OUR FULL REVIEW IS BELOW, BUT YOU CAN READ THE ORIGINAL MAGAZINE PAGES BY CLICKING THE IMAGE TO THE RIGHT >>>
There’s no denying the rise of TV subscription services, led globally by Netflix. Their effects on our viewing habits have been far-ranging, and nowhere more than Australia. We love to binge!
But we are not convinced by some who claim that TV-on-demand heralds the death of broadcast TV, or of the need to record broadcast TV. Rather we reckon that we’re in a golden time with more TV available than ever, and let’s enjoy it all.
To that end, the ideal would be a TV system that can achieve three things — watch and record broadcast TV, access the catch-up services for the broadcast channels, and stream those subscription services like Netflix. Well, in the Humax ‘2tune’ personal video recorder (also called the HDR-3000T), all those three things come together in one neat box.
But the changing shape of TV brings another issue. Many of us have long had more than one TV — in a second room, the kids’ room, the bedroom. Back when it was all broadcast TV, we just watched free-to-air, although we often needed an antenna cable somewhere it wasn’t. But these days we want to watch Netflix as well, or perhaps access recordings that were made on the PVR in the main TV room — how do we do that?
The answer may be Humax’s latest release, the little H3 media box — that’s it in the picture above, perched on top of the larger (but still small in PVR terms) 2tune. When the two units are paired together across your home network, this brings your recordings, and Netflix, and free-to-air TV, neatly into another zone across your home network. Humax here currently sells them as a package — the 2tune for your main room, the H3 for a second ‘zone’ anywhere it can access your home network. Let’s see how well it does this.
It’s the neatest of devices, the little H3 smart media player, with its footprint a rounded-off square just 9cm each side, so not far off AppleTV dimensions, though only 18mm high, rather lower than the latest of Apple’s ilk. Connections on the rear are suitably simple — HDMI out to your TV, an optical output so you can take audio on separately to an external sound system. Networking for video is via either Ethernet or Wi-FI — traditionally we recommend the cable over Wi-Fi for video streaming, but these days a good Wi-Fi network can actually beat 10/100T Ethernet as provided on the H3. So if Wi-Fi is more convenient, give it a go.
The T3 has 2GB of internal storage, which is more about room to load additional apps than for actual content, all of which comes streaming through your network. So, what can you watch?
Free-to-air. This is a clever second-room trick when there’s no antenna available — the H3 streams live TV over your network from the 2tune. It was entirely glitch-free in our time watching, and channel selection is easy along a horizontal menu (below) controlled by the nice little remote that comes with the H3. (You can also use your phone as a remote.)
Remember also that with the 2tune in your home, you can view live TV and 2tune recordings on your iPad or Android tablet. Humax has had apps for some time that allow you to do this — the H3 brings those abilities to a full-size TV.
All the H3’s menus are bright and clear, from the Home screen which scrolls through a row of all available ‘apps’ or just those recently used, with a row of settings below. The TV-watching section is under ‘Live TV+’; the H3 takes a couple of seconds to establish the stream, then you’re off. There’s no pausing or time-shifting here — not enough memory in the H3 really, so think of it like watching the TV. Which you are, but without an antenna connection.
Netflix & YouTube. As on the 2tune, the H3’s little remote has a dedicated Netflix button taking you off to your normal Netflix account, which of course remembers where you left off watching all your shows, so you can stop Stranger Things playing in the lounge, head to bed and pick up exactly where you left off. It’s a full Netflix implementation other than not going to 4K, because the H3 outputs up to 1080p.
With YouTube can sign in or simply navigate in the usual way. For searches, of course, it would useful to be able to type in text directly. So…
Humax Cast. The Humax Cast app gives you a phone-based remote control, and you can have it work as arrow-and-enter navigation, as a touch cursor on your phone, or for text entry via a keyboard on your phone. Aha! — our YouTube text entry is solved. We rather expected, from the ‘Cast’ name, that we might be able to cast from a phone or tablet — and you can, from Android devices at least, using a ‘Wireless Display’ option.
Recordings. The 2tune is an excellent two-tuner personal video recorder (a Sound+Image Award-winner, indeed), able to make more than two recordings at once if the extras are from the same block (i.e. 7HD, 7mate, 7life etc.). To play its recordings back on the H3, you can access the 2tune in one of two ways — through DLNA (pictured above), drilling down into the folder structure to the recordings, or through the same LiveTV+ used for live TV channels (arrow down to access recordings). Playback was again perfectly smooth, and you can pause and restart easily enough. Through LiveTV+ you can jump forward and back in 10-second hops, though watching via DLNA the jumps were about five minutes in either direction (Humax says it should be two minutes, our sample jumped further) — too far when jumping ads or finding anything accurately. So perhaps stick to LiveTV+ for recordings.
Through the same DLNA portal you can access other network storage, which can be specified including passwords if required. For example we noted that the H3 was able to stream recordings from a much older Humax elsewhere in the home, as well as from the 2tune.
You can set recordings on the HDR-3000T or via the H3, but also using the MyHumax web portal whether you’re at home or away — it’s an excellent online implementation (above) with easy searching and series record options. Leave plenty of time for your bookings to reach your HDR-3000T; the default is 30 minutes.
Humax Apps. We won’t list them all — above is a screenshot of the first 18 available, which includes most of the useful ones; another 11 were on the next screen, a further 17 under the ‘Kids’ menu. Internet radio is probably the most useful in a second room context, but you never know what may appeal should you be up for ‘Do Squats’ or ‘Bible TV’, which shows the text of the bible on screen (the King James version, by the look of it).
There’s also ‘Bluetooth out’ available here, sending the H3 sound to Bluetooth headphones or a speaker. Even better, we had a Bluetooth-equipped DAC in our sizeable audio system — one quick pair and the H3’s audio was loud and clear in hi-fi quality. Timing can go out via Bluetooth, of course, and this will depend partly on your receiving equipment. In our system the audio via Bluetooth was respectably and acceptably in sync with recordings watched via DLNA, but the latency increased into out-of-sync territory when Bluetoothing audio from free-to-air via Live TV+.
Just the beginning
All the above is what the little H3 can do. The 2tune HDR-3000T in your main room can do even more — notably FreeviewPlus catch-up from all the free-to-air providers, streaming live TV and recordings to a tablet, and the aforementioned web-based setting of recordings from an online TV guide. All this in a compact unit of radical design for a PVR, from its dinky dimensions to its leather-texture top surface. For our full review of this unit alone, visit avhub.com.au/2tune
orclick the image above.
The H3 is currently available only in a bundle with the 2tune, with which it pairs for a combo of excellent main-room PVR and extremely handy second-room extension for home networked viewing of recordings, free-to-air and streaming services like Netflix. Very neat, very clever!
Humax 2tune (HDR-3000T) & H3 PVR/Media Player
Bundle price: $499 with 1TB ‘2tune’ and H3
+ Excellent PVR in one room
+ Versatile media player for another room
+ Watch recordings/live TV from either
Dimensions (2tune): 216 × 318 × 88mm
Dimensions (H3): 216 × 318 × 88mm
Warranty: One year