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Dec 10 2009

Humax last night announced details of their next generation Freesat receivers due to launch in Autumn 2010.

The Humax FOXSAT-HD2 single tuner Freesat HD digital box will replace the existing FOXSAT-HD and include additional features such as PVR functionality via USB storage device (similar to how the TechniSat HDFS currently does). The receiver will also have an automatic re-tune function and be able to read file formats from USB including MP3, JPEG and XviD, as well as access media streaming over your home network.

The Humax FOXSAT-HDR2 twin tuner Freesat+ HD digital box, successor to the existing FOXSAT-HDR, will include new features as above, apart from USB recording instead opting for the increased size of a 500GB hard drive compared to the existing 320GB.

At the same time as announcing this information, they also confirmed an almost identical product range for the Freeview platform, due to launch in February 2010 in keeping with the availability of high-definition channels for the first time on terrestrial television.

54 Responses to “Humax Announce Next Generation Freesat Receivers”

  1. r1ch2004 Says:

    RIP Freesat. As soon Freeview starts offering all these extra HD channels (4HD, 5HD etc.), the box manufacturers and consumers will soon lose interest in Freesat. I can only see this going one way…

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  2. admin Says:

    How will that work for those that cannot receive Freeview signals r1ch2004!!!!

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  3. Maccers Says:

    R1ch2004 hasn’t thought that comment through. According to the freeview website, West Berkshire (where I live) won’t be turned on until 2011 at the earliest for freeviewHD. As soon as the iPlayer is properly launched, Freesat will be the best platform out there for features vs price. I just hope that these news Humax boxes will push the first generation boxes down in price a little. Ideally, we’ll see a price drop on the Panasonic boxes too so that a HD, twin-tuner, HDD-R, Blu-ray, Divx-cabable box down at the £300 mark. That would be suh-weet.

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  4. jon Says:

    any way they will soon be launching some new sat’s up soon for uk sat tv ( sky + freesat), so there will be more space on freesat for even more hd channels. alot more than freeview…

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  5. monkeymaniac Says:

    Freeview HD at the moment is looking very very tempting, this could be goodbye to Freesat from me, pluse get rid of the ugly dish. But will not be rushing into it, so you still got me for the moment Freesat.

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  6. locka Says:

    Astra is launching 3 new satellites at 28.2 between 2012 and 2014. Obviously that’s 3 years off but it won’t be that far behind the rollout of Freeview HD. And in the meantime, there is always the possibility that more space for HD channels could be carved out from existing capacity.

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  7. Wouter Says:

    Foxsat-HDR2: to me it looks as if those limited extra features could easily be made available for Foxsat-HDR(1) by means of a firmware update.

    Freesat dead: that would be crazy. They just need to make a huge effort to reshuffle some channels on the satellite, or even encrypt all UK FTA channels but you simply get 1 decoder card per registered UK household. There are always solutions available, people just need to make an effort.

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  8. monkeymaniac Says:

    Ah! Why not have best both, Freesat & Freeview. Would be nice if Humax
    could make one box with both on the above mentioned, good for the enviroment as well, less to recycle or landefill for those who can’t be bothered to recycle.

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  9. Mark Aberfan Aerials Says:

    What we need is a Freeview / Freesat hd combi hdr to give the public the best of both worlds in one convenient package, If it could retail for less than £450 it could become a dream product for the customers, Just think 4 (or more) channel record & the largest range of free hd channels, Free tv couldn’t get much better !

    Mark Aberfan Aerials

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  10. Rod Says:

    I agree in that could not some of these updates be implemeted as a firmware update to the existing hardware. The icord which is similar to the HDR can record 4 chanels and I beleive network. I may be wrong on the later but the hardware is pretty similar. I’ve really been hoping that Humax would allow me the choice of streaming recordings from my HDR to say my laptop in the bedroom. I think both Humax and Freesat have missed a great opportunity this Xmas in not gettig an extra HD channel or two on the EPG or implemeting a new feature or two on the receiver.

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  11. monkeymaniac Says:

    Totaly agree Mark! (post 8).

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  12. John_M Says:

    I wouldn’t get my hopes up for this product being delivered by Autumn 2010. “Freesat” products have tended to be delivered (very) late.

    Curious though, why would they make the comment that a year from now they are going to replace their old box with a new box? How is that likely to impact sales of current Freesat hardware?

    I agree with Wouter, some of those features could be applied to the current hardware through a firmware update.

    The ethernet connection on my hdr has been good for sweet nothing since I bought it. Perhaps the iplayer will land by Christmas, but the prospect of Humax building new technology into their HDR doesn’t really suggest that you’ll actually be able to stream media. Or does it?

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  13. RoZo Says:

    Will the new products allow timer recording in non-freesat (missed out of the current updates)?
    Why wait until Autumn 2010, they have already launched the HD+ in Germany with internet access? Beware its cost though 649 euro!
    Freeview HD advance networks are already running on London and the NW hence the Feb 2010 date.

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  14. Froggie Says:

    Yep, a Freeview / Freesat hd combi would be just perfect, especially if it was integrated into an HD TV and also included a Web browser such as Firefox and full size keyboard :)

    I can dream.

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  15. Peter (bobmarleypeople) Says:

    @jon where did you hear that? If that’s true, that’s great news! More channels and, hopefully, more HD channels for Freesat. Can you cite your source please?

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  16. Ash Says:

    These two STB’s are not really “next gen” are they. I would expect at least 3 tuners, freeview HD receiver included, Wi-Fi connection for media streaming, BBC iPlayer and/maybe Canvas, maybe internet TV for youtube etc and remote record, and another higher spec model with blu-ray player (maybe recorder), Now that would be what I call “next gen”

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  17. Joel Says:

    Hi, I know this is a bit “off-topic” but please can someone see if they get the same result as me on their Humax FoxsatPVR – no one at Humax can seem to help me out and indeed they’re advising me to package up my box and send it back to them. (warning : you have to be an X-Factor fan to try this out!)
    The issue is this..I go into Guide and find X-Factor on ITV for this Saturday 12th Dec and set “Record whole series”. And then when I flick forward a day (still within Guide) to Sunday I see that there is a Record icon alongside X-Factor as i’d expect.
    However, when I then go to Schedule i see X-Factor only listed once to record
    Saturday’s show, with no mention of Sunday’s show! Do you get the same
    result? Thanks in advance coz this is driving me mad!

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  18. digital Says:

    I’ve had two of the present generation Humax Foxsat+ PVRs and they’ve both been returned for a refund. I very much doubt that I would go for the newly announced box based on this previous experience, the very much delayed firmware update and the (still) poor user interface.

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  19. Alan Says:

    To joel 17 that is the way it has always been it just shows next time it is on if you have set to record all that is what it will do. if you go allong the EPG just press fast forward once to jump to Sunday you will see sundays marked,

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  20. llangatwgnedd Says:

    Sky will be the biggest loser when Freeview HD fires up, not Freesat.

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  21. chrislayeruk Says:

    Why do people think having Freesat precludes Freview (SD or HD)
    Just have both, “simples”.
    I have my Freeview PVR I have my Freesat box. My TV is Freeview also Analog and Sat.
    So, even with all this I dont record much (No time to watch it) and I often feel that there is not much worth watching most of the time.
    HD Picture is great, but on my Pioneer 5090, Sd Picture is great too.
    If your hankering after iplayer then Picture quality is of little interest to you anyway. (It is great for Radio)
    Television is no route to happiness IMHO lol Chris

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  22. Derek Says:

    It is going to be several years before Freeview HD is available around the UK. Some areas will never have it, which is why Freesat is so useful. It has much wider coverage.

    The only area currently enabled is Crystal Palace (6 December) but there is no commercially available equipment on sale at the moment to receive it. No doubt the engineers and Beta testers are enjoying it. :-)

    People will always try to knock Freesat – I am sure Sky would be delighted to see the back of it!!

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  23. Pete Woods Says:

    I was under the impression that the bandwidth for use with FreeView HD was limited. They have been re-organising the channels (such as CH5) to allow a separate bouquet/ cluster of HD channels to be inserted BUT … once they are in place then I am guessing that there is no more room at the inn! You’ll receive the first wave of HD channels then they will have to build a different box (again) or find a new way of compressing the channels to fit into the available space.

    This is why I went the FreeSat route. Not enough space … beg some more space from uncle Rupert who’s character we can’t comment on but Jocob Marley will be paying him a visit I’m sure… or put up another satellite into the cluster as mentioned in post #6.

    Another reason for going FreeSat is the resilliance of the signal. I have very suprized at the fact that I haven’t lost reception since I put it up compared to my FreeView picture losing it now and again in the wet and windy weather we have been having.

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  24. Al (Original) Says:

    I’m sensing some fundamental mistakes again here for the HDR2:

    1. Hard drive is too small. 500Gb isn’t enough as people buying a PVR for around £300 are likely to be quite enthusiastic tv users. 750GB min or even 1TB would be a better choice. I’d currently be 100% full if I had a 500Gb drive (I’m 48% full on a 1TB).

    2. One fundamental complaint from the HDR the box’s upscaling abilities seem to have also been missed. Anyone who’s owned a Denon 1940 DVD player or similar model in their range will be able to tell you how superb the upscaling fron the Faroudja chipset was, almost Blu Ray quality. Whereas the Humax HDR currently is worse than many TV’s internal upscaler. Why don’t Humax take the opportunity in redesign to give the HDR class leading upscaling and thus a new standard in picture quality – if the box is leaps ahead of the competition for picture quality, thats bound to be a major selling feature even if it means a £40 or £50 price increase.

    3. No mention of chipset power here but clearly the box needs a more powerful processor as the current box is limited in software features because of lack of power.

    4. Recording editing, again no mention but a much requested feature – the ability to to do a basic edit removing the commercial breaks before, after and during a programme.

    5. Along the same lines, the ability for the Humax to create a single file automatically out of a split recording instead of the current two. Many find it extremely irritating that where there is a promgramme eg a film that is seperated by a commercial break, you get two seperate recording files instead of one single one. Its a bit like the old days when you had to turn a DVD over half way through a film!

    6. Non Freesat mode support. One of the most disappointing aspects of the current HDR is the lack of recording support for non Freesat mode. Humax really need to address this in the next version and bring in an epg for Non Freesat recording and the ability for the box to record in either mode irrespective of what mode its in at the time.

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  25. Derek Says:

    Excellent post Al @24.

    I will add two other suggestions.

    1. The ability to switch between Freesat and Non-Freesat mode much more easily. On Panasonic it is a button on the handset.

    2. On Panasonic the BBC Red Button streams (Stream 0 to Stream 6) are available as seven separate channels in Non-Freesat mode. So you can just quickly flick through the (mainly) sport to see what is showing, and enjoy it with excellent upscaling. No messing about with the Red Button and delays while you “Please wait”. Humax does not even separate the channels at the moment and the only access is via red button. This must be a software tweak if Panasonic can display the channels individually.

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  26. Bob H Says:

    The fundamental change in the new Humax boxes is new silicon which has substantially more processing power than the current Foxsats and a revised architecture to exploit the available power.

    It isn’t possible to roll back the changes as Wouter would wish because the older silicon just doesn’t cut the mustard for going forward. We wanted to do a lot more with the Foxsat range of products before we launched them but we found too many roadblocks along the way. The steady march of technology growth with a new architecture and increased processing power will give us more flexibility going forward.

    The image processing of the new chipset is also improved and the capacity of the storage isn’t confirmed. We select the drive capacities based on the optimum price point for a HDD in the wholesale market to give the best value to consumers. Currently we see 500GB heading to the prime value point but that may change by the second half of 2010.

    Wifi 802.11n is a distinct possibility by using a USB accessory, however experience has shown us that this is not very reliable, especially when streaming HD content around the home.

    Bob @ Humax

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  27. admin Says:

    Thanks for your response Bob :)

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  28. Al (Original) Says:

    Thanks for the reply Bob. I’m sure we’d all be gratfeul if you could bring the points raised in my post and Derek’s to your development engineering department’s attention. I know you’ve come across many of these before on digital spy, but these are issues that many people feel restrict the functionality of the box.

    The improved picture processing is good news, but again I’d urge you to reverse engineer a Denon 1940 (its only just over £100 anyway) and look at their faroudja upscaling. The current Humax upsclaing is so far behind many tv’s a small improvement will still only bring it up to tv standard and many tv’s are brilliant upscalers anyway.

    I had a Denon 1940 player and swopped it for an award winning Panasonic Blu Ray at more than twice the price. I’ve regretted it ever since! Whilst Blu Ray is good, DVD upscaling is not a patch on the Denon where I literally struggled to tell the difference on a good DVD such as House of Flying daggers between DVD and Blu Ray. Obviously with broadcast, you don’t have a DVD quality signal to start with, but nevertheless, the better the upscaler the better the final result.

    Given the Denon player costs around £100 now for the entire assembly and thats retailed, take away trade margins, distributor and import costs and I can’t see why the upscaling component would cost Denon more than a few pounds. Even at an extravagent £20 or £30 it would be worthwhile upgrade for the Humax.

    My main criteria in choosing the Humax over other brands was the reported picture quality in tests by reviewers such as WhatHiFi. In fact picture quality and reliability are the 2 main considerations for me when purchasing a box. Although price can’t be dismissed,an extra £20 or £30 wouldn’t stop me buying a box if the reported quality was so much better than the box that was £20 cheaper. Obviously if Humax could fit a faroudja upscaler for a few pounds, then so much the better!

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  29. Al (Original) Says:

    Erro in my post above should read in the 2nd paragraph “The current Humax upsclaing is so far behind many tv’s a small improvement will still only bring it up to tv standard and many tv’s AREN’T brilliant upscalers anyway.”

    Mistake in caps. Sorry!

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  30. Bob H Says:

    Al,

    I appreciate your feedback.

    Firstly, we would never reverse engineer a product, it would be immoral, we might study other products but only at a component level. Secondly: “faroudja” is brand name of ST Microelectronics since the acquisition of the company that previously owned the brand and to my knowledge ST no longer make separate scalers for HD. STMicro do provide the scaler technology in certain products, most notably some of their IDTV silicon.

    The silicon we have purchased for our UK products is based on another vendor who has also purchased a large brand previously well known for graphics processing. Their combined efforts has meant that our products are increasing in their video quality and I am reliably informed by a neutral third party that our next generation silicon has particularly excellent up-scaling abilities. Each chipset has it’s strengths and weaknesses and the silicon we have excels with some forms of video but is comparatively weaker with others.

    Comparison to a Bluray source is never fair because the source video is multi-pass encoded and there is a great deal more information to make use of. In addition the processing provided in up-scaling can never improve the picture beyond that which was originally sent. Often the best work is done in “de-blocking” to remove harsh artefacts introduced by the MPEG compression process and some amounts of noise reduction. Any change to the original broadcast signal to scale it must be done with the greatest of care because there is a risk of altering the editorial context of the original intended broadcast.

    On the cost front, you will note that we receive considerable feedback from customers that they would like to pay the lowest amount possible for the product and we always strive to do the best under the circumstances. The Foxsat range uses a good balance of components to achieve a pricepoint which is acceptable to the market. When selecting a component we must consider how much the majority in the market is willing to pay in order to maximise the sales of the product without sacrificing quality. We could easily spend a great deal more on a product that we currently do but we would not achieve the volumes to make production profitable.

    It is interesting to note that in our experience something as simple as a larger capacity hard disk in the product does not make it an attractive offering to consumers. Demand is why we only produce a limited volume of Freeview PVRs with large capacity HDDs. As demand increases for features or as price makes them acceptable to the market we introduce improvements.

    Regards,

    Bob

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  31. Al (Original) Says:

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the further reply.

    Maybe reverse engineer was the wrong term to use but I’m sure you knew what I meant. Examine what others have done and see if you can buy in the same product (legitimately) for use in your boxes. Given you’re producing entirely different product lines with no marketing conflicts, maybe Denon in Japan would be willing to assist you with this if you approached them. I really can’t emphasise enough the amazing performance of their chipset. When a £100 DVD player outperforms a £250 Blu Ray for DVD, you know they’ve got something good on the upscaling side. Especially when the resultant DVD upscale is almost indistinguishable from a native Blu Ray.

    I’m aware you’re never going to achieve Blu Ray picture standard from broadcast quality compression at current levels (DVD has a lot more info to play with as you point out) and I’m also aware that the limiting factor is the quality of the signal to start with. However, the current HDR as it stands is outperformed by many tv upscalers and even these aren’t particularly noted for their upscaling performance. Hence the request for something to take PQ to the next level.

    I believe consumers will always pay for PQ provided you and the competition aren’t too far apart. When spending £300 on a product the difference between £300 and say £320 is very little when there’s a vast difference in quality. Only when they’re similar in performance or a long way apart in price, does the cheaper option make sense.

    I take your point on the hard drive front and guess its going to depend on how much HD costs fall between now and launch time. However, when you look at the numbers of consumers who made unofficial HD upgrades, its pretty obvious that the current models HD was woefully inadequate. I filled mine within 2 months of getting the box!

    It would also be really good though if the software improvements mentioned above could be implemented. I know there were some restrictions caused by the capabilities of the current box, but hopefully with a new from the bottom up design with more processing power and memory, a lot more can be achieved from the new model.

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  32. Tony Hales Says:

    The Foxsat HD2 is year behind the Technisat HDFS.
    Pity Technisat don’t do a Freesat twin tuner PVR though.
    Technisat lead the way others follow a year later.
    So far no problems with the firmware updates unlike the Humax.

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  33. Tom Says:

    Hi Derek,

    As you seem to have a Panny freesat box, can you tell me if you can rewind live TV on it?

    Tom

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  34. Paul M Says:

    Does this mean that the Foxsat-HDR that I bought 2 days ago will not now have it’s firmware upgraded so that I can stream media from my PC?

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  35. RoZo Says:

    To Bob H, Al(orig), Derek and Tony Hales

    Can I just add my weight to the request to consider the non-freesat angle functionalities, especially timer recordings being a very prominent omission (which the Technisat can do)!
    I know this is a freesat forum and the primary branding is freesat but the opportunity to secure decent all round functionality with multisat reception “exists” on the existing and new Humax products and surely just needs enabling?

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  36. SteveE Says:

    Add me onto the list of people not getting FreeviewHD for a while; I’m in West Sussex and it appears we’re not getting it until 2012!! Hence I’m now seriously looking at Freesat (including getting dish installed) ….. the only thing putting me off getting the current HDR is all the reports of the bugs in the latest foxsat firmware updates. Don’t know if I can wait until Autumn 2010 for the revised boxes though.

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  37. Derek Says:

    Tom @ 33

    Assuming you were already recording the programme the machine will allow chasing playback at varying speeds, so you can soon reach the bit you want. Personally I haven’t tried it yet.

    The manual is 143 pages (gasp!). I recommend you download a pdf from the Panasonic site and have a close look at the features.

    Some machines had an issue with recording from the EPG (remained in Pause and did not start recording). There has been a software update (version 1.1) which **seems** to have cured the problem, but I am still watching the functionality to make sure.

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  38. Tom Says:

    Hi Derek

    Thanks for your reply.

    I am trying to decide between the Humax HDR and Panasonic XS350.

    Annoyed I missed the £199 and free delivery deal at John Lewis. It will be months until it is at that price naturally! But I think that’s where it will fall to.

    A major feature I’ve come accustomed to on Sky+ is the ability to rewind live TV (which I don’t think the panny does – is this because it has no buffer?). Also I like the fact the Sky+ box records the buffer, as well as from the point you hit record, which I understand the Humax does not.

    As far as the remote goes, I remember thinking how much more responsive the sky+ remote was when I first got it. So I think that it’s skys’ remote that is exceptional and not humax’s that is awful?!

    @SteveE As is East Sussex, and London so we’re in good company, it would be nice to see our own Olympics in HD after all.

    Merry Christmas everyone ;)

    Tom

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  39. Steve Says:

    If they add proper non-freesat support then I’ll consider it.

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  40. SteveE Says:

    @Tom .. I think my main driver will be the World Cup next year – which puts these new Foxsat boxes out of the running :-(

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  41. Tom Says:

    Hi SteveE

    Yes that’s my cut off point before I splash out on one too, been waiting over a year now so a few more months won’t hurt. Although Rooney in HD isn’t the nicest thought, sorry Wayne you had to have some flaw!:S

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  42. SteveE Says:

    Now I’m confused, http://www.homecinemachoice.com has an announcement on these new boxes and they’re saying Feb 2010 release? Are they just getting confused between Freeview and Freesat or is this site?

    Bob H .. can you clarify please?

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  43. MikeB Says:

    This is a little off topic, but hopefully someone can help;
    I bought a Humax foxsat a few months ago and am generally delighted by it. My only irritation is when I press the guide button I lose the sound and picture from the background for up to 20 seconds (time seems to vary), however if I’m recording any channel or watching a recording the background sound/picture doesn’t drop out. Does this happen with all foxsats or is there something wrong with mine? I have the latest firmware and everything else works perfectly.

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  44. Tony Hales Says:

    @SteveE

    It says Autumn 2010 here
    http://blog.wotsat.com/page/whatsat?entry=humax_outlines_next_gen_freesat

    Feb 2010 is for the Freeview HD box.

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  45. natanddan1 Says:

    Lets hope the new upgrades have address the shocking quality of the remote on the HDr1…I have just purchased this and was shocked to find that the remote will not work unless you are no more than 2 m away and directly in front of the unit!!
    Yes…i have taken both plastic protection sheets off and changed the batteries!!!!!

    Think mine will be winging its way back for a refund…whats the point of a remote if you have to get up and position yourself in front of the unit to work it!!

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  46. RoZo Says:

    Have you remembered to remove the tiny circular plastic behind the infra red eye in the flip down cover? It is entirely impossible to see it is there. Worth checking operation with the flap down as a comparison.

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  47. Robert Hudson Says:

    @MikeB, YES I have had that problem from the Start, and it’s annoying.

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  48. Tony Hales Says:

    Sorry off topic but Food Network has epg data (allegedly) so is preparing to launch (allegedly).

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  49. SteveE Says:

    One feature that which I think would be brilliant would be the facility to stream PVR recordings between HUMAX boxes around the home; it won’t matter then whether you scheduled the lounge, bedroom, study or whichever box to record a show … as long as they’re all networked together each box would be able to view a recording on any other box.

    The ‘wotsat’ site and this site mention “Streaming”, but the HomeCinemaChoice announcement mentions the “ability to share PVR recordings”. If this means what I think it means, that would be a killer feature for me (depending on how it’s implemented). How about a single PVR in the lounge and then cheaper single tuner boxes in other rooms, all able to watch recordings from the main PVR. Mmmmmmmm. Or am I reading too much into that?

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  50. Ash Says:

    Bob,

    Why can Humax make a higher end model with Freeview HD (DVB-T2) built in? that way we get the best of both, you could add another £100 on the price tag for example.

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  51. Robert Hudson Says:

    Will this mean that the HD, and HDR1s will be put on the back burner as far as upgrades are concerned when the new HD, HDR2s come out, I bet it does.

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  52. Robert Hudson Says:

    (UPDATES)

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  53. fabioc Says:

    @Al (Original)

    You mentioned that the Denon DVD-1940 player is around £100. Would be interested in knowing where I can get it from at that price. Best price I have found is about £200! Thanks.

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  54. Richard Crichton Says:

    I see the Humax Freeview HD box is available to pre order at Superfi for around £170.

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