Having owned one of the early Humax PVRs, the excellent 800 for many trouble-free years, I decided it was time to upgrade when I bought a Sony Bravia LCD TV
for the following reasons:
1) Twin tuner
2) Larger recording capacity (up to 200 hours)
3) HDMI upscaling
4) Series Link
For those who are unsure what a Freeview PVR (Personal Video Recorder) is, it is essentially the free-to-air version of Sky+ i.e. it is a Freeview receiver with an internal hard disk that allows you to do everything Sky+ can do (record, pause and rewind live or scheduled TV) and in some cases better. No discs or tapes required. Obviously no Sky subscription means no Sky channels and also note THIS BOX IS NOT HD but SD (Standard Definition) only.
As Amazon were the cheapest I bought here again and super saver delivery was a decent 3 days. Out of the box, I was surprised to see it came with both a SCART and HDMI lead which is unusual, but welcome. Setting up was an absolute doddle, just a case of plugging in the power, co-ax input (from wall to box), co-ax output (to TV) and of course the HDMI to the TV. I then went to the menu to search for channels and was up and running in about 10 minutes. I was helped in the setup as the menu is very similar to my old Humax (I haven't needed to look at the CD manual) but with a few useful tweaks. A case of if it ain't broke.....
The box itself is fairly attractive in a black and understated way. The remote is also quite smart and sleek. The advanced buttons are hidden under a sliding flap at the bottom which is a good idea. Recording is very easy; just find the programme on the excellent (if slightly small) EPG and click ok. You are prompted for option of series link (which works brilliantly by the way) at that time also. Playback is just as easy, find the programme from your recorded list and hit play; as few as two button presses. If you only watch some of it, the PVR remembers where you left off, similar to most DVD players. Having a twin tuner, you can start watching programmes being recorded before they have finished which is very useful, as well as watch one channel and record another.
From power on, the fan is noisy for all of 5 seconds and the box then operates silently which I was very relieved about. Anyone suffering from a noisy fan should update the system firmware from the menu which should fix the issue. Standby power usage is 0.9w which is green enough for me. Unlike the Sky EPG (Electronic Programme Guide), the Humax shows a small picture of the selected channel (with sound) and has an excellent search facility that includes genre (e.g. movies, sport) or name search with an on-screen keyboard.
The picture (you can toggle between 576p or 720p) is very good. Despite having a 1080p TV, I find 576p is more natural. It is better than my 800 but not massively so and has that slight "digitised" feel to it on occasion but it depends a lot on the age and format of the programme you are watching. The new series of Waking the Dead for example looks amazing whereas old episodes of Frasier are slightly blurry and washed out. If anything, the inbuilt tuner on my TV delivers a slightly clearer image but the features on the 9300 mean I will use that much more for general viewing. I get the occasional pause but only in bad weather when my ariel is taking a battering from the wind.
The picture-in-picture feature is under the flap and very useful and easy to use. You can move the small picture around to different corners or even have 50:50 - handy for when there's two games on.
Overall, I am very happy with this box and glad I've upgraded. Humax have fixed the fan issue and whilst it may take a bit of getting used to (if you haven't owned one before), it is an excellent alternative to Sky+ for price, features and recording capacity.
** Note this review is pretty old now (but still getting votes so people are still reading it) so I'd like to add that as it's a bit long in the tooth now I certainly wouldn't pay more than £150 for this item **
** UPDATE Due to persistent signal problems (nothing to do with this box) I have changed to a Humax FOXSAT-HDR Freesat+
which is an excellent bit of kit also (review on page 10 or so of my profile) **