The Humax HDR-1010S is the first FreeTime from Freesat box that comes with WiFi, meaning you can access catch-up services without having to plug the set-top box into your router.
But what does this mean for the quality of the streaming services? Humax itself recommends a wired Ethernet connection for streaming programmes and videos from BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and YouTube. Wired connections are less susceptible to interference than wireless ones.
That said, if you’re setting up your FreeTime box in a room where running an Ethernet cable isn’t viable due to proximity to your router then a WiFi connection is perhaps the most convenient. After all, most routers are within a spitting distance of a BT master socket and most master sockets are close to your home’s front door. Until home routers take a leaf out of TalkTalk’s book and start throwing wireless sausages around the home, this will continue to be an issue…
How does this impact on the quality of the streaming services though? We took our HDR-1010S for a quick test drive to see if there was any difference. The results are negligible.
There is a slight difference when streaming video over a wired connection. At different times of day, we streamed video from BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and YouTube on the HDR-1010S over Ethernet and over WiFi. During our home test on a Sky broadband line where we get an average download speed of 5Mbps, we found that there was on average a wait of three seconds longer for a video to start streaming than if we used the wired connection.
As with our review of the original Humax FreeTime box, the HDR-1000S, we found that the ITV Player delivered faster and better results than the BBC iPlayer. ITV Player loaded programmes quickly over both wired and wireless connections while the BBC iPlayer struggled on both, faring much worse over WiFi. We found that iPlayer programmes benefitted if you paused a show immediately after it started playing, left if for five seconds and then resumed play. Otherwise the rotating Polo mint of doom would plague our Snog Marry Avoid? fun.
The new YouTube worked a charm over both connections though we saw ‘Loading…’ messages flashing up a few times when streaming over WiFi. It wasn’t as bad as on the iPlayer and seemed mainly to affect longer videos, which is perhaps to be expected.
The HDR-1010S has a 2×2 MIMO WiFi antenna, compatible with the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands so it’ll automatically switch to the least-crowded channel when people start coming home and hopping on the WiFi. Note that higher frequency signals like 5GHz are less penetrating than lower frequency ones so if you’re setting up in a room that has plenty of walls (or even a storey) between the FreeTime box and your router you might want to consider a Powerline WiFi option to improve performance.
Aside from streaming over WiFi, the overall user experience that the Humax HDR-1010S provides is very much the same as what you get with the original WiFi-less HDR-1000. In other words, excellent. You can read our review of the HDR-1000 here. Interally, the two devices are otherwise identical, save for the HDR-1010S ships with a 1TB hard drive as standard.
Stay tuned for a hands-on video with the HDR-1010S’s streaming services.
Update: Our video comparing WiFi vs Ethernet streaming on the HDR-1010S is now live.