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Humax HB-1000S review

Introduction

What can you get for £100? You could get 50 lottery tickets, a Nokia 301 SIM free, or the Humax HB-1000S, an HD digital satellite TV box with BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD, Demand 5 and YouTube players. 

It’s a Free Time from Freesat device, meaning you get a beautifully designed menu that makes those on-demand services really easy to access. 

Read on to see if there’s more to the Humax HB-1000S other than a really attractive price tag. 

Humax HB-10005 review

Design and specs: Humax HB-1000S dimensions

The Humax HB-1000S is one of the tiniest pieces of TV kit we’ve seen. It’s smaller than a Nintendo Wii and is roughly the size of a two disc DVD case. Design-wise there’s not much else you can say about it other than it’s a small, lightweight black box. 

Given its dinky size it’s a wonder that Humax managed to cram so many connections on the back; two USB ports (one for hard drives, one for a WiFi adapter), an Ethernet port and HDMI as well as connections for analogue stereo, composite video, optical digital audio and a single satellite input. 

There’s just one satellite tuner, so if you do plug a hard disc into the USB, you won’t have the option of recording one show while watching another. 

Humax HB-1000S review

  • Width: 20cm Height: 3.8cm Depth: 15.5cm
  • Connectivity: 2 x USB 2.0, Ethernet, HDMI, satellite input, analogue stereo audio phono out, composite video out, optical digital audio out. 

Controls: Humax HB-1000S remote control

The remote control that comes with the Humax HB-1000S is the same design that’s come with all of Humax’s Free Time from Freesat products.

The concave shape that looks like one bar of a cross pattée makes it easy to grip and for your thumb to easily find the central wheel where the main navigation keys (direction buttons, OK and Back) are located. It’s a sensible design, with shortcuts to things like Search and TV Guide and volume controls located not too far from the default position. 

Humax HB-1000S review

TV Smarts: Set up and menus

Getting started couldn’t be simpler. Provided you’ve already got a dish installed, all you need to go is carefully connect the satellite cable to the Humax HB-1000S, connect the mains supply, Ethernet and the HDMI cable and you’re good to go. 

Like other Freesat boxes, the Humax HB-1000S will scan for channels automatically, requiring you to enter your postcode so that you get the correct regional variants for news programmes during set up. You’ll be asked to set a PIN as well, which you’ll need to lock access to any channels. 

The programme guide looks exactly the same as it does on other Free Time from Freesat devices like the Humax HDR 1000S. The high contrast menus are easily legible and nicely complemented by a colour scheme that while not essential, gives the whole package a premium feel. 

Amazingly, given the low price of the HB-1000S, navigating the menus is as silky smooth as it is on more expensive models. The overall experience is one of quality and polish. 

Humax HB-1000S review

Humax HB-1000S: BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD, Demand 5 and YouTube

The Free Time from Freesat design means that if you’ve missed a programme from earlier in the day, you can scroll back in the programme guide and if the show is available from a catch-up service you’ll be able to watch it online, provided you’ve got a connection speed of at least 2Mbps. 

As well as this, all of the these catch-up services can be accessed from the On Demand menu. YouTube benefits from things like Leanback smartphone control, and gives you the ability to sign in to your YouTube account, from where you can access your favourites. 

As with previous Freesat devices, we found that BBC iPlayer would occasionally play up. Programmes took longer to load than content from other services and prolonged pauses spoilt our enjoyment of The Great British Bake Off. It seems that the iPlayer service for Freesat could do with a bit of a tune-up. 

Humax HB-1000S review

Humax HB-1000S: Verdict

For £99.95, the Humax HD-1000S is definitely a bargain. As with the Manhattan Plaza HD S2, you get a solid Freesat HD experience, but the single tuner means that you don’t have the option of recording more than one programme at once.

The added bonus of catch-up services means that if you do miss something then chances are you’ll be able to get it via iPlayer or 4oD. We love the easy set up, the compact build of the box and the smooth, sensible design of both the remote control and the menu. It all adds up to a great value digital satellite package. 

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