Humax PVR-9200TB review

Expensive, but comes with plenty of bells and whistles

TechRadar Verdict

Fast and feature-packed, this box offers great pictures and versatile socketry. It's smaller capacity makes it pricey, though


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    Boundary-pushing feature list


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    Only 80 hours recording capacity

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Having just announced that it's to produce the first Freeview Playback-branded LCD TVs, it's no surprise that Humax also makes excellent standalone boxes, of which the 9200TB is a fine example.

A well specified box, it's also the first of its kind to integrate the latest Freeview Playback features right from the off, such as series link that enables you to record every episode of a programme at the touch of a button, plus many others.

Relying extensively on the real-time TV scheduling information supplied by broadcasters, it offers features such as split recording. As well as extending a recording if a football match goes into extra time, for example, the box can recognise and make allowances for interuptions such as newsflashes.

The usefulness of this feature could obviously be extended 10-fold if the same principle was applied to adverts, but this isn't on the horizon for now. At least the 9200TB can perform some basic editing of recordings to get rid of adverts before permanantly archiving your recordings to DVD.

What is a genuinely useful new feature, though, is something called alternate instance recording. Like most Freeview Playback boxes, the 9200TB has two digital TV tuners that enable either channel to be recorded while you watch another, or two programmes to be recorded at once.

If the latter produces a clash in your recording schedules, most boxes offer you a choice of which one to cancel and which one to keep, but Humax goes one better. As well as flagging-up the clash, it provides details of when each programme is repeated, if possible.

If you've already purchased a 9200TB, don't despair: these so-called 'group 2' Freeview Playback features will soon become live on your current box via a firmware upgrade. Existing owners will also make a saving: the new and updated version of the 9200TB costs around £30 more than previously.

Not that the 9200TB isn't worth every penny because its other features and performance remain top notch. Its 160GB hard drive, offering around 80hrs of recording time, is smaller than many, but should prove enough for all but obsessive Big Brother fans.

On top of its pair of Scarts (only one is RGB) and composite video output, the unit boasts an optical audio output and even a USB port.

The former can be used to route digital sound to a home cinema amplifier (on top of its analogue stereo phono outputs) while the latter can be used to transfer data to and from a PC. There's also a CAM slot for adding pay TV services.

Twin Freeview tuners enable two channels to be recorded at once and it's even possible to record two channels and watch a recording, although watching a recording while it's being made isn't possible.

Pause live TV stretches to two hours and is easy to operate, a characteristic common to the 9200TB's electronic programme guide, which is lightning fast.

The unit's signal-boosting skills mean that Freeview pictures look acceptable on a large-screen TV, although there's little even Humax can do with some poor quality broadcasts. No such problem with sound, which is always crystal clear through the analogue digital ports.

Fast, a cinch to use and offering high-quality features, pictures and sound, the irrestible ace up Humax's sleeve is the USB slot, which facilitates archiving recordings to a PC. This bonus sums up the 9200TB's appeal, although its high price and small(ish) hard drive might detract. was the former name of Its staff were at the forefront of the digital publishing revolution, and spearheaded the move to bring consumer technology journalism to its natural home – online. Many of the current TechRadar staff started life a staff writer, covering everything from the emerging smartphone market to the evolving market of personal computers. Think of it as the building blocks of the TechRadar you love today.