on 27 August 2010
I took a gamble with this, as wasn't 100% confident that I could even pick up Freeview HD in my area. Plugged it in, scanned the channels and was relieved to see BBC HD, ITV1 HD and Channel 4 HD appear on my channel listing. The unit is very compact and is good quality (not cheap-looking). More importantly the picture quality is awesome. HD is, as expected, very crisp and clear but I was surprised that the SD picture quality is actually better than the inbuilt receiver in my Sony TV (which I thought was pretty good in the first place).
This unit is around the same price as standard Freeview HD receivers, but the trick up this one's sleeve is the ability to plug in a USB drive - which converts it into a PVR. It only has a single tuner and doesn't have Freeview+ features (i.e. series recording) but as a simple recorder, it's pretty good. You can record straight from the EPG and adjust the time and select repeat options. You can also manually set the timer. The playback is as good as the original broadcast. I have a spare 80gb portable USB drive plugged in and it works a treat. I can even unplug the USB drive and copy the files onto my PC.
So if you want a good quality unit to view and record HD without having to put a satellite dish on your wall or pay Sky a monthly fee then this is a great device. OK - the Humax HDR-FOX T2 is the best Freeview HD device out there (twin tuner and Freeview+) but it is over twice the price of the Technisat. As an entry level Freeview HD device I can't recommend the Technisat enough.
on 6 November 2010
The Technisat is a surprisingly small unit,accounted for in part by it's external,in-plug,power supply.
While the main unit,and it's remote control,are well made,they do not exhibit the air of quality displayed by the Humax HD-FoxT2.
Set up is straight forward with some nice touches.
During set up,the unit will test an HDMI connection,and if the video output is changed from the default 'Auto' it will test the compatability between box,and TV,of the amended output resolution.In both cases the User must verify the result.
The default connection is Scart,but,surprisingly,no Scart cable is supplied as standard.However,an HDMI cable is supplied.
As it currently stands,the Technisat has a clear advantage over the,now cheaper,Humax HD-FoxT2.
Both units have an 'original' output resolution setting so that switching between 576i,for SD transmissions,and 1080i,for HD transmissions,is performed automatically.
The Technisat does this,whereas the Humax does,but with a shortcoming.
The latter,upon switch on,defaults to 1080i so SD transmissions have a soft looking Picture Quality.
The SD(576i) PQ of the Technisat is excellent.
With it's 3 years Manufacturer's warranty,and performance qualities,the Technisat is highly recommended.
on 28 November 2010
The Technisat HDFV is a wonderful little machine. For the price of a Freeview HD receiver you get an excellent USB HD recorder with a feature lacking in top of the range Freeview HDRs (you can edit recordings). So why did I send my Technisat back for a refund? Because all recordings (not just HD) are encrypted and you can't play them on anything other than your own Technisat. If this is not an issue for you, I recommend it unreservedly.
on 11 April 2012
This is a good Freeview HD receiver with the option to record via USB to a stick or external hard drive. The EPG and some menus are a bit confusing at times but they work and there is the added option of organising your recordings using your PC onto several hard drives or hard-drive partitions. I didn't have any problems with the unit crashing, freezing or overheating until I had a power cut with the unit on. It then froze several times but using the "restore factory defaults" menu option has sorted it out and it has been fine since. Recordings use about 3gb an hour for HD or 1.5 gb for SD recordings.
I had no problem connecting my Lacie (Samsung) 1TB HDD which had two different partitions on it, one formatted with NTFS (for PC backup) the other with FAT 32, Provided the drive is powered up first. You can only record to a Fat 32 drive and the HDFV will format a drive or partition to Fat 32 if you ask it (be careful to select the right partition if you have more than one!). Note that versions of Windows (inc Vista) can only format partitions under 30GB to the older Fat 32 format so you will need the Technisat HDFV to format larger partitions or drives.
You might want several partitions e.g. to store different categories of programmes e.g. films, sport, natural history etc and you can easily switch between them in the "Recording media organiser" menu. This is preferable to having one large partition with a jumble of dozens of different types of recordings. You may need to delete or shrink a large partition first before you can create further partitions on a hard disk and you can rename partitions using your PC. There is no "series record" so you might want to create a dedicated folder or partition for a major new series. You need to be comfortable using PCs to do this sort of thing but the Windows help menus are pretty good on this - see disk management, formatting partitions etc. One important tip is that with some versions of Windows you can only create up to 4 partitions, 3 primary and one extended. However in the 4th, extended, partition you can create as many "logical" drives as you like which will be recognised by the HDFV. If partitioning a large new drive my tip is don't create the first three partitions bigger than you need to leave plenty of free space to create several logical drives of say 100gb each to format with the HDFV and then rename with your PC. NB Windows 8 and 8.1 cannot format to FAT32.
I'm getting a 16gb USB stick (£10) so I don't need to leave my external hard drive powered up when I am away to timer record (I can then copy them over on the laptop if I want to using Windows Explorer). Update: I got a standard Sandisk USB stick which the HDFV says is not quite fast enough. It seems to work OK but HD recordings may occasionally breakup and timer recordings may not be reliable so it is advisable to get a fast USB stick rather than a standard one. An external HDD is generally best so maybe I'll get one of the portable ones powered direct from the USB socket (i.e. not direct from the mains). Please post if you have successfully used one of these portable drives powered by USB. I instead got a fast 16gb usb stick from ByteStor for under £10 which the HDFV says is fast enough and so far I have had no problems with timer recordings unlike the slower standard Sandisk.
ByteStor 16GB USB High Speed "Dataferry" Flash Drive
You can use the HDFV to tidy up timer recordings by inserting bookmarks and copying the range between them to a new file or deleting the range. One criticism is that you can't use the HDFV to reorder your recordings or to copy files from one partition (or device) to another (in a playable form). However you can easily use your PC (Windows Explorer) provided there isn't already a recording starting with the same file number in the destination folder: if there is it will get confused and not play them all back correctly. Just copy over the relevant (even-numbered) .TS file(s) together with the odd-numbered file which follows. Your recordings will appear in date order in the new location. You can use the "range copy" menu to get round a conflict as this creates a new file with a different number, then delete the original recording you copied (importantly) On The HDFV, not on your PC.
[I thought I might be able to get round this by connecting the HDFV to my PC using a LAN cable. I managed to do this using the DCHP Server option (not Client as stated in the manual) but still couldn't copy files across in a playable format using the HDFV so I can't really see the point of connecting the HDFV direct to a PC - just move files around by connecting your usb storage device(s) direct to your PC if you want to, it's much quicker and easier.] Apparently the reason for the lack of a copy function is to prevent piracy but you can still only play the recordings through your HDFV and I don't see why you shouldn't be able to rearrange your recordings on your hard drive!
Don't be put off by the previous paragraphs - you can easily use this unit as just a Freeview HD receiver or simple recorder, or as described you can organise your recordings (quite easily once you know how) in different partitions etc using your PC. I guess you can also use a Mac to do this but I haven't tried it.
It also has both analogue and digital sound outputs and a menu option to sort out any lip sync issues. An HDMI cable is included.
So overall I would recommend the HDFV even though it is not perfect. As always shop around for best price as they vary dramatically. Note: there is an option to stop automatic updates which stops the automatic retuning which some people have reported as a problem.
PS Please do post a comment or review about USB sticks or hard drives which do or don't work with the HDFV as Technisat is being rather coy about this. See the Comments for Technisat's advice on suitable hard drives.
UPDATE 18 JUNE 2013: NEW BBC RED BUTTON BUG
The BBC during the Olympics used a red button on its Freeview HD channel to switch to another HD channel for additional coverage. This problem then returned on all BBC1 HD and BBC2 HD programmes.... When the red button appears the picture goes off. Technisat hasn't issued an update for this bug BUT you can get round it by pressing RECORD (or PAUSE and PLAY) assuming you have attached recording media via USB. The picture reappears as normal (initially this didn't work meaning you could neither watch nor record BBC HD channels.) This problem seems to have gone away thank goodness.
UPDATE: FREEVIEW HD Channels moved to 101-104
My HDFV struggled with the move of these channels on 17/10/12 perhaps not helped because I'd left it tuned to BBC HD on Ch 54. It took several resets (hold power button, then change channel). Only restoring factory defaults via menu finally sorted it out as normal retune was insufficient... I hope it goes smoother for you.
My advice to Technisat is to bring out an HDFV2 which focuses on the core functions of Freeview HD tuner and recorder. Make it more robust to prevent crashes and revise the menus to make them clearer. Introduce series record and enable recordings to be reordered, preferably from one partition on the same drive to another. Sort out the red button bug. The ability to record HD to different external storage devices is very useful but the implementation needs improvement.
If unavailable consider this bargain alternative now that the lip-sync issue has been sorted out:
August DVB400 HD Freeview Set Top Box - 1080p DVB-T Receiver and Multi Media Player with HDMI Out and Digital Coaxial Audio Out - USB PVR Style TV Recording
on 15 October 2011
It's an interesting take on the PVR this. Being able to use an external HD for recording is quite appealing. But there are problems. Lots of them!
The user interface is rather 'engineering solution' with little consideration put towards consumer friendly ease of use. Your gran would not like it. It can be quite frustrating.
Like after a recording has finished, it freezes on the last frame of that recording rather than just finishing and going back to normal viewing. Why? What possible use could that serve? It's a little thing, but it's irritating and gives a small insight into how 'unpolished' this product is.
But the biggest issue is it's very buggy. Lock ups are quite common. You cannot trust it as a PVR. If you absolutely positively must see a program, best either stay in and watch it or use something else to record it, just in case.
The most irritating bug for me though is that it will not recognise a HD is connected if you switch the HD on first. You need to switch the box on first. This of course means you cannot use it as an unattended PVR unless you never put it into standby and change the settings to make sure it never goes to sleep. This completely negating any power saving features it has.
Software is upgradable, but it seems to date, Technisat have shown no interest in doing so. Seems they've sold you the box and they're not interested in fixing the bugs.
So I'd say if external HD recording facility is a must-have feature for you, and you can live with the bugs and unreliability and unrefined user interface, go for it. Similarly if you have no intention of using the PVR facility, it might fit your needs. But I think an ordinary consumer looking for a PVR, would be rather baffled by this product.
Update - 26th May 2012:
As time goes by with this, it gets more and more frustrating. As a conservative estimate, I would say about 1 in every 7 unattended recordings fail for me in some way. Sometimes sitting with a dialogue box insisting it wants to do a channel rescan right now. Sometimes recording nothing but blankness. Sometimes freezing straight after the recording has finished and not finalising it. Sometimes just 'forgetting' the HD is connected.
I really don't know how I haven't ripped it out and stamped on it by now. This is a bad product. And certainly next time I'm looking for a PVR, if I see the 'TechniSat' name on it, I'll be steering clear.
on 19 December 2010
On paper this is a niece piece of kit - small, compact, great HD picture as well as SD performance whether upscaled or not via the receiver's onboard scaling options. I recommend you play with the HDMI resolution output options to get the best results for your TV.
However user interface isn't particularly intuitive as with other AV equipment where things can be set-up and adjusted with ease and without the user manual. I recommend reading the manual for this receiver, but even the manual can be pretty sketchy and you end up trying to work things out for yourself like the favourites list and how to access it which took me some time to fathom out.
Nice to be able to use this as a PVR and record onto memory sticks and a hard drive which is relatively easy and works pretty well. I've been using a 2.5" external USB powered 500gb hard drive and apart from a few random niggles it does the job. Only downside which official reviews don't seem to mention is trying to playback these recordings on anything else but the original HDFV receiver - you just can't ! They are all encrypted ! I guess it's possible to get round this, but would be nice if you could just simply playback and archive on a PC. Also BBC One HD doesn't make life easy by putting some pointless 'Copyright Management' tag on some of its transmissions. With this in place it stops you recording whatever you are watching at that point in time via the record button on the remote. It's possible to get round this by using the timer record function instead.
I'd probably have given this a full 5 or 4 star rating, but had to returned the first receiver for a replacement due to programmes freezing randomly (and causing the receiver to 'hang') on a few occasions and there being an issue with the receiver intermittently not going into stand-by properly. OK hard re-set solves that but it happened again & again. Have the same problem now with the replacement. Not experienced any picture freezing (as yet) but have had sound dropping frequently, not sure if this is the receiver or transmission.
Have contacted TechniSat about these issues. Shame because it's a nice little unit with excellent picture quality minus the bulk you get with proper PVRs and also no fan ! Will probably return due to issues.
Bought one of these as they're now typically just £30 having been discontinued by the manufacturer as they don't meet current Freeview minimum spec (wont transcode HE-AAC to dolby 5.1 & wont support iplayer etc) but as those aren't essential I can do without.
The supplied HDMI lead is cheap and in my case faulty, but a replacement was quickly provided. Setup with a working lead was easy and picture quality excellent, I have a Pioneer Plasma so set output as native for best results, tested on a LCD set too and noted due to limitations with those the better setting was to upscale everything. I was especially pleased to find the recorded picture quality identical to the live (SD or HD)
The menu display is quite old fashioned but is functional & provides all the options you could want, though that may be an issue for the technically challenged. I liked the way the EPG works and with the extra options to change format or use genres to find what you want, the search option is a nice bonus, though text input is very poor & clunky. The program list cannot be re-ordered but you can create a favorite list that can, which also obviates the re-ordering headache after any re-tune.
For recording I plugged in a Sandisk cruzer flash drive and a western digital hard drive, both worked fine even when doing simultaneous playback & record, however I also tested with a USB extension (as the rear mounted usb connection is a little inconvenient) but unsurprisingly the slowdown such cables cause meant the drives underperformed. I also tested using a usb hub to obviate the limitation of a singe usb connection, that worked fine too allowing multiple drives to be connected BUT as I had to power the hub for one drive I encountered the Technisat switch on usb bug! If the connected usb device is live at switch on, although its successfully polled it will not be recognized without disconnecting/reconnecting, this effectively means for timed recordings to work, you must either leave the Technisat permanently switched on or only connect devises that can be supplied purely from the usb port (500mA or 2.5 watts limit) ie no drives bigger than 2TB (with latest western digitals) or around 160GB for older drives. Technisat recommend nothing bigger than 1TB.
I must add here I just replaced the hard drive & its like a new machine with the new, very responsive, less disturbance in 'trick' modes so use a high spec drive if possible.
Recordings use much less space than older PVR's, typically 1 hour SD uses just 1GB (2.2GB on older unit) HD recording use between 2.5GB & 4.5GB per hour depending on content (sports use most) I`m sure the efficiency is due to recording the raw digital stream (why playback matches live) though that means picture disturbances when scanning recordings and rough edits, though at least you can edit recordings with this, many similar offer no option.
You can copy recordings between drives, you must copy in files sets by number, a file set is the .ts files, say 14.000.My Video.ts 14.001.My Video.ts and 15 (the last with no extension & always 1 digit more than the .ts numbers) but files must always in in the root of the drive and never a directory. If the drive/partition your copying to has recordings already you can renumber to avoid a clash but only to numbers lower than the highest existing. The 2000 & 2001 files must exist on the drive, but if your recordings don't appear after copying, just delete these, they will be auto-recreated based on the existing recordings. Recordings will only playback in the machine they were recorded with.
BONUS: All other PVR's I know of record the 'Press Red' icon appearing on most sports programs & others, which is very distracting plus can burn your screen, the 'press red' can be removed by pressing green whilst recording, but that wont work for timed recordings. As this records the raw digital stream it DOES NOT record the 'Press Red' at all, a great bonus.
OLYMPICS RED BUTTON BUG:
The BBC introduced a buggy 'red button' option on its HD channels for the Olympics, unfortunately channel 4 is using the same system for the Paralympics. Problem: When the red button appears (Channel 4 HD or 304 HD only) the picture goes black. The fix: Press REC, picture is restored due to BONUS above. Alternate fix: select channel 304, press red, select channel 4 HD from new menu. This bug will vanish as soon as the Paralympics finish.
This can be used as a limited media player (only supports MPEG, VOB, MP3 and JPEG file formats) though some may find setting up the file sharing on their PC problematical, but that the fault of their operating system.
When I first used this I did experience the occasional freeze, but my older (Sony) PVR would do the same, at least the reset is quick (just hold power button on box or remote). I`ve had no problems recently.
For the current price this is a bargain, its not perfect but then I`ve not found a PVR that is, just a pity Technisat will not do any further updates to improve.
on 3 March 2011
I'd never come across Technisat, but the specs looked good and I decided to give it a whirl. I can't yet get Freeview HD in my area, but with the upscaling capability the picture was significantly better than with my old Freview box. It was easy to set up and seemed to work a treat until I plugged in the WD 1TB disk that others seemed to be buying in Amazon's "recommended bundle".
After a lot of frustrated fiddling about with disk formatting I gave in and rang the Technisat helpline, to be told WD products "may not be" compatible - indeed the guy I spoke to (in Germany) said that the only disk they can guarantee to work is their own, at about £120 for 500MB. It did work with a high capacity USB stick, and quite well at that. The downside is that playback of recordings is only via the box - you can't play them on other devices or your PC. I eventually plugged in an old Seagate disk I'd rescued, and that did work.
I've also connected it to my network, and can connect to (nearly) all my media files (now on the WD 1TB drive I decided to keep for that purpose). It plays music files and displays pictures, but loads very slowly. It won't play any of my video files - some just give a blank screen though appear otherwise to be playing, on others there is a very jerky playback on sound and vision that makes things unwatchable.
And then another frustration. I've also had problems with the box hanging when just watching TV - everything freezes up and the only way to restart is to disconnect the power. Associated with this is a loss of channel info, and I've had to do a rescan to get all the Freeview channels back.
All in all I'm quite disappointed with the performance - it doesn't quite do what it says on the tin. That's why the box is on its way back to Amazon for a refund.
on 17 April 2012
This seems to be a great unit that is too good to be true for the money (around £40). I have a love-hate relationship with this little box. Setting up was fine except for the SATA 1 TB Hitachi I provided for the PVR (The HDFV did not take a liking to it even though it was brand new). Once set up I thrilled to the stunning images of HD on my 40" TV. I was likewise most impressed with the PVR, especially the quality of the recordings on my (2nd) external hard drive (It DID like an IDE 300 gig drive). The TV guide was very helpful and easy to use, the menus are great once you get used to them. Even the update of the digital channels was easily done.
So what can I complain about? Well, as mentioned in other reviews the unit DOES tend to crash, I mean frozen screen and no response from remote. The crash is usually with a mauvey still picture and no sound. It can do it after a recording, when you switch it off, when you change channels, in fact almost anytime a command is given (even automatically). It even crashed when just the clock was on. It does seem to do it more when the unit has been on for a while (e.g. more than 3 hours) leading me to think it may be an overheating processor somewhere. And.... being of the deaf persuasion I like to have subtitles on (foreign wife likes them too!). Sadly all my recordings have the same error- the subtitles are some 30 seconds before the actual words of the audio making them useless and reminiscent of 'The 2 Ronnies' when they had a Mastermind skit (answering the question before last).
I am currently in touch with the Technisat repair people in the hope that an answer to the problems will be found. I filled out a rather awkward Excel spreadsheet for them and supplied my proof of purchase so fingers crossed, though a month after doing that, I have had to send them a reminder email as a satisfactory response is yet to arrive from them. If this unit ever gets to work properly I will order more, if not I shall want a refund!
(Update)After 4 months of struggling with this product and liaising with Technisat I have returned the box for credit. The replacement box I got from Technisat had all the same faults (plus a scratched case!). The problems must be down to software or hardware. I've now got an Icecrypt T2200HD which is so much better. My sanity is restored. Top marks for customer service from Hughes Direct and Technisat. The HDFV box is just not a good item and at the time of this update (June 2012) seems to be unfixable.
on 1 March 2012
Initially bought this for a 22" bedroom tv to use as a PVR with a 16GB SD HC card, just to pause live tv if out of the room or record the odd program or film. It can be used with a SD Card (HC recommended), an external hard disk or USB stick (For an hours program uses approx 80mb in standard definition...so using a 16gb SD HC card, it gives you around 18 1/2 hours record time).I wasn't expecting much for my £40 (including delivery), but now seen it has gone up in price...I think they've realised it a lot better than it looks.
On receiving and playing around with it, I am well impressed. It's compact, the picture quality & recorded picture quality are crisp and clear. Recorded playback is smooth an live tv pause is instant. It only has the one tuner, as said, so it is limited to record on one channel at a time, but I didn't want anything advanced than for a bedroom tv but note that you can watch a recorded program whilst recording another program at the same time.
The amount of features included are absolutely great for a cheap High Defintion Freeview box, yes it is really HD like Sky HD (and you get an HDMI cable with it). The picture quality is crisp and I have upscaled my tv to 1080p through it, my tv reception is good, so that is something to consider, but you can even check signal strenght of channels on this. Set up was easy and even to the point of SD Card testing to see if it was suitable for recording, it will test, check and format it if required. You can pause live tv, this is not jerky and on resumes without any problems, and playback is smooth, just as good as an expensive hard disk recorder. You can set up recordings up to eight days in advance, it will tell of conflicts, you can record the current program on a channel at the time, even with the option to the record to the end of the program or record beyond it, using various options, one hour..etc. There is the ability to adjust the record times, to start/end a recording a minute or so before/after or the option to have this dones every time a program is recorded. After watching a recorded program, you can delete it or you can set it start back at the begining for another member of the family to see. It will tell you how much space is left on your SD card/usb stick/external hard drive. Other features include the system options to turn the box on quicker than it does by default, which is slow (and will warn you it will use more energy, an eco option...it thinks about the environment!), but once changed it turns on instantly, another option to update the system software, and another turn the front panel clock on (off by default as it is another eco option)
I didn't expect it to be all singing and dancing, when I bought it, but for me it is all singing and dancing and is the best mini non hard disk pvr,I really am impressed and glad I chose this over other cheap scart type SD pvr. I don't want it other than to playback recorded programs on tv or pause live tv, so PC functions or playing back programs elsewhere are not what I bought it for.
The menu system does take some getting used to, it's not hard, but like anything you will get use to how to find and do things eventually and discover loads of options, but it has eveything my Humax has, except two tuners, so it is best as a secondary box (for bedroom\kitchen tv...etc). If you are watching and recording at the same time, don't hit sny other button than the info button to view program details, as you may have to end your current recording with no choice, there may be away, but I haven't found it at the moment.
It gets a full five stars from me for being a cheap, one tuner Freeview HD (optional PVR), well made and well thought out by Technisat, who do have a web site and are not a 'made in China' cheap electronics company.