In hardware terms the lozenge-shaped FVP-5000T is practically identical to what went before. But Humax’s earlier Freeview Play PVR – the 2015 FVP-4000T – was perhaps launched too early and, consequently, was far from stable… Read ourHUMAX FVP-5000T (500GB VERSION) Review.
Usability problems (our FVP-4000T review said it was ‘recommended, but with caveats’) were eventually nixed with software updates, but the experiences did nothing for the hard-won reputation of the set-top box specialist. The Korean firm may have learnt from its mistakes; I’m told that the FVP-5000T, which will replace the FVP-4000T, has been extensively tested before release.
Martin Pipe discovers the under-the-hood updates that make Humax’s FVP-5000T a Freeview flag-bearer
In exterior terms, the only obvious change from the FVP-4000T is a black carbon-fibre finish. AV connectivity is identical – aerial sockets, HDMI output, basic standard- def analogue connections, optical digital audio, Ethernet (Wi-Fi’s built-in too) and a pair of USB ports, one of which is located on the side of that distinctive enclosure. Internally, too, little has changed. You still get three tuners, but Humax has found new ways of wringing the last drop of potential from them.
There’s no support for 4K, whether native or upscaled. And as before, the FVP-5000T is available in hard drive capacities of 500GB, 1TB and 2TB. Tested here is the 500GB version.
The only obvious external difference is a redesigned handset, with larger buttons for frequently accessed functions (notably on-demand content) and the replacement of the FVP-4000T’s ’home’ button with
PRODUCT: Triple-tuner, networked Freeview Play PVR
POSITION: Replacement for the FVP-4000T
Peers: Panasonic DMR-HWT150EB; Sky Q; BT TV
a Freeview Play one. Given the hardware similarities of the boxes, it shouldn’t shock you to learn that the old handset operates the new PVR.
The FVP-5000T’s zapper is nevertheless suggestive of a radical software re-think, which is exactly what Humax has done. It starts with the revised setup function, which is wizard-driven and speedy. You’ll be up and watching within minutes.
The overall user interface represents a significant advance. Pressing the Freeview Play button gives you a dashboard arranged in rows, with the currently selected TV channel playing in the background. The first row contains links to the retro-active (catch-up-enabled) EPG, catch-up players, Top Picks (Humax recommendations), your recordings, the onboard DLNA media player and system settings. Beneath this are a sequence of Freeview- recommended programmes in thumbnail form, and a bottom row with icons depicting popular catch-up players (iPlayer, All4, etc.) and apps. Clicking on a thumbnail or icon accesses the associated service. You can also call up an On Now function that displays the current offerings of a customisable channel selection.
On top of this are the dedicated handset buttons, which short-cut to some of the above – among them Netflix, the EPG and recording lists. ’On Demand’ displays a Freeview Play-curated grid of popular programmes on catch-up. But you might choose the menu accessible Top Picks instead. Following a software update, planned for early next year, this will learn your viewing habits and apply a personalised slant to its suggestions.
One area when the FVP-5000T falls short of some of the competition is its lack of voice search. Here, you have to hunt for specific content the traditional way – hit the magnifying glass ’search’ button on the handset, and start entering the name of a programme to find it. It’ll likely throw up an extensive list, as all occurrences of your search are listed – categorised by ’on-demand’, ’broadcast’ and ’other’ viewings. The latter links to the top-fifty associated YouTube clips, perhaps making the FVP-5000T unique among set-top boxes. I wonder what broadcasters will make of it…
This PVR also dovetails neatly with the previously reviewed Humax Eye security camera, enabling you to view live pictures and recorded footage on your TV. Indeed, the necessary app is pre-installed (others available include fitness, internet radio, kids’ stories and classical music).
Like its predecessor, the FVP-5000T is also compatible with the Humax H3 Smart TV box, which will stream live TV channels from one of the PVR’s tuners. This gadget is handy when deployed in a room with network coverage (the H3 is Wi-Fi-capable) but no aerial outlet, giving you an inexpensive multiroom fix. And if you’ve configured the FVP-5000T to act as a media server, then you can stream recordings (and other stored media) to the H3. Cool.
All of the features one expects of a PVR are present and correct. Naturally you can manipulate buffered live TV with transport buttons on the handset (which will also operate basic TV functions). Also available are subtitles, favourite channels, Freeview radio, support for audio described soundtracks, digital teletext and easy scheduling of recordings via the EPG.
The latter doesn’t just support series-linking. If you schedule a recording, and a related programme is
1. The slender FVP- 5000T will slot easily into any AV furniture
2. Humax’s new handset offers a Freeview Play hot key
detected, you’re asked if that should be recorded too. And the number of programmes that can be simultaneously recording has been extended from the FVP-4000T’s three to at least five, thanks to how the new model deals with broadcast multiplexes (each tuner handles an entire multiplex, which can carry several channels).
You don’t even have to be in the same room – or, for that matter, the same country – as the FVP-5000T to select programmes for recording. Install Humax’s Live TV app on your smart device (iOS/Android), and the job can be done
This helps you navigate your way through a bewildering degree of viewing choice, and make the most of it
from any location that yields some sort of connection – provided you remembered to enable remote recording in the FVP-5000T’s menus before heading out. Live TV has another useful purpose. If you’re at home, and your smart device is connected to your home network, live broadcasts or recordings can be streamed to it.
Menus allow you to customise the box to your needs – recording padding time, network considerations, HDMI mode, lip-sync, parental controls and so on.
Criticisms of the FVP-4000T (being unresponsive, freezing occasionally and an unappealing user interface) have been addressed by this new model (and note that the FVP-4000T should itself get something of a polish in a January software update). Menus can still be a little sluggish on occasions, but response times are on the whole acceptable. The FVP-5000T is also far more reliable, not crashing or missing recordings once in over a month.
Buggy it may have been, but one couldn’t fault the FVP-4000T’s AV quality. Needless to say its successor also impresses in this regard, especially with HD channels, of which there are now 15. Pictures are crisp and detailed, with faithful colour rendering and a wide dynamic range. Noise and artefacts are kept at bay, and on no occasion did glitches or lip-sync issues spoil the fun. The box gets the best of these channels, whether you’re watching live news programmes from a brightly-lit studio, or the murkier scenes of C4’s Electric Dreams drama series. SD channels, which are upscaled, naturally don’t fare as well. There’s less detail, and artefacts are
HDD: Yes. 500GB TUNER: Yes. 3 x Freeview HD CATCH-UP SERVICES: Yes. BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All4, Demand 5, UKTV Play CONNECTIONS: Aerial in/out; composite video/stereo audio; optical digital audio output; HDMI v1.4; Ethernet; 2 x USB (1 x side-mounted) DIMENSIONS: 280(w) x 48(h) x 200(d) mm WEIGHT: 1kg
FEATURES: Wi-Fi; Freeview Play; timeshifting; app with timer-scheduling and local streaming available; DLNA server and media player; record 5+ channels simultaneously; SMB/FTP access; compatibility with H3 and Humax Eye; media playback from USB; Top Picks; Smart Search; universal remote; apps incl. Netflix and YouTube
Link this Wi-Fi/ Ethernet streaming box to the FVP-5000T and you can view the latter’s recordings/ live TV in a second room. Online functionality includes Netflix, YouTube and TV Player for broadcast content.
noticeable – even with mainstream channels. Personally, I wonder if SD broadcasting is living on borrowed time.
Streamed content, like YouTube and on-demand (HD is supported), is a mixed-bag, but that’s down to the source.
Audio doesn’t disappoint either. 5.1 soundtracks retain their clarity and dynamics, even after the box has transcoded them to Dolby Digital (I’d still like 5.1 PCM, though). As you’re merely capturing transport streams, recordings look and sound as good as the original airings.
In all, Humax’s FVP-5000T is a superb product that brings together broadcast, timeshifting, on-demand, networked, USB and online content. It not only helps you navigate your way through a bewildering degree of viewing choice, but it helps you make the most of it – thanks to a well-designed user interface and faultless performance.
An obvious choice if you’re a telly addict in the market for a Freeview PVR
A welcome upgrade over the previous FVP-4000T, this triple-tuner PVR gives Freeview aficionados plenty of flexibility and functionality.
3. There’s even a composite video output for people with ancient TVs…