Humax was one of the first companies to take the recording features pioneered by TiVo and Sky+ and then apply them to Freeview. Early models allowed users to simply record Freeview programming to the hard drive, something that was made fairly simple thanks to Freeview's electronic programme guide. But as time changed, so did users' needs -- they wanted to be able to watch a different channel to the one they were watching, and they needed more storage.
Humax's PVR-9200T is the logical extreme of this digital dream -- it's the most feature-packed and spacious recorder yet. With a 160GB hard drive, dual tuners and a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio output, this is the power user's machine of choice, unless you have a particularly argumentative family when it comes to TV viewing. Any issues are minor and not enough to spoil the experience -- in fact, we can't see Freeview getting any better.
We don't know if it's the extra tuner or the increased hard-disk space, but the PVR-9200T is much taller than its predecessor. Strangely, the fascia is split into two sections, with the logo, LCD display and operating buttons all packed on the left, with nothing on the right. It looks almost as if there might be a DVD loader on one side, but instead it folds down to reveal a Common Interface slot (for TopUp TV) and USB (for computer link-up).
Ninety-nine per cent of Freeview boxes connect up to your TV via Scart and the Humax is no different. RGB Scart is intended to give you the best quality picture on a CRT TV, but we've moved on and it doesn't cut the mustard any more. Read any of our TV reviews and we'll tell you to use component video when watching DVDs, and although most TVs will passably handle Freeview through Scart, we wish someone would release a box with component outputs.
If you've got an older TV, you can use the aerial out instead of Scart, but the picture quality is nowhere near as sharp. There's also a composite video output, but again the picture quality is much blurrier and less detailed than that of RGB Scart. The second Scart socket isn't RGB-compatible (so the picture quality is worse), but it's intended to link up to a recorder of some sort. Obviously, its use on a device that already incorporates a recorder is limited, and if you are backing up to a DVD recorder, you should just use the TV Scart into the recorder and the same unit's RGB Scart output to the TV. There's also advanced functionality thanks to the digital audio output and RS-232 socket, but more on these later.
The remote control looks like it's a joint effort between Humax and Fisher-Price. It's plasticky and a little too big. It doesn't look atrocious, but it doesn't feel like a premium item, which is what buyers of the Humax should expect. The company has the right idea hiding the advanced options underneath a pull-down flap, but it makes the whole unit too big. Channel up/down and the four-way navigational keys are easy to access, but the recording features are too high on the remote and spaced tightly.