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Humax F2-FOX, size: 5.6 MB
Humax F2-FOX T
Humax F2 Fox Digitaler Satelliten Receiver [Testbericht]
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ON TEST: Freeview Adaptor SPECIFICATION
FEATURES 20-event timer; 4:3, letterbox and 16:9 modes; auto tuning; digital text and interactive access; programme information; TV guide; picture freeze; four games; five favourite programme lists; multiple audio modes; multiple subtitle modes; parental lock; universal remote control; RF modulator; 2 x Scart (one RGB/S-video/composite video and one composite video/S-video); composite video output; RF in; RF loopthrough; stereo audio output; optical digital output; RS-232C port CONTACT www.humaxdigital.com VERDICT Super slick performer that is stacked with features
Humax F2-FOX T
Humax is better known for its digital satellite set-top boxes but the Freeview boom has caused the company to attack the digital terrestrial market with more vigour. The F2-FOX T is one of a series of Freeview models to hit the market and comes equipped with an interesting selection of features. The most unique of these is Picture Freeze, which pauses live action and is useful if you want to take a quick glimpse at on screen captions. Conveniently, up to five favourite programme lists can be saved to provide quick access to your preferred channels. Its ready for a 7-day EPG when the facility becomes available, while you can set reminders for a mammoth 20 programmes and have a bit of fun with the four games that are supplied. Socketry is extremely healthy on the rear panel. There are two Scarts with one capable of feeding images in RGB and the other primed for S-video, so recordings should be better than using lesser quality composite video. But should you wish to, you can switch the Scart to composite video or use the RCA composite video output. The unit is equipped with an RF modulator which allows you to pipe digital signals using a coaxial cable to your TVs aerial socket. Another rarity is the optical digital output which pipes PCM and Dolby Digital streams, while there is also an analogue stereo option and an RS-232C port. Onscreen information is neatly presented, although the design is slightly child-like and lacks sophistication. The EPG offers now/next scheduling and detailed programme information but unlike many, it doesnt provide live TV coverage of a selected channel in a small window. It operates like a dream, channel changing is slick and instant. The
Interactive text services load up quickly, while all functions on the remote are extremely responsive. Pictures are clean and generously layered with colour. MPEG blocking and noise are largely kept at bay. Images are a little on the soft side but this is no major grumble. This is a fine digital terrestrial offering from Humax, with the minor foibles far outweighed by the ultra smooth operation, features and performance. And remarkably, despite being better endowed than most, it comes in at only 99 Danny Phillips
ON TEST: Scart Cables FROM 100/M 77777 SPECIFICATION
PRICES 100 (1m); 110 (2m); 120 (3m); 140 (5m) CONTACT Wireworld 9200 www.wireworldaudio.co.uk VERDICT A fine - if bulky - Scart cable that offers reasonable value for money
Wireworld Chroma Scart
With a diameter of nearly 15mm, the Chroma III+ Scart is certainly the chunkiest Scart cable that we have ever come across. This is a fully-wired Scart cable, and as such it will handle RGB, composite, S-video or even component video, depending on the capabilities of your equipment. Stereo audio (in and out) is, of course, also supported. These individually-screened conductors which are made of the expected oxygen-free copper are oversized. According to WireWorld, this translates to higher definition. Theres also a double overall shield, to keep out external noise. Also worth mentioning are the Scart plugs, which benefit from a die-cast metal shell (itself an excellent shield) and 24-karat gold-plated pins. A peek inside our 3m sample reveals that internal construction and soldering are of the highest order. It will come as no shock that the Chroma III+ Scart does its job very well. Pictures from our reference DVD player were conveyed with all of their native detail intact. There was no trace of noise, other than the odd MPEG artefact introduced by the DVD.
Our only criticisms of the Chroma III+ Scart, ironically enough, stem from the massive build quality. Its pretty heavy, and could work its way loose. In addition, the plugs are considerably larger than the plastic ones of cheap Scart cables. If your equipments sockets are tightly packed together, it may be difficult to get multiple cables to cohabit. Recommended with reservations Martin Pipe
December 2003 s WHAT VIDEO AND WIDESCREEN TV 119
time to go digital
Like Humax, Echostar may not be a familiar brand in the UK, unless you are a satellite buff who receives services other than via Sky digital. With bases in Europe and America, Echostar is a huge set-top receiver manufacturer. The T-101 FTA is its first digital terrestrial box for the Freeview market and the company certainly shows its prowess with the quality and sensitivity of this tuner. Although its suggested price is about 90, we've seen it on offer for less than 60. Outwardly it looks plain, though its pale plastic case is strong. There are two Scarts, but your video options are restricted to composite/RGB for TV and composite for video (therefore no S-video). The RF output socket passes on your aerial signal but it does not add the Freeview channels, so the box is not suitable for TVs without video inputs. The basic approach also means there's no separate audio output, numeric channel
Freeview receiver 90
Picture; sound; ease of use
No digital audio, S-video or modulated RF output; no smartcard slot display or controls on the front of the box. The handset is small, dark grey and perfectly adequate without too many buttons to clutter it up. The onscreen display is a clear and attractive mix of orange, blue and grey oblongs, which don't get too much in the way of the picture. There is no 'add channels' option for additions to Freeview (nor is there a pay-TV card slot for Top-Up TV) so you have to go through the somewhat slow full auto-tune sequence to update the box.
PICTURE SOUND FEATURES EASE OF USE VALUE
A very robust, effective and easy to use digital receiver
FEATURES Auto set-up; ready for Freeview EPG; 18-event timer (8 recordings, 10 reminders); digital text & interactive compatible; subtitles; software upgradable over-air; screen saver; dimensions: 230(w) x 40(h) x 125(d)mm SOCKETS Back: 2 x Scarts (TV: composite & RGB out, VCR: composite out); RF aerial in & passthrough CONTACT 2350 www.echostaruk.co.uk
Having done that, the receiver picks up the full range of available channels and its picture is rock steady. Although it's rare to find a modern digital terrestrial receiver with a bad picture, the Echostar is easily up with the best. Its colours are fresh and well rendered and detail is crisp, especially on graphics-heavy news channels, though edges are a little too over-sharpened.
Picture glitches are absolutely minimal, and the audio for TV and digital radio stations is bold. A useful extra feature is the optional radio screen saver, so that static graphics don't burn into plasma TVs. Finally, digital text and interactive stations run very smoothly on the Echostar. Overall, despite the reduced connectivity, this unassuming looking box contains one of the best Freeview tuners available. Snap one up now! Ian Calcutt
Freeview receivers are becoming like budget DVD players, with new models coming thick and fast. Still, it does no harm to have a famous make like Panasonic supply your box. We reviewed the predecessor to this box in our December 02 issue and were impressed by its ease of use and its great pictures. This very sleek item will fit discreetly above most TVs or video products. Like many new Freeview boxes, a pay-TV element was not envisaged, so there is no card slot to accept the Top-Up TV service thats crept on air with little warning. Although its socketry looks basic, the receivers two Scarts are very adaptable. The TV socket outputs composite, RGB or S-video, while the VCR Scart feeds composite or S-video, so all the usual bases are covered.
Freeview receiver 100
Picture; sound; connections; speed
No digital audio output; no smartcard slot; ugly Guide screen For non-Scart TVs, the RF aerial output also carries the boxs Freeview channels. Theres a tiny jack socket to serve as a stereo line out for hi-fis or amps but theres no digital audio output. The front fascia is pretty plain, with a bright on/off LED but no channel readout or manual channel buttons. The handset looks like a stunted version of a Panasonic TV remote. Its sensible, uncluttered, heavily colour coded and even adds basic TV controls. This box will tune itself in when first powered up, which it does in lightning quick time. The main menus are clear and unfussy, if a little dull, but you can read them no matter what. The TV guide is too cluttered but when Freeviews seven-day EPG arrives, the box is ready with handy numerical shortcuts to jump to specific days.
Small, sturdy, speedy and well-connected
FEATURES Plug & play auto set-up; ready for Freeview EPG; 24-event timer (with manual option); digital text & interactive compatible; four favourite-channel user profiles; subtitles; owner ID; dimensions: 235(w) x 38(h) x 135(d)mm; weight: 0.4kg SOCKETS Back: 2 x Scarts (TV: composite/ RGB/S-video out; VCR: composite & S-video out); RF aerial in & modulated output; DC mains in; stereo audio line-out (minijack) CONTACT www.panasonic.co.uk
Channel changing is among the nimblest weve seen none of the sluggish delays
you find on older Freeview boxes and digital text and interactive channels run with ease. The reception is extremely stable, transforming even the dodgiest of analogue aerial pictures into sparkling, colourful, high-contrast images backed up by an uninhibited, punchy sound. The TU-CT30 is not especially revolutionary but it has better connectivity than many Freeview boxes and it does its job extremely well Ian Calcutt
46 May 2004 s WHAT VIDEO AND WIDESCREEN TV
0504wv06 Digifusion FRT100
q q q q q q
Freeview adaptor 7-day EPG Two Scarts Only one RGB No S-video Wont output Freeview on RF
When the BBC, Sky and Crown Castle created Freeview from the ashes of ITV Digital, many things changed for the better notably the reach and quality of digital terrestrial transmissions. However, a new electronic programme guide (EPG) was needed. More than a year later, work is still being done, with trials running in Wales and a roll-out to London and the rest of the UK expected soon. Currently, all you can get from Freeview is now and next programme information. Expanding this to seven days is paramount for digiboxes that have built-in hard-disk drive recorders, but even standalone receivers can benefit as you can browse forward listings and set reminders. Fusion, a new UK-based company started by former Pace movers and shakers, couldnt wait, so it has leased bandwidth and is beaming proprietary programme data to its digiboxes. From the outside, the Digifusion FRT100 looks like most Freeview receivers. It has two Scart outputs, one with RGB for TVs (or some DVD recorders) and another labelled VCR that outputs composite only, not S-video. There is an RF aerial output but this is for passthrough to other devices only it will not send its own Freeview channel output through it. A pair of phonos are included for separate sound output, but theres no digital audio output. At the front are on/off and channel up/down buttons but the lack of display means you need the TV on to check digital radio stations. The remote control is small and has a simple button layout but the keys are stubby and awkward. The onscreen graphics are bright and colourful with funky icons and jazzy backgrounds but these may look untidy or even illegible on a small screen. A helpful feature is the aerial alignment meter for checking reception problems. Two notable assets are Multi Guide and the calendar. It works well, but to jump further ahead in the week quickly you have to swap from the main page to the calendar. The calendar is an onscreen diary for TV schedule reminders and your own events (entered through the handset) handy for forgetful couch potatoes in theory but the text entry is extremely unresponsive.
Digital terrestrial receiver 80
Reception and picture quality are good with natural colours and sharp details
Several menu functions seem counter intuitive: sometimes you use OK to enter or exit a screen, but other functions use a colour-coded key or the cancel button. Also, the channel up/down keys are spaced far apart. Cursor keys usually perform double duty for this but not on the Digifusion. Overall, it is less user-friendly than the What Video and Widescreen TV award-winning Humax F2 Fox-T.
natural colours, sharp details and few digital side-effects to spoil images. It appears to be robust enough to pull a decent digital picture even from weaker aerial signals (within reason). Channel changing and digital text are reasonably swift but not quite as speedy or stable as the best boxes and our sample behaved more like a flaky old ONdigital box when it came to interactive channels. This reasonably well-specified receiver is not a bad first attempt for this fledgling company. However, its a crowded market and the inclusion of a proprietary EPG to steal a march on the official Freeview version is all very well but that will only be a unique selling point for a short time. Fusions real test will come when it launches its combined hard-drive recorder and Freeview box Ian Calcutt
FEATURES Interactive & digital text compatible; favourite channels; subtitles; Multi Guide proprietary EPG; TV & programme reminder calendar; sleep timer; child lock; dimensions: 194(w) x 59(h) x 194(d)mm; weight: 0.26kg SOCKETS Back: 2 x Scart (TV: composite/RGB video out, VCR: composite video); RF aerial in/out; DC mains in; RS232 serial service port CONTACT www.fusiondigitec.com
Picture; proprietary 7-day EPG
No S-video, digital audio or modulated RF outputs; not the fastest with red-button services; stubby handset keys
A fair first try but the rest of the range needs more than its own EPG to stand out from the crowd
After the operational quirks, its good to report that the Digifusions reception and picture quality are very good with
Stubby keys spoil the show
May 2004 s WHAT VIDEO AND WIDESCREEN TV 47
0504wv15 Freeview round-up
10 of the best Freeview receivers
A selection of recent Freeview receivers, updated for todays market
Nokia Mediamaster 121T Humax F2-FOX T
The established satellite box maker dips its toe in the Freeview water and what a splash it makes. The F2-Fox T has a sprightly operating system for fast tuning, channel changing and digital text functions. Its also extremely well connected, with two Scarts (offering RGB, composite and S-video combinations), modulated RF out, digital optical and phono audio line out for your
This tiny, unassuming box contains one of the best onscreen operating systems for a Freeview box, called NaviBars. You can glide from TV channels to radio, or change set-up options, all using the simple cursor keys on the attractive mobile-phone like handset. Theres no EPG or timer, socketry is minimal (no S-video) and the tuner is acceptable but not as sensitive in fringe areas as the Humax. It does have a modulated RF output, though, so its ideal for old small or old TVs.
Straightforward but superb in the execution of its duties. STANDOUT FEATURES RGB, composite out; NaviBars menu; modulated RF out
hi-fi, plus front panel controls and channel display readout (great for radio). The tuner also pulls in extra channels in troublesome fringe areas. A deserved What Video and Widescreen TV Award winner. STANDOUT FEATURES RGB, composite, S-video out; optical digital & phono audio out; modulated RF out
through either Scart, as well as RGB for optimum TV links and optical digital audio for amps. Picture quality is extremely healthy looking, too. A bargain. STANDOUT FEATURES RGB, composite, S-video out; optical digital audio out; modulated RF out
The Korean giant weighs into the Freeview market with a stylish receiver thats too elegant and curvaceous to be simply called a box. Like the Nokia 121T, however, the connections are basic and although there is a second Scart, its composite video only. The remote control is simple, its ready for Freeviews extended EPG and
the onscreen menu looks like a snazzy TV information channel in its own right. Picture quality is excellent, so providing you dont need an S-video output option, we have no qualms about recommending this one. STANDOUT FEATURES RGB, composite out; Favourite channel lists; modulated RF out
Made in Pioneers Yorkshire factory, this is a well-specified receiver that shows a lot of thought has gone into its planning. The onscreen Home Menu complements the brands DVD and plasma products and theres even a screensaver to prevent image burn from static graphics. Connectivity is very good, with the useful option of S-video output
provides just a bit less its still worth checking out.
Another big name joins the Freeview fray. There are two Scarts (one RGB and the other S-video, pleasingly), a coaxial digital audio output and the box can be side-mounted. Despite some flourishes, the onscreen menus are fairly plain but it will support the imminent Freeview EPG and adds an eight-event timer. Its also easy to create and edit
favourite channel lists. Reception is robust (it even claims immunity to electrical interference pulses) but channel changing is a little slow. Overall, though, a very reasonable receiver. STANDOUT FEATURES RGB, composite, S-video out; coaxial digital audio out; electrical pulse killer
After years on the IDTV scene, Sony pools its terrestrial digital knowledge in this fantastic Freeview box. Like the Philips, it can be sided mounted, and its Scarts include RGB or S-video choices, while its separate audio output is through a MiniDisc-style combined optical/analogue minijack. The onscreen menus are stylish and the TV guide choices are numerous. Ease of use and picture quality are top-notch. Although it costs more than the Humax or Pioneer and
STANDOUT FEATURES RGB, composite, S-video out; optical digital audio out; 10-event timer
48 May 2004 s WHAT VIDEO AND WIDESCREEN TV
Freeview boxes conclusion
There is already a wide variety of Freeview receivers to choose from. Mini-boxes like the Nokia are ideal if you're pushed for space, as is a combined product, such as Thomson's Freeview/DVD player. A vital consideration is video output formats. All boxes here will output RGB video for clear pictures on most modern TVs. Some have second Scarts for video/disc recorders, but few offer more than basic composite quality. Because DVD recorders with RGB inputs are rare (mainly Philips, Panasonic and Sony models), choosing a box with an S-video option is wise. In this round-up the Humax, Pioneer, Panasonic, Thomson, Philips, Sony and Netgem each provide S-video. TVs without AV/Scart inputs need a box that outputs via RF (not simply passing on the analogue aerial signal). This is provided by the Humax, Thomson, Nokia, Samsung, Pioneer, Hauppauge and Panasonic. Digital audio output is less essential because Freeview doesn't support Dolby Digital (and is unlikely to for a while) but it's another connection choice for feeding TV/radio sound to a hi-fi. Optical ports are found on the Humax, Pioneer, Sony and Netgem, while the Thomson and Philips use electrical coaxial. Separate analogue audio output (other than via Scart) is supported by the Humax, Thomson, Goodmans and Panasonic, while the Sony uses a shared optical minijack. From all this, are there any true winners? Given that AV quality is universally good to excellent, it depends on extras. Some tuners are better at receiving channels in fringe areas notably the Humax, Echostar, Philips, Digifusion and Panasonic. Interesting frills include Fusion's proprietary programme guide that's beaten Freeview's own to the airwaves, Hauppauge's USB-PC link and Netgem's host of multimedia/web features. This box is also the only new Freeview receiver (not counting IDTVs) to carry a CI card slot compatible with pay services such as the new Top-Up TV. Our favourite all-rounder is still the Humax but strong competition comes from the Panasonic, Thomson, Pioneer and Philips for their above average connectivity.
Although you can find exotic combis in Goodmans range (including one with DAB radio), the brand is not ignoring the entry level, as this keenly-priced receiver shows. Its socket options give good value youll find two Scarts (one RGB, but no S-video) and a dedicated stereo line out for feeding to your hi-fi.
Nor has Goodmans excluded handy extras like TV guide compatibility, event timer and an onscreen signal strength meter. As with most boxes, the reception is bright, crisp and enjoyable. STANDOUT FEATURES RGB, composite out; stereo audio out; signal strength meter
The second generation of the iPlayer adds improved firmware and an infrared wireless keyboard to accompany the handset. This novel product is more than just a TV receiver it has a built-in modem for email and web access, a card slot (which should work with Top-Up TV), plus a USB port for broadband, multimedia and printer uses.
AV sockets include RGB, component and S-video via Scart and it has the full range of digital TV features. The Netgem iPlayer is a fascinating if occasionally glitchy receiver. STANDOUT FEATURES RGB, component, composite, S-video out; optical digital audio out; modem; USB port; broadband compatible
Digital audio output
total no. of Scarts
One of the rare breed of Freeview receivers that sports a USB port, which lets you record digital TV onto a PCs hard drive. Its rather ugly, but dont let that put you off. Other features include MHEG5 interactivity, digital teletext and a now-and-next EPG. The single Scart handles RGB and the RF output can send pictures in UHF form to a TV or VCR. Theres no dedicated audio
out, though. The user interface provides speedy access to channels and interactive services. Theres no timer for use with a VCR but you can add one via a software upgrade. STANDOUT FEATURES RGB, composite, S-video out; modulated RF output; USB interface for PCs; MHEG 5 interactivity; digital teletext
Digifusion FRT100 Panasonic TU-CT30 Echostar T101-FTA Humax F2-Fox T Nokia Mediamaster 121T Goodmans GDB3 Samsung SIR-U200i Pioneer DBR-TF100 Netgem iPlayer Philips DTR-1500 Sony VTX-D800 Hauppauge DEC2000-T
# # # # # #
# # # # # # #
100 now/next 90 now/next
100 now/next 100 now/next 80 now/next
# # #
100 now/next 100 now/next 130 now/next 110 now/next 130 now/next 130 now/next
May 2004 s WHAT VIDEO AND WIDESCREEN TV 49
Overall Rating 5 4
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