Champions League game featuring Man Utd and Real Madrid goes in to extra-time/penalties and we happen to miss any of it because of those omissions, you’ll be hearing from us YouView!

Humax YouView DTR-T1010
Humax YouView DTR-T1010

We’re pleased to report that YouView has now fixed a couple of other problems we encountered last time around: It’s now possible to send 5.1 audio from the optical output and an incompatibility with older HDTVs that are unable to receive a 1080p signal has also been addressed and now HDMi output options include 1080p, 1080i and 720p. We’ve also noticed that the problems related to MHEG (Red Button) services have also been fixed and the general snapiness and response of the unit seems greatly improved. It’s now a real slick interface and if they can keep building, as they are, things are looking very promising.

YouView has implemented some other nice touches in various software updates too. Recordings can now be grouped by series in MyView and it also now takes less button presses to open MyView from the main menu. We’re also very happy to see the addition of a skip functionality to allow you to skip forwards 60 seconds or backwards 15 seconds while watching your recordings or live TV - provided you have paused/rewound in the first place. We’d call it an ad skipping function but we doubt YouView would ever be brave enough to do so. The ability to select a start point when playing a recording and a one button resume of playback of recordings are further little trimmings giving the software the extra coat of gloss it need and our feelings of positivity are certainly much greater than in our last encounter and parents concerned about all those adult channels that have recently starting appearing in the EPG can now be hidden from within that interface.

Software discussed, now how about the performance of the DTR-1010 at a fundamental level or, to put it another way, does the unit record consistently and reliably? From our testing, the answer to that is a resounding ‘yes’. Consecutive recordings all worked well, with no chopping of the beginnings or ends of timers; where we attempted to trip the unit up by scheduling clashes with three or more simultaneous recordings, we were immediately notified and asked whether a later event of the clashes should be recorded and the DTR-1010 also helpfully asks you if you would like to record a high definition version of any SD programmes scheduled, where available. The ability to view a currently recording programme before it ends, i.e. ‘Chase Play’ works very nicely by simply entering in to the MyView area of the Menus and selecting the event you wish to view. When the 500Gb (there’s a 1TB option too) hard drive space is starting to fill up, owners can elect to have the box automatically delete recordings that have been watched, or part watched, in date order (oldest to newest,) so, if enabled, may want to lock those cherished recordings (usually stuff the kids have scheduled) by means of the Yellow button.

Humax YouView DTR-T1010

Unlike some of the opposition, the DTR-1010 features no media playback abilities from external sources, whatsoever. In this day and age we’re used to streaming and USB media playback, almost as standard, from the boxes that sit under our TVs and at this end of the market, it’s almost a prerequisite.

Overall, the Humax DTR-1010 YouView Digital Recorder – or more importantly the software behind it – is a much improved platform with the only major criticism being the lack of padding and/or timer editing features. We’re sure YouView must be considering it and we really hope they can find a way of doing so as it will elevate its PVR status greatly.

On-Demand Content

It’s in this area where the YouView platform outperforms other recorders receiving FreeView transmissions. The TiVo-esque ability to travel back through the EPG to access already broadcast content through the On-demand players is a lovely facility to have, even if the broadcasters aren’t always that great at updating. Think of it as noticing something you missed whilst browsing the Radio Times but now you get a second chance. YouView is also unique as being the only non-subscription based PVR to feature the VoD players from all the major free to air broadcasters and therefore, arguably, gives you access to 90% plus of the ‘worthwhile’ content on the Freeview platform.

Users aren’t limited to using the EPG to access on-demand content either and the YouView software allows access to all the players independently as well as filtered content searches based on type of content – Films, TV, Radio or Adult - and then further within those categories – Childrens, Drama, Comedy etc. Because of the sheer amount of on-demand content the BBC provide, naturally theirs features most prominently but the others do get a look in. There’s a handy search facility too that works on a keyword basis and is very speedy indeed.

Humax YouView DTR-T1010
Humax YouView DTR-T1010

YouView also includes Sky’s NOW TV subscription/paid on demand service. Those that are currently subscribed to Now TV will be able to jump straight in with just their log-in details but anyone wishing to take up a new subscription will need to head over to the Now TV website to sign up. The Now TV service is currently only available for Sky Movies but Sky Sports, will be added in the Spring of 2013. Interestingly the Sports channel will be available on a 24-hour pass for £9.99, giving users unlimited access to all six Sky Sports channels. That may seem a little pricey on first consideration but for certain Premier League Sundays, big Champions League Games, Masters Golf, F1 etc, it doesn’t seem too bad. The pill would be considerably sweetened by those events being available in HD through NOW TV, but they won’t. You never know, Sky might allow it one day. OK, there’s no chance! A quick mention for those with children (or like Peppa Pig and the C5 kids stable themselves) is the addition of Milkshake TV that provides a very easy interface for children of all ages.

As well as being available through retailers, the YouView Boxes have also been made an optional part of the broadband packages of two of the partners, BT and TalkTalk, with each offering their own enticements for subscribing with them. Depending on the TalkTalk package, users will have the choice from the likes of Sky Sports and Movies, Lovefilm, MTV, Disney and Nickleodeon, whilst BT’s Vision service will work for their broadband customers. We’d certainly like to see more on-demand content available, sooner rather than later, with the next two obvious candidates being Netflix and YouTube but for now we’d praise the way on-demand is integrated.

Verdict

7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Excellent integration of on-demand content
  • All VoD players from Free to Air big hitters present
  • Presentation of menus and GUI is first class
  • Very dependable with recordings
  • iOS App

The Bad

  • No padding options
  • Zero networking or media playback options
  • Lacks WiFi

Humax DTR-T1010 YouView Personal Video Recorder Review

Humax has given its latest YouView branded box a touch of glitz and sparkle by adding a metallic-effect strip to the facia and including an illuminated control button to the front but it’s a light that never goes out and can be distracting during viewing owing to the fact it burns incredibly bright. We’d like to see an option of dimming/disabling in the future. Matters are made worse by the fact that, as a control, it’s pretty hopelessly unresponsive. Other than the cosmetic differences, the DTR-1010 is the same under the hood as the outgoing model but can be had in both 500Gb and 1TB hard drive options.

We’re pleased to report no major design changes to the user interface as it’s amongst – if not outright - the best we've seen in a PVR, with a pleasing colour scheme and easy to read text with options placed fairly intuitively. There have been some fairly major improvements under the hood, however, and the Personal Video Recording side of the unit is a much more polished affair than last time we checked with a range of usability improvements implemented. The lack of padding or timer editing remains the largest omission and thus annoyance, so we sincerely hope YouView is working on the one thing holding it back. Integration of on-demand and catch-up services remains peerless in the Freeview recorder class, although we would have liked to have seen a few more added by now. Still, in terms of a non-subscription box it maintains its status as the only show in town to feature the catch-up players from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

There’s no question that YouView means business and the DTR-1010 is testament to that by means of its well-constructed chassis, exquisite interface and an ever-improving software base. There’s room for improvement, certainly, but it looks like they’ll get there sooner rather than later. Recommended.

Recommended

Scores

Build Quality

.
.
8

Design

.
.
.
7

Connectivity Audio/Video

.
.
8

Remote Control

.
.
.
7

Ease of Use Menus/GUI

.
9

EPG

.
9

Recording Flexibility

.
.
.
.
6

Recording Reliability

.
.
8

Picture Quality HD

.
9

Picture Quality SD

.
.
8

Catch-up/VOD Services

.
9

Other Features

.
.
.
.
6

Value for Money

.
.
.
7

Verdict

.
.
.
7
7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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