Ad-skipping; IceTV; iView; DLNA
Limited storage management; no Samba
$449 (500GB); $549 (1TB)
Humaxâ€™s first Australian PVR has plenty of bells and whistles, plus a few tricks to help it stand out from the crowd.
In terms of connectivity, the HDR-7500T features all the usual suspects â€“ HDMI, component and composite video, along with analogue and optical digital sound. Under the bonnet youâ€™ll find a 500GB or 1TB hard drive, along with twin HD tuners.
Twin tuners let you record two channels at once while watching a third â€“ as long as that third channel is from the same network as one of the two youâ€™re recording.
You can also perform tricks such as pausing and rewinding live TV, skipping the ads and playing the start of a show while youâ€™re still recording the end.
The HDR-7500T has a slick interface and remote, but theyâ€™re not as idiot- proof as a TiVo. It mimics much of a TiVoâ€™s PVR functionality thanks to the IceTV online Electronic Program Guide. Thereâ€™s a three-month trial in the box, or if you buy the PVR via the website IceTV.com.au youâ€™ve the option of a $99 lifetime subscription.
IceTV lets you remotely schedule recordings via a browser, Mac widget or iPhone. Even better, it can check for schedule changes. Without an IceTV Season pass, the Humax only blindly records the same timeslot each week.
Keep in mind the PVR needs to be connected to the internet to talk to IceTV. It features built-in Ethernet, or you can use the bundled wi-fi USB adaptor.
To guard against shows running late, you can add pre- and post- padding to a recording or Season Pass. Thankfully, the Humax employs intelligent overlap management, only using one tuner if padding overlaps between two consecutive shows on the same channel.
Unfortunately, the Humaxâ€™s storage management isnâ€™t as intelligent. You can set it to automatically delete the oldest show when the hard drive is full, but thereâ€™s no option to mark recordings you want to keep or to only keep the last few episodes of a Season Pass (as youâ€™d find on a TiVo or Foxtel iQ2).
This all sounds impressive, but youâ€™ll find IceTV-compatibility and these other features in a range of PVRs from the likes of Topfield, Beyonwiz and Strong â€“ some of which let you record more than two shows at once. Itâ€™s access to the ABCâ€™s iView which helps the Humax stand out from the crowd. Itâ€™s a little slow to load, but the iView interface is easy to navigate and the picture quality is excellent.
The HDR-7500T is also a streaming media player, handling a variety of video formats from a USB drive. It happily plays MPEG 1/2/4 files, including popular formats such as DivX, MKV and WMV. You can also play files across your home network but, unlike some PVRs, thereâ€™s no Samba support. You can only stream from a device running a DLNA server.
Unfortunately, the DLNA â€˜standardâ€™ is a fickle beast and youâ€™ll need to experiment to see which DLNA server software offers the best results.
The HDR-7500T can also act as an FTP and DLNA server. FTP is handy
for getting files on and off the device, or you can copy them to and from a USB stick. DLNA could turn the PVR into your home media server, although TV recordings are encrypted so thereâ€™s no point copying or streaming them (although this may change with a future firmware update).
Macworld Australiaâ€™s buying advice
iView and DLNA, along with IceTV compatibility, earn Humaxâ€™s HDR-7500T automatic entry into the shortlist for Australian PVR shoppers. But if youâ€™re after a PVR which â€˜just worksâ€™, weigh up IceTV devices against the TiVo and Foxtel iQ2.