Humax Freesat freetime: Fixing broken TV

By Shem Pennant,

TV is in an odd state right now. I’m one of the those annoying people who will say “I don’t watch TV” even though I now – thanks to Netflix and other streaming services – watch more TV than ever before. But the idea of coming home and just popping on the “telly” now seems as antiquated as a rotary phone, or opposing gay marriage. More and more high-quality content coming direct from creators – amazing web series are springing up all the time. And non-traditional sources are supporting content – Yahoo worked with an amazing team to create Burning Love and Todd Glass, Bill Burr and Moesche Kasher all have specials out on Netflix.

Free-Time

So where does that leave hardware? Well it’s blindingly obvious that the future of TV is “connect” and the ability to control when and where you consume content should be the minimum entry requirement for any entertainment set-top box in this day and age.

Humax gave us a digital HD freesat+ box with <> to see what a modern set-top box has to offer. Installation was a relatively easy although it requires a wired ethernet connection rather than wifi. I get the logic (stable connections are important when streaming high-def TV) but running cable across a living room is a pain. They do suggest using Homeplug Adapters as an alternative but it’s already heading into “hassle” territory and “old world” technology.

The actual box is a little on the dull side but you’re supposed to be looking at the content not the device. Obviously there are HDMI connections but if you still have an older SCART etc device you can still get connected. I found the remote a built builky and plasticky but that’s probably because I’ve been spoilt by the frankly amazing remotes that come bundled with Samsung devices.

One you’re connected all the standard on-demand services such as the iPlayer, 4oD and itv Player. And all the regular Freesat programmes are there if you dish/antenna set up confirms to regulations.

Remote

The main feature of the box is it’s recording functions and dual-tuner Freesat PVR is easy to use. It’s also quite clever in the way it groups shows together making it pretty intuitive to work your way through Homeland or whatever the kids are watching these days. You can manually manage recordings and the box will automatically delete older recordings if you run out of space. For £20 over the 500 Gb base model you can get a 1TB internal HDD which is definitely worth it.

There’s a little USB port on the front for media playback and DLNA streamng is also supported with the system is able to handle HD MKVs if you’ve somehow aquired a bunch of those.

Humax-1000S

The standout feature of the unit however is it’s EPG which is a delight to use. Navigation is fast and fun and the slick interface is one of the better ones I’ve seen on this type of unit. Finding what’s on and saving things you enjoy is a breeze. Oddly, there doesn’t seem to be an app to record remotely via your smartphone but I’m sure one is in the works.

Overally the freesat box has “a fresh spin on an old classic”. It won’t revolutionise the way you watch TV but if your viewing habits match 90% of the population you should fine something for you in here.

The Humax 100S is out now and costs £280.