Review: Humax HB-1000S Freesat HD Receiver

Out of the blue, Humax announced the launch of their new single tuner Freesat HD box, with <free time> built-in. This took the industry by surprise hence why there are no reviews out there (at time of publishing), but behold; now there is!

Of late, Freesat has been stifled by a apparent lack of products available for the free satellite television platform, and this is no more obvious than in the single tuner HD box market, where there are just a small number of options, only one of which we see as worthy of the Freesat logo.

That was until now, as Humax has most certainly set the bar at a new height, launching a single tuner Freesat HD receiver based on the latest generation, known as <free time>. The <free time> service in brief adds to the basic access of 180+ television and radio channels via satellite with easy access to on-demand services via broadband from BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand 5, plus a number of interactive services, including YouTube; all seamlessly linked in to the EPG (electronic programme guide).

I have to admit I was concerned that the Humax single tuner wouldn’t have the processing power to cope with this new format and the fancy structure and graphics, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how capable it is, and actually seems as fast to navigate as the older brother, the PVR based Humax HDR-1000S. Clearly Humax have invested heavily in a quality chipset capable of the job. It isn’t perfect though, the graphics do sometimes judder when floating in and out and can at times take a few seconds to load the full guide, with further slow down during recording, but for the most part, it handles it all very well.

Humax HB-1000S Freesat HD Freetime Receiver
Humax HB-1000S Freesat HD Freetime Receiver (contents)

From the moment you receive the Humax HB-1000S, with the bright packaging signifying the colours of the freesat logo, to opening up and getting started, you will see what a quality product this is, and more so, be surprised by just how small the receiver itself is (200mm x 38mm x 155mm), yet how sturdy it feels with some weight to it (0.5kg) comparable to the size. The unit matt black and has plenty of vent holes to aid in air-flow keeping the unit cool, helped by the inclusion of an external PSU (on the plug, not a separate brick). We are greatly relieved that Humax have decided to go down the route of an external power supply following the issue of blown capacitors on the previous FOXSAT-HD unit; at least now if there are any issues with power, the whole unit doesn’t need replacing. The power consumption in use is a maximum of 13W and 0.5W in standby. The front is simple in design, just a green LED light when on and red when off; and a power button.

The Humax also comes with a good range of accessories, including the remote (almost identical to the HDR-1000S version), 2 x AAA batteries, HDMI cable and Ethernet cable (1.5 metre each), User manual and warranty card. This should be enough to get you started and the included Quick installation guide is simple to follow.

Humax HB-1000S Freesat HD Freetime Receiver
Humax HB-1000S Freesat HD Freetime Receiver (front)

The back of the HB-1000S includes the usual connections you’d expect, but most obvious is the missing scart output, which has finally been resigned to the scrap heap on this ‘HD’ receiver (obviously the lack of scart means a much smaller design). What you do get though is a HDMI port, single satellite input, CVBS (RCA out), Optical S/PDIF out, 2 x USB 2.0 sockets (both on rear) and Ethernet 100BaseT . It is worth noting that this receiver doesn’t have wifi built-in which is a shame, but an external Humax USB dongle can be purchased.

Setting up is simple, painless, and very quick. Simply plug everything in, switch on and you’ll be greeted by the familiar Freesat installation screen. The signal from your satellite dish will be verified, you will be asked to enter your UK postcode, check the picture settings (usually automatic so not much to change here) and scan for the available channels, which is almost instant. The installation will also check for an Ethernet connection and then you are done! There is also the option to set a PIN number for parental control, but you can skip this stage if you wish.

Once in, you’ll be greeted with BBC One on channel 101 and the 180+ channels available at the moment. The remote, which is laid out similar to the HDR-1000S is easy to use and comfortable to hold, allowing you to select and individual channel with the number buttons or scan through them all using the cursors. The only real downside and it is personal preference but I’ve never been a fan of gloss black and the constant battle with fingerprints and scratch marks. Also, it still has the possible issue of someone accidentally pressing the TV button at the top and it no longer controlling the receiver; an issue often complained about on the previous FOXSAT-HDR. The main buttons are all centralised on the remote though, which includes the arrow cursors and <free time> button which accesses the menu structure which contains pretty much everything.

Humax HB-1000S Freesat HD Freetime Receiver
Humax HB-1000S Freesat HD Freetime Receiver (rear connections)

The picture and sound quality on both standard and high-definition channels is very good, with the optical output a good option for Dolby Digital on programmes where available. These receivers are getting to a point now where the quality is as good as being broadcast, so in comparison, is very similar to its rivals.

I won’t go into too much detail on navigating the menus, as it uses the same <free time> structure of the HDR-1000S and there are plenty of videos out there showing how it works, but in brief, you can access the TV Guide (with forward/backwards 7 day listings), the on-demand services, the options menu, a Humax portal for additional non-freesat features, the Freesat showcase highlighting the key programmes that day (which is fairly accurate based on general viewing tastes) and a few more standardised options to help you. The quick banner found at the bottom on any channel by pressing the OK button is very useful, and switches from now/next to further into the future with the right arrow button. One thing I’ve not found which is a glaring omission (again!) if it isn’t, but there appears to be no ability to sort channels by those in high-definition only; this is a feature many have requested, so a shame if it isn’t possible?

A key feature of this HB-1000S, and one that hasn’t been seen in a single tuner Freesat receiver since the TechniSat HDFS, is the ability to record to an external hard drive (as this isn’t a PVR, so no hard drive built-in). There is of course the limitation of only being able to record the channel you are on, but for the casual viewer who might just want to record every now and again, it is ideal. It is disappointing that you cannot use a USB stick (apart from playback of a few basic formats), but providing you have a USB hard drive larger than 60GB (allowing 40GB for the Humax structure so we’d recommend a much higher capacity), then this is a cost efficient way of PVR functionality without paying double for the HDR-1000S, however, if you don’t have such a device, then the prices do become fairly similar totted up. (edited) It is worth noting that due to broadcasting copyright restrictions, for recording purposes, the USB HDD must be assigned to the receiver. The format used is NTFS, though if you try using a FAT32 or EXT3 HDD, you will need to reformat to NTFS in the settings option first and then re-install the HDD.

Humax HB-1000S Freesat HD Freetime Receiver
Humax HB-1000S Freesat HD Freetime Receiver (remote)

A key feature of this product that sets it apart from the existing range of Freesat HD receivers is defiantly the <free time> feature, and it works very well indeed now that you can receive all the main on-demand services. If you wish to watch a programme from the last 7 days, you can simply roll-back the EPG (TV guide) and click on the programme you want to watch, at which point you will be forwarded to the on-demand service via your broadband connection. On the whole, the service worked very well with the programmes usually available within 10-15 seconds, which on my terrible broadband connection was pretty good; it might be better on a faster line. I did experience a few problems opening programmes directly with Demand 5, but they were fine when selecting the Demand 5 home option first, so maybe that was down to my connection, or a bug that Humax will need to fix. I’m not a fan of on-demand services really, as I don’t like not being able to bypass adverts, but it’s a great inclusion following the trend and works well via direct links on the TV guide.

For those of you wanting more than the 180+ channels offered, there is a ‘non-freesat’ mode which allows you to scan for all channels available FTA (free-to-air) on the Astra2 and Eurobird1 satellites (the alignment your satellite dish has for Freesat). This option is basic, as it isn’t a fundamental part of Freesat (they want broadcasters to pay to put their channels on the official TV guide) but Humax have missed a trick which the rival at Manhattan hasn’t, whereby you can create your own line-up of channels (albeit without 7 day listings) and then access by a touch of a button from the normal Freesat mode.

Outside of the standardised platform is the Humax Portal, which includes a number of extra interactive services including Flickr and Wiki TV. Also within here is the new network client allowing you to connect to your home network/server to play back certain file types, which include but not limited to MPEG2, JPEG, BMP, GIF and PNG. I accessed a few AVI files through my NAS using a DNLA client and it worked very well, though obviously struggled with more complex file formats such as MKV, but that is to be expected. Once again, a great added feature and very handy.

Conclusion

For a unit so small, it is incredible what it is capable of, handling both the standard Freesat stuff and <free time> with relative ease. The receiver feels solidly built; looks smart and the remote is easy to use, though quite large compared to the box itself. The set up is easy and the supplied guides very handy for anyone less familiar with these products than I am. Once familiar, the menu structure is easy to navigate and TV guide looks and works very well. The option of accessing programmes already televised via the on-demand services directly is brilliant, even with the slight delay, and recording via USB hard drive is certainly a coup no other current Freesat receiver offers; ideal for casual viewers that wish to record programmes every now and again without the requirement for a fully operational PVR receiver (Freesat+HD). There are a few minor issues, such as some delays navigating the menus, and no ability to record to a USB stick, plus a reliance on accessing the on-demand services via a wired connection, unless willing to folk out for the optional wifi dongle. On the whole however, the Humax HB-1000S is in a class of its own within the single tuner market. At an RRP of under £100, this fits nicely between a basic Freesat receiver and a fully equipped recorder; and with access to all the main on-demand broadcast services (plus your home network), makes for a handy multimedia box too.
Humax have moved the game on, and the HB-1000S is worthy of top marks.

Joinfreesat score 9.5 out of 10
Review: Humax HB-1000S Freesat HD Receiver

Suggestions to Humax
Flexibility with USB storage devices and formatting
Wifi built-in or a faster wifi dongle available
HD category within TV guide
Improved non-freesat mode to set your own list
More unique model name to avoid confusion by consumers

Rumours
It is rumoured that eventually you will be able to connect this box to a HDR-1000S and access its recordings, using the main HDR-1000S as a hub for the ultimate multi-room experience. We hope this happens but will cover this in a separate review at the time.

Where to buy

The Humax HB-1000S is available now. Please consider purchasing from our key site sponsor, the UK’s leading satellite retailer, Satbuyer for £99.95 + delivery. Alternative places to buy can be found on the Humax HB-1000S product page.

68 thoughts on “Review: Humax HB-1000S Freesat HD Receiver”

  1. Richard said:
    Box crashes, today after only 17 minutes. Going to have to send it back.

    Replacement box works perfectly. Super little thing.
    Good service from Satbuyer.

  2. I can’t get this unit to recognise my external 3tb hard drive. It is a Samsung D3 and connects with a usb 3 lead that I believe is also backwards compatible to usb 2. The HB-1000S does not see a drive connected and there are no options in the Storage settings to format or do anything.

    The drive came formatted as ntfs. I have tried to reformat to ntfs and exFAT on my pc but still the Humax does not recognise it.

  3. Nice being able to play my videos, music and pictures from my windows 7 netbook using the file share thingy. Great little box for the money.

  4. Hi, can the HB 1000 version now access and play recordings from the HDR 1000 located elsewhere on the network?

  5. Brian said:
    Hi, can the HB 1000 version now access and play recordings from the HDR 1000 located elsewhere on the network?

    No, not yet. No indication of timescale either.

  6. Hi, I’m having trouble adjusting the picture format on Freesat chanel 401 (Racing Post live greyhound racing, the main reason for purchasing this box) & a few others, the picture is compressed making everything appear tall & thin. I find it unbearable to watch a distorted picture. Phoned Humax helpline they said try reducing the 1080 down to 720, did’nt work! The older Humax Foxsat box that I’ve now installed in the bedroom works perfectly! so much for “upgrading” Any suggestions? . If I can’t sort this soon will returning it back to John Lewis!

  7. John said:
    Hi, I’m having trouble adjusting the picture format on Freesat chanel 401 (Racing Post live greyhound racing, the main reason for purchasing this box) & a fewothers, the picture is compressed making everything appear tall & thin. I find it unbearable to watch a distorted picture. Phoned Humax helpline they said try reducing the 1080 down to 720, did’nt work! The older Humax Foxsat box that I’ve now installed in the bedroom works perfectly! so much for “upgrading” Any suggestions? . If I can’t sort this soon will returning it back to John Lewis!

    If you have black bars on left/right, it may be just that the broadband for that particular programme or channel is in 4:3, which the receiver can’t override.

  8. I posted this elsewhere but I think this may be the best place to ask this

    Just purchased a HUMAX Freesat HD Model HB 1000S to add to my Technisat HDFS

    Great picture Great interface Great Box Great Value

    However I will now attempt to purchase a USB HD that will work – From my past experience this does not always go well

    So I know it needs to be formatted NTFS although I expect the box takes what it finds and formats it the way HUMAX wants it.

    However my old Technisat had a Maximum partition of somewhere around 500 GB

    Now 1 and 2 TB USB drives are readily available great for mass archive so can you tell me – and make wider information on the best drives – Approved drives ? and considerations we should make when making a purchasing decision.

    Oh and I already established an external powered device is the one to go for – But others may buy usb powered disc drives – You could save customers buyers remorse if you at least published if this was the case with your box.

    THANKS for your attention

    David

  9. Any news on the playback functionallty of recorded programs from a networked HDR1000?

    Would be very interested in getting a multiroom setup with a master HDR1000 and a couple of hb1000’s when this comes available.Curious to the performance/restrictions of such a set up, i.e. Could two networked hb1000 watch two separate recordings simultaniously, or whilst the hdr1000 is recording? Could recordings be set up via the hb1000?

    Thanks

    KM

  10. I am very impressed with the HB-1000s so far only have for me two major software functions flaws which should be by todays standard with all equipment of this type.

    The first is the inability to delete and control recordings (not about talking trying to make copies) apparently you have to wait for the hard drive to become full before you can decide what to keep or delete. There is mention of an action menu for recordings but so far I have been unable to find access to it.

    The second is the ability to hide any channels not just parent controlled adult channels. In the favourites it seems unable to sort in a user defined list.

    At present these are my only faults with what otherwise is a really good receiver.

    If any one has found a way around these issues I would appreciate the help.

    Many thanks

    Angus

  11. Angus are you talking about manipulating recording on a computer when you say you cannot delete them before the HD is full as obviously they can be deleted on the Freetime box easily.
    I bought a Humax HB-1000s last Sept and the exit button on the remote has stopped working. Anyone else with this problem.?
    I also had to do a factory reset to get YouTube working again.

  12. Because the BBC, irritatingly, removed access to catch up radio from my television I purchased a Humax HB-1000s, which was advertised as having access to the BBCs I player. However, on installation, I discovered that the ‘I player’ now only does television and that catch up radio is only available via a separate, BBC ‘I Player radio’,which is not available via the freesat platform. For some reason the BBC has decided that the ‘I Player radio should only be available via the ‘mobile’ network.
    It would be appreciated if it were available on freesat.

  13. Please can anybody tell me why when i play demand 5 when it gets to the adverts it keeps playing them over and over again and will not go back to the programme that i am watching.Many thanks

  14. I am being posted to Germany. Will I be able to continue to use my HB-1000S and its full wifi dongle facilities. Your advice much appreciatd. Thanks.

  15. When I plug in my USB Flash Drives into my HB-1000S and select it as the source on the TV, all the video files play correctly and some of the JPEG photos. However, many of the JPEG photos will not display and a message stating that the format is not supported is shown. Does anyone know why this is and how to overcome the problem?

  16. A great freesat receiver BUT for the problem that it reboots on its own every hour or so. Humax unable to resolve saying a software update will probably cure the problem but they are still writing this. I have been waiting 4 weeks so far. Really disappointing.

  17. John said:
    Hi, I’m having trouble adjusting the picture format on Freesat chanel 401 (Racing Post live greyhound racing, the main reason for purchasing this box) & a fewothers, the picture is compressed making everything appear tall & thin. I find it unbearable to watch a distorted picture. Phoned Humax helpline they said try reducing the 1080 down to 720, did’nt work! The older Humax Foxsat box that I’ve now installed in the bedroom works perfectly! so much for “upgrading” Any suggestions? . If I can’t sort this soon will returning it back to John Lewis!

    Maybe the channel is giving your TV the wrong information. Try changing the aspect ratio to 16:9 on your telly manually.

Comments are closed.