Humax HD-Fox T2 Freeview HD receiver
Free-the-air HD in a living room near you
Review The HD-Fox T2 is the first zapper out of the Freeview HD blocks. Humax is aiming to carve a large slice of the early adopter market, especially amongst the legions of football fans that are expected to upgrade to HD in time for the World Cup in June. Priced at an eye-watering £180, it needs to deliver a seriously impressive performance if it’s to avoid being left on the bench.
Are you receiving? Humax's HD-Fox T2 Freeview HD
Currently, the HD-Fox T2 is the only option for upgrading a TV to Freeview HD. TVs with built-in HD tuners are starting to go on sale from the likes of Sony and Panasonic, but there are many recent converts to digital TV who are, quite rightly, unwilling to buy a whole new telly yet are keen to grab a slice of the HD action for a relatively affordable sum.
The T2 part of the HD-Fox’s name refers to its ability to receive and decode DVB-T2 HD signals – as well as DVB-T standard definition ones, of course – but it’s not as simple as that. A decent aerial is even more critical than with standard definition DVB-T.
Typically, while a signal strength of around 30 per cent might be enough to pick up standard def channels you need at least 50% for HD. Cue hoards of unhappy punters wondering why they can’t see the deepening furrows of Cappello’s brow as Peter Crouch does a Waddle against Germany after extra time. While the World Cup will be a major driver of Freeview HD, only half of the UK will be able to access it by the summer, the rest will have to wait until digital switchover is completed in their region, which will be no later than 2012.
Currently, hi-def programming is only being broadcast from the Winter Hill and Crystal Palace transmitters, covering Manchester and London respectively, although Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds, Bradford, Birmingham and the West (Mendip) are imminent. You can check availability in your area here.
HD transmissions in the UK still have quite limited regional coverage
Another major factor against the HD-Fox T2 or indeed any Freeview HD tuner-only box is that it can’t record and hence, can't deliver any timeshifting tricks. Sure, you can hook it up to a DVR or DVD recorder but copy protection disallows the recording of HD shows on external devices. The box sports a USB socket and at some stage – Humax is promising a firmware upgrade – this will allow exporting of recordings to an external drive, but only in SD.