Which Freeview+ HD PVR?

Porthos

Standard Member
I need to get a freeview box for my Dad and I'm struggling to find an up to date list of PVR reviews about.

It needs to have:

dual tuners
freeview HD
slick operation
series record

I would also consider some sort of network integration e.g. iplayer ability and network video sharing. However, he's already got a PS3 so these aren't a requirement. The HDR-Fox T2 looks alright on paper but it's expensive and some people complain it doesn't work properly. I DO NOT want a laggy box. Thanks. :hiya:
 

Gavtech

Administrator
I need to get a freeview box for my Dad and I'm struggling to find an up to date list of PVR reviews about.
See this sticky thread in the PVR section.
It needs to have:

dual tuners
freeview HD
slick operation
series record

I would also consider some sort of network integration e.g. iplayer ability and network video sharing. However, he's already got a PS3 so these aren't a requirement. The HDR-Fox T2 looks alright on paper but it's expensive and some people complain it doesn't work properly. I DO NOT want a laggy box. Thanks. :hiya:

There are some aspects of HD which are laggy by virtue of the technology used [ MPEG4 compression for HD and HDMI secure interconnection ] and as such are inescapable.

Items 1,2 and 4 are present in all HD PVR's except some of the freaks which really are not of this category.

All HD PVR's currently have issues of one sort or another, some severe , some increasingly superficial.
There is also little economic choice about these matters when it comes to HD.
To get what you want you have to be prepared to put your hand in your pocket.
 

Porthos

Standard Member
Thanks for the comprehensive reply. If HD may be inherently laggy then fair enough, I just don't want the boxes interface to be laggy e.g. loading the EPG, changing from SD BBC1 to SD BBC2.

So what would your recommendation/s be? I'm going to look through the sticky thread but there's a lot to go through! I had (foolishly) hoped that there would be one or two market leaders that battered the competition. It looks like it's not that cut and dry.
 

Gavtech

Administrator
Thanks for the comprehensive reply. If HD may be inherently laggy then fair enough, I just don't want the boxes interface to be laggy e.g. loading the EPG, changing from SD BBC1 to SD BBC2.

As far as I'm aware, those kind of operations are not generally problematic.
So what would your recommendation/s be? I'm going to look through the sticky thread but there's a lot to go through! I had (foolishly) hoped that there would be one or two market leaders that battered the competition. It looks like it's not that cut and dry.

There does seem to be two 'acceptable' leaders emerging currently judging by general opinion expressed on this forum, which are the Humax and Digital Stream offering.

Check out recent posts in those specific master threads for those machines which should give you a feel of how those machines are progressing.
 

avhpmassive

Active Member
If I could sum it up, I'd say the following..

Do buy:

Digital Stream
Humax
Sony

Don't buy:

Sagem
TvOnics
Icecrypt
Philips/Pace
Technika Smartbox

That's not to say the ones that I've said not to buy won't be fixed to a satisfactory level in the future, they could well be. But right now, those top three function as one would expect 'out of the box' with one or two niggles that affect some users, while the remainder appear to still have several more significant issues that would seem more challenging to fix.

I own the Humax, before that I had the Technika Smartbox and the Philips/Pace HDT8520. All of these current Freeview HD PVRs have issues, some more minor than others. The ones I've said not to buy appear to be far less complete as PVRs than the ones I've recommended.

In my set up, the Humax has yet to miss a beat. It's recorded everything I've asked it to, which is more than i can say for the other two I owned. I did think it had frozen up one day when it wouldn't respond to remote commands. However, upon checking further discovered I'd accidentally knocked one of the top buttons on the remote. It's a universal remote, and I'd accidentally hit 'audio' as the item I wanted to control. Set back to 'PVR', problem solved :rolleyes:

However, as with all electronics, it's worth doing your research before buying. Because even the ones I've recommended are not perfect, the Humax I own has HDMI handshaking issues for some users, to name one example. Hopefully you get some useful responses here.

I noted that one thing you wanted was slick operation, well that was one thing that strikes me about the Humax. The menus and EPG are without doubt the slickest I've seen on any Freeview + HD PVR.
 

scgf

Active Member
I would have to recommend a 3view box. It is the closest Freeview PVR to a TiVo I have experienced with wishlists, more intelligent series links and, of late, rock solid operation. The firmware is being actively developed and it allows you to do all sorts of things on your network.

The picture quality with HD is superb and the SD picture probably the most acceptable of any Freeview device I have seen.
 

technogran

Active Member
I would have to recommend a 3view box. It is the closest Freeview PVR to a TiVo I have experienced with wishlists, more intelligent series links and, of late, rock solid operation. The firmware is being actively developed and it allows you to do all sorts of things on your network.

The picture quality with HD is superb and the SD picture probably the most acceptable of any Freeview device I have seen.

I agree with this sentiment. The 3View unit is one of the best around. If you do purchase it, do install the latest firmware available on the unit itself via your network

TG
 

lbear

Well-known Member
I agree with this sentiment. The 3View unit is one of the best around. If you do purchase it, do install the latest firmware available on the unit itself via your network

TG
The OP asks for a recommendation for a Freeview +HD box, not a generic DVB-T2 receiver with hard drive that does not conform to the Freeview HD specifications.

The Humax HD Fox T2 with the PVR software installed and an external USB hard drive provides a perfectly acceptable alternative to a full blown two tuner PVR because of the ability to record one HD channel while watching a second because they are all on the same mux. Since by shopping around you can pay as little as £145 or less for a 1TB PVR, the cost of this is significantly less than a conventional two tuner PVR. It will also do the media streaming the OP wants with iPlayer in beta test.
 

scgf

Active Member
No, the OP didn't ask about a Freeview + HD box at all, he/she asked about a Freeview box with a list of requirements. The 3View box fulfils all of those requirements.

It is interesting to note that the 3View does a much better job of things like series links than other boxes I have experienced. Other boxes often make a mess of recording a series because they record duplicate programmes, programmes from older series etc.. The 3View invariably gets it right.

I chose the 3View because I had previously used TiVo (including the latest VM TiVo) and a Topfield Freeview PVR and I wanted functionality similar to those devices. It was obvious that the 3view went a step further than Freeview + HD. I am so pleased with it I have ditched Virgin Media to concentrate on Freeview. The HD on the 3View is glorious - better than Virgin Media certainly. On my plasma panel SD looks better too.

I couldn't give a flying fig that the 3View doesn't adhere to the letter of the Freeview+ protocol. As long as it does everything I want and adds some more I am happy. In any case, with the firmware under active development I am sure the 3View box will always be ahead of the game.

I am aware that there is a vociferous minority slagging off the 3view box at every opportunity. I really don't understand why. Most odd. I think some people ought to get out more!
 

Porthos

Standard Member
Thanks for the replies, they're all really useful. The 3view seems to be an interesting little box with varying support.

Just to clarify, the thread is called 'which Freeview+ HD PVR?' However, I was not aware that Freeview+ was a specific standard that some boxes adhere to. If the 3view is really good, what doesn't it do that prevents it from having Freeview+ certification? Will it get it in the future?

As it stands I am between the 3view and the Humax HDR-T2. The former seems to be a potential gem but I am worried about lack of ceritification and potential lack of support (I haven't heard of them before). The Humax seems to be coming along nicely and I know enough people have it that support should remain strong.

Also, I've decided that sharing out to my laptop over the network is very important to me and iplayer like services are quite important as well. I know the Humax does this, do the other boxes e.g. 3view?

Thanks again!
 

scgf

Active Member
Just to clarify, the thread is called 'which Freeview+ HD PVR?' However, I was not aware that Freeview+ was a specific standard that some boxes adhere to. If the 3view is really good, what doesn't it do that prevents it from having Freeview+ certification? Will it get it in the future?
Oops! Missed the thread title! Sorry Ibear!

3View doesn't have Freeview+ certification because it does more than Freeview+ and as far as I see it the company didn't want to be constrained. Certification could easily be added in the future, if necessary, with a firmware update.

The one thing 3View doesn't do is the 'red button' - not that I have ever missed that function. It doesn't do the dreaded MHEG at all.

What was important to me was excellent HD picture quality and decent SD performance. The Humax SD picture is rather soft, a bit like the VM TiVo and Sky. The 3View is certainly better, as far as is possible with the low bitrates and resolution used with SD.

I am only just looking at streaming from the 3View to my computer - I have a Mac and need to find suitable software. It is never as easy as it is with Apple products. I have an Apple TV and regularly watch three quarters of a movie downstairs on my plasma panel and go to bed to watch the rest on my iPhone or iPad - it is just so easy and involves no configuring, setting up or tinkering at all.
 

Porthos

Standard Member
I don't see how meeting certification is a constraint, you can still add more functionality on top.

Which of these Freeview+ features does it not have?

All Freeview+ and Freeview+ HD recorders are required to include the following features[1]:
At least eight-day electronic programme guide (EPG)
Series link (one timer to record whole series)
Record split programmes as one programme
Offer to record related programme
Record alternative showing if there is a time conflict
Schedule changes updated in standby (e.g. scheduled recording starting early)
Accurate recording (equivalent to PDC) – programmes are recorded based on signals from the broadcaster rather than scheduled time. (Since this is based on signals from the broadcaster, the broadcaster can prevent recording by sending nonsense signals as a form of copy protection, as already happens on music channels. However, this can be circumvented by specifying a timer recording instead of a programme recording or by connecting the receiver to a traditional video casette recorder.

Is MHEG like when Wimbledon is on and you can watch different courts? I've just read the wiki on it but still don't get it. Why does it not support that?
 
Last edited:

lbear

Well-known Member
Oops! Missed the thread title! Sorry Ibear!

3View doesn't have Freeview+ certification because it does more than Freeview+ and as far as I see it the company didn't want to be constrained. Certification could easily be added in the future, if necessary, with a firmware update.

The one thing 3View doesn't do is the 'red button' - not that I have ever missed that function. It doesn't do the dreaded MHEG at all.

Which is why it did not qualify for Freeview HD certification and, because the standard has now been extended to include the IPTV extensions to MHEG, it will not. That means it will not use the new Freeview HD version of the BBC iPlayer even if it uses the other on-line versions. This could restrict access to a future ITV Player, the MHEG version of which is in beta on Freesat.
 

scgf

Active Member
This is what 3View say about the lack of MHEG in response to a question asked about the BBC3 & 4 splash screens when the channels are not broadcasting:

"The Freeview boxes use MHEG as a rendering engine. This takes digital data from the transmission and renders it on screen. We've chosen to use IP and the internet and not conform. This means that we can't handle the "no signal" condition of an off air channel as neatly. However, we felt this was a small price to pay for the more exciting things we can do over the internet."
 

Porthos

Standard Member
Why does extending the standard to IPTV extensions preclude them from meeting it in the future?

Isn't it quite bad that it doesn't do that?
 

scgf

Active Member
I don't know. All I am bothered about is that I have a rather good Freeview box which gives me excellent picture quality and does way better than all other Freeview boxes I have used when recording a series. I didn't want the soft SD image quality of Humax, having rejected a VM TiVo for that.

Enjoy the sunshine!
 
Last edited:

lbear

Well-known Member
I don't see how meeting certification is a constraint, you can still add more functionality on top.

Which of these Freeview+ features does it not have?
Is MHEG like when Wimbledon is on and you can watch different courts? I've just read the wiki on it but still don't get it. Why does it not support that?

More or less. It is the background "operating system" that generates the red button services but also the new Freeview HD facilities like HD programme notification (a prompt comes up if you are watching in SD and it is available in HD) and trailer link. That also throws up a prompt so you can book a recording from a trailer, even if the programme is to be broadcast more than 8 days away. Not all boxes have these yet and I believe only the BBC have implemented them so far.
 

technogran

Active Member
Which is why it did not qualify for Freeview HD certification and, because the standard has now been extended to include the IPTV extensions to MHEG, it will not. That means it will not use the new Freeview HD version of the BBC iPlayer even if it uses the other on-line versions. This could restrict access to a future ITV Player, the MHEG version of which is in beta on Freesat.

Sorry but you are completely wrong! The 3View unit was in fact the first unit that the BBC allowed to have the Freeview HD version of the iPlayer and it is fantastic, fast and quick to access. And the 3View unit is free to stream your sd/HD content straight to your PC via Windows Media Player.

TG
 

lbear

Well-known Member
Sorry but you are completely wrong! The 3View unit was in fact the first unit that the BBC allowed to have the Freeview HD version of the iPlayer and it is fantastic, fast and quick to access. And the 3View unit is free to stream your sd/HD content straight to your PC via Windows Media Player.

TG

Yes I do realise your enthusiasm for this box but you are now getting into the realms of fantasy. I specifically stated the Freeview HD version of the iPlayer which is accessed by means of MHEG5 instructions sent over the air, in the same way that the Freesat version is delivered. This from the BBC on 5 April 2011 explains.

Last week we also made an important release for Freeview HD. We can now offer BBC iPlayer to new connected TVs and set-top box receivers that conform to the latest Freeview HD specification, known as Dbook 6.2.1. This standard version of our application relies on MHEG-5, the same technology that powers BBC iPlayer on millions of Freesat HD boxes, and the technology long used to deliver Red Button services on Freeview and Freesat.
The first product to be certified for this version, accessed via the Red Button from a BBC channel, is a new Freeview+ HD PVR from Sony
The deliberately misleadingly named 3view box may access one of the several other flavours of the iPlayer, in the same way that various other makers access it using their own software, but it is not the Freeview HD version.
 

Porthos

Standard Member
More or less. It is the background "operating system" that generates the red button services but also the new Freeview HD facilities like HD programme notification (a prompt comes up if you are watching in SD and it is available in HD) and trailer link. That also throws up a prompt so you can book a recording from a trailer, even if the programme is to be broadcast more than 8 days away. Not all boxes have these yet and I believe only the BBC have implemented them so far.

Those may be small things but I would like them. Arghh, why have 3view omitted this!
 

Captainkremmen

Active Member
Sorry but you are completely wrong! The 3View unit was in fact the first unit that the BBC allowed to have the Freeview HD version of the iPlayer and it is fantastic, fast and quick to access. And the 3View unit is free to stream your sd/HD content straight to your PC via Windows Media Player.

TG

The Freeview HD version of IPlayer is accessed via MHEG. The version of Iplayer on the 3View can access HD content, but it is NOT the Freeview HD version, it's just similar to accessing it via a PC.

Whether one is, or becomes better than the other of course, remains to be seen. There may be no real difference between them to be honest, but the 3View does NOT access the Freeview HD version of Iplayer as you seem to be saying.
 

The latest video from AVForums

Are the TCL MiniLED TVs better than OLED? TCL Interview with Marek Maciejewski | AVForums Podcast
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Latest News

iFi Audio launches NEO Stream music streamer with DAC
  • By Ian Collen
  • Published
Musical Fidelity launches M6x 250.7 multi-channel power amplifier
  • By Ian Collen
  • Published
Is Google set to rival Dolby Vision and Atmos?
  • By Ian Collen
  • Published
'Tizen TV by Samsung' brands coming to UK?
  • By Ian Collen
  • Published
Denon announces five new 8K AV receivers
  • By Ian Collen
  • Published

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom