Installation is a breeze if you leave out the networking. First, choose your language from English, Scottish Gaelic, Irish and Welsh. Next, set the display (screen ratio, format and resolution).
Do a channel scan, which is quicker than most, and you're off and running. The excellent fonts, graphics, icons and menus combine beautifully and navigation is so fast that set-up and use is a cinch. The only real downer is that the HDR-FOX T2 takes around 15 seconds to power up.
The menu system lets you alter settings such as the transparency level of the menu screens, parental controls and the video output, which is scaleable to 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 576p or 576i.
The HDR-FOX T2's remote control is superior to most other Freeview+ HD handsets.
It's really well made and is a decent size so that the majority of buttons aren't cramped. It sits nicely in the hand and it doesn't take long to familiarise yourself with although some of the more oft-used buttons such as Menu and Guide could be a bit larger or colour-coded to stand out more.
Several menu functions also have dedicated buttons on the remote. For example, the Opt+ button lets you select five channels as Favourites.
EPG and channel navigation
The 8-day EPG, as first seen on the HD-FOX T2 receiver, has the good grace to keep the live channel showing in a small window.
Seven channels are displayed in grid form with two hours worth of programmes. You can search by genre or keyword (eg title) or you can choose to filter the EPG to show just TV, radio, HD-only or recent channels.
Pressing OK lets you record the show (or an entire series) or set a reminder. Manual padding (up to 10 minutes at the start and end) can be done from the set-up menu.
The EPG tells you if a show on a standard definition channel is also showing in HD but the box can't tell you if HD content is native 1080i or upscaled from standard definition, like say the Triax box can.
The info banner, or i-plate as it's known, does at least scroll through the entire EPG rather than the usual Now and Next limit. A real rarity.
Tuner and recordings
The HDR-FOX T2's standard definition and HD tuners are both industry-leading.
Now the World Cup is over, ITV's native HD output is rather meagre but the onset of the new football season will add to the occasional movie. There's a huge gulf in quality between the low bit-rate used for a lot of standard definition broadcasts and HD ones.
At least standard def Freeview looks as good as you can get.
Recordings are pixel-perfect replicas of the original broadcasts. You can pause and rewind live broadcasts or view scheduled recordings by pressing the Media button. A nice feature is the ability to add bookmarks on the fly.
Once or twice the sound dropped out on playback but was restored by restarting the box.
Insert a USB stick and a menu conveniently appears asking you if you want to copy any or all of the music, video or photo files on to the hard disk. Media navigation in general is well executed but we did experience that annoying dropped audio problem a few times.
The box is not DLNA certified, but we got it streaming videos from a Windows 7 box with no trouble at all. It also handled perfectly a broad range of multi-media files copied over from USB including DivX HD and MP4.