Review We’ve been looking forward to getting our hands on the Foxsat-HDR for quite a while now. In fact, we’d been hoping to review it early in the new year – until some uncouth louts decided to hijack an entire shipment of the devices as they came into the country, including, needless to say, one unit that had been earmarked for El Reg.
Humax's Foxsat HDR: record 80 hours of free-to-air HD TV shows
Still, we’re pleased to say that the Foxsat-HDR was worth the wait. It’s a bit pricey - it comes in at around £299 -but it’s a well-designed and versatile digital video recorder that includes the added bonus of being one of the few options for viewing and recording the free-to-air HD content that is available from the Freesat satellite TV service.
There are currently three types of Freesat receivers. The most basic ones, which Freesat refers to as "Freesat digital boxes", cost about £100 and allow you to view the full range of around 140 Freesat channels and radio stations – but only in standard definition. Then, at around £150 there are "Freesat HD" boxes, such as Humax’s own, less expensive Foxsat-HD, which can also receive high-definition broadcasts - though it’s worth remembering that Freesat’s subscription-free HD offerings are currently limited to just the BBC’s single HD channel and occasional outbursts of activity on ITV HD. However, neither of these options allows you to record Freesat programmes so that you can watch them at your own convenience.
That’s where the Foxsat-HDR comes in, as this is one of the first top-tier models that can both receive and record Freesat’s full range of SD and HD programmes. Just remember that the £299 price tag doesn’t include the cost of buying and installing a suitable satellite dish. You’ll need to budget an extra £50-100 for the dish, depending on the deals that you can find from various high-street retailers. However, it is possible to connect the Foxsat-HDR to an existing Sky satellite dish and receive the various Freesat channels through the Sky dish as both services are broadcast from the same Astra satellite up there in the great blue yonder.
When you lift it out of its box, the Foxsat-HDR looks like a slimline, matte-black DVD player. It measures 380 x 250 x 55mm deep, which makes it slightly wider, but not quite as high as our existing Sky+ box. Setting it up proved to be admirably straightforward. The Foxsat-HDR has two tuners built into it, allowing you to record two channels at the same time, or just to watch one channel while recording another. You will, however, need two input cables connecting the box to the satellite dish in order to use both tuners simultaneously.