Humax STA-1200 BSW: The “world slimmest soundbar”

humax-soundbar

Humax, a UK provider of specialist digital set-top boxes, has entered the audio market, launching what the company claims to be the “world’s slimmest” soundbar. The STA-1200 BSW is a compact and stylish soundbar, which, according to the Humax press release, is packed with incredible audio.

Despite being just 20mm thick, the STA-1200 BSW blasts out 80W of sound from a total of four front speakers. The ultra-thin soundbar comes with a separate 100W passive subwoofer, which has a built-in Bass Enhancer. As well as penetrating deep tones throughout a room through the Bass Enhancer, Humax also draws our attention to the wide spatial sound the STA-1200 BSW produces for a “powerful cinema effect”.

Coming with wall mounting brackets and a shelf stand there’s no excuse not to put the soundbar in a prime position on the wall. Set up, the company promises, is easy. Multiple inputs, including AUX, SPDIF and Bluetooth, mean you will be able to connect the STA-1200 BSW to various devices.

As well as improving the sound on your TV, the STA-1200 BSW can be connected to music devices and used to enhance the sound. The connection can be made via either a 3.5mm audio headphone jack socket or Bluetooth. As Pocket-Lint points out this means “Streaming music from a mobile, tablet or laptop should be straightforward.”

Whilst none of the tech press has yet to have the pleasure of reviewing the STA-1200 BSW, there has been a fair amount of interest generated from Humax’s new product. Pretty much all of the credible technology publications have made reference to the STA-1200 BSW and were keen to include the comments of Graham North, commercial director at Humax.

“Humax has a proven capability in delivering feature-rich digital home products and we have applied that technical expertise to the audio market, with a high performance product that delivers powerful sound into the living room for a highly competitive price,” said North.

The STA-1200 BSW soundbar is priced at £199 and was released on May 1.

If you’ve not heard of Humax, they’re the guys and gals responsible for bringing us Freesat and Freeview set top boxes. The brand’s venture into the audio market should be interesting to review. Though having entered audio with the “world’s slimmest soundbar”, Humax has seemed to have got off to a good start and their audio ventures look promising.

Humax Freesat freetime: Fixing broken TV

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.

HD-FOX T2 – Humax’s first Freeview HD PVR

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.