If you want to experience the thrill of high definition television but don’t want to spend wads of cash on a cable or satellite subscription, try the new Freeview HD box from Humax. It’s the first HD set-top box in the UK, and likely to be a trendsetter as demand grows for the pin-sharp detail and vibrant colours of high definition programmes.
For a one-off payment of around £179, Humax’s HD-FOX T2 gives you the usual 50 standard definition channels and 24 radio stations, plus the two existing free HD channels from the BBC and ITV in 1080p full HD. You can also use it to view photos and videos, listen to MP3 players, and set up home networking via its Ethernet port.
Freeview boxes tend to be refreshingly easy to use and this one is no exception. Taking just minutes to set up, the instructions are clear enough for even the most dedicated technophobe to get right first time. Automatic channel updates mean that once it is set up, it pretty much looks after itself, and no subscription means that you can forget about it once it’s installed.
However, for all the positives, there are drawbacks. You only get two extra channels and, when you consider that the price of a standard Freeview box starts at about £20, the extra cost makes those two channels very expensive indeed. But the good news is that more free HD channels are expected, with Channel 4 and S4C Wales being added imminently and others sure to follow in due course.
The other downside is the level of HD coverage at the moment. Right now, you are only able to pick it up if you live around London or in the Granada region, made up of Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and North Staffordshire. However, Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds, Birmingham and Cardiff are due to be added by the end of March; check your local area before you splash your cash by clicking on www.freeview.co.uk/availability.
Overall, the HD-FOX T2 is an ideal choice for anyone who is curious about the benefits of HD but wary of getting tied into a long-term contract. It is also a good option for those in rental properties who are not allowed to install cable or a satellite dish. And although there are only two HD channels at the moment, more will follow, and at least the existing two will keep you entertained throughout a summer of sport.