UPDATE: The Humax HDR-3000T, also known as the 2tune, has had Netflix not only added to the 2tune's collection of TV apps, but embedded into the TV guide and given a dedicated button on a new remote control (pictured below). Users can head to Netflix by pressing the dedicated button, by selecting Channel 366 on the 2tune, or by launching Netflix from within the TV Apps portal or home screen. A Netflix subscription is, of course, required to view Netflix programming.
We gather from Humax that the 2tune will also gain IceTV integration in the near future.
The rest of our review remains unchanged, as below and on the original magazine pages available as a PDF from the red button above right. This Humax model is the holder of our Sound+Image 2016 Award for Personal Video Recorder of the Year.
FULL REVIEW: The Humax HDR-3000T is an unusual PVR. Some aspects of it are markers of an entry-level product, but others are very advanced. Astonishingly advanced, in fact.
In entry-level terms, this is a twin-tuner 500GB PVR which doesn’t even have a front-panel display. That seems pretty basic by today’s standards.
But not all is as it seems. The compact unit departs from the usual boxy shape and features a leather-texture top which looks rather attractive. And those two tuners permit the recording of four programmes at once, from up to two broadcasters, while other features and well-developed functions make the unit stand well out from the crowd.
Setting up the unit is simple. A wizard walks you through a number of steps, including the network. Perhaps the only thing that might confuse new users is the choice offered between the regular EPG and the ‘IP EPG’. More on that below.
The network connection can be by Ethernet or by using the included USB Wi-Fi dongle (2.4GHz band only).
Broadcast station scanning was quick and certain, and you can go into Channel Settings and delete the repeated channels (e.g. ABC 21) to streamline the channel list. You can also set up multiple ‘Favourites’ lists.
The picture quality produced by the unit was first-class. Initially there were some dropouts, even though the signal (there’s a meter in the set-up menu) was strong. You can, of course, overload digital tuners, so I whacked 9dB of attenuation on the antenna input and things smoothed out nicely.
The unit supports output resolutions up to 1080p or down to 576i. Although it doesn’t have an option to simply follow the resolution of the signal, you can easily change the output resolution via the options key on the remote, should you prefer to have the deinterlacing or scaling performed by your receiver or display. But the progressive-scan conversion itself seemed quite solid, applying motion-adaptive techniques to provide a fine picture.
Ad hoc recording was easy to start and easy to change. A hit of the record key starts recording the current programme immediately, with it set to stop recording at the end of the programme (plus the padding that you’ve set). If you’ve had that channel on for a while, the contents of the buffer back to the start of the current programme will be included as part of the recording. Hit the record key again and you can change the duration.
But most recording is programmed via the EPG. And it is this unit’s EPG that offers the biggest advantage over other brands. Certainly, the unit can use the regular guide broadcast over the air. But it also has available what it calls an ‘IP EPG’. ‘IP’ stands for Internet Protocol. So what we have is an EPG that is automatically updated from the internet by the unit.
So what? Does it have more or special information? Actually, not a whole lot more, although the extras it has are rather useful. For one thing, many TV episodes, in addition to the usual description, also show the season and episode numbers. If you land in the random episode of a long-running TV series, this helps a great deal in locating the episode on IMDB so that you can check if that walk-on role really was filled by someone destined to later become a star. They also have still frames to give a visual clue as to the programme. In addition, you can go back in time. The old EPG entries aren’t erased, so you can go back to earlier shows, select them, and choose to series record them in the future from there.
But there are two more significant advantages to this EPG. First, you don’t have to worry about the EPG emptying out. With most PVRs if you have ‘series recording’ enabled, you have to make sure it does in fact switch on to that broadcaster from time to time so as to replenish the EPG data. The Humax HDR-3000T automatically fills its EPG periodically for all the stations, even if they haven’t been viewed.
There are, of course, competing IP EPGs. One is a subscription product. The Humax one is free. The other is FreeviewPlus. The Humax also has this built-in should you wish to use it. I would note that as provided on this unit, FreeviewPlus was no more sluggish than usual. Indeed, it was verging on usable.
There’s a third advantage of the IP EPG: ‘Remote Recording’. You can go to the myhumax.net website and register your PVR (it will generate a registration code, and it’s free), and then the site and your PVR will communicate. You can use the site’s EPG from within any web browser — from anywhere, you don’t need to be on your own network — to see what recordings are set up on your PVR, and to add new ones. Your PVR checks in from time to time and updates its recording schedule.
The series recording function, whether you’re programming the unit directly or via the website, is very well integrated into the unit, not a mere afterthought. If you’re watching a programme you’d like to record, or spot something in the EPG, you press ‘OK’ on the remote (twice if you’re watching live) and full programme information pops up, along with options to record the current show or, by default, ‘Record Whole Series’.
Playback was solid. Series recordings are grouped together so the Recordings screen is more orderly than is often the case. If you interrupt playback part way through, when you next return you have the opportunity of resuming or starting afresh.
Fast forward and rewind speeds of 2× through 64× are available, along with extremely fast scooting around the file by holding down the left and right arrow keys. Pressed once, the arrow keys jump by an amount which can be set separately for each: 7, 15 or 30 seconds for jumping back; 30, 60, 120 or 240 seconds for jumping forwards. You can pause playback but there was no apparent slow-mo or frame-stepping function.
The network features are remarkably mature. There are apps (and an app store) that look like they’re from one of the giant TV brands, and navigating through these is at least as snappy as with any of those. Among the apps — which include YouTube, Quickflix, SMH.TV, Twitter, Facebook and the SBS and ABC catch-up services (also available via FreeviewPlus of course) — is an Opera TV Browser. The unit supports a USB keyboard and mouse, although Opera was a bit clunky in its use of these.
Another unusual feature for a PVR — there are iOS and Android apps for various functions of this unit. The ‘TV Remote’ app is neatly organised, with simple and advanced layouts allowing you to operate all the functions of the unit. It has a keyboard as well for those times when you need to enter text.
The ‘TV Live’ app can be used to remotely program recordings on the unit, or to play them back, or indeed to watch live TV served up by the PVR. Aside from a slightly wonky aspect ratio on my iPad Mini, these all worked very nicely indeed. There was a five-second delay in the live TV shown on the iPad connected to the same network.
There is strong support for network media. The manual understates matters somewhat, suggesting that the unit will only play MP3 files. In fact it worked with FLAC, even high resolution music, although not with iTunes-style MP4 music. With high resolution FLAC, the unit was apparently able to pass through anything up to 96kHz to its HDMI output. (A 192kHz test track was converted to 96kHz, so I figure it dropped every second sample.)
The network video support was strong, with fine streaming of a range of MKV files, plus my usual collection of old MPEG2 ones. Also supported are MP4, VOB, AVI and ASF. As always, there are no guarantees in the confused morass of video and package standards or non-standards. The audio from my Android phone videos would play, but not the picture. Some of my camera videos wouldn’t work at all.
Recordings made by the unit could be downloaded via FTP, or indeed directly copied from the unit’s hard disk over the network using Windows Explorer or Finder on a computer on the same network. Transfers proceeded at around 10 megabytes per second. You can also copy media to a special ‘Download’ folder on the unit by FTP or simply by dragging and dropping to that folder from a PC/MAC on the same network.
So while the Humax HDR-3000T PVR looks on the surface like a kind of entry-level PVR, there are plenty of extras here which make it well-priced given the feature set unique to the brand. Its brilliant EPG alone suggests that if you’re a keen watcher of TV series, this must surely be a PVR for your shortlist.
+ Superb IP-based EPG with remote recording
+ Solid picture and playback performance
+ Good network support
- Tuners may be a touch sensitive to being overloaded by strong signal
Tested with firmware: AUTFAD 1.00.25
Warranty: 24 months
Outputs: 1 x HDMI, 1 x composite video, 1 x stereo analogue audio, 1 x optical digital audio, 1 x aerial loop out
Inputs: 1 x aerial for Digital TV reception
Other: 1 x RJ45 Ethernet, 2 x USB (host type), USB WiFi dongle included
Hard disk: 500GB
Dimensions: 280 x 48 x 200mm
Weight: 1.03 kilograms