There's something charmingly old-fashioned about the Humax PVR-9150T. With its chunky, twin Scart exhausts, radiator-grille fascia and low-resolution user interface, it's more classic car than hi-tech speedster.
The only thing is -- it's not deliberately retro. The PVR-9150T has been knocking around for a while and it's still Humax's entry-level Freeview PVR. Aimed at folk who want a digital recorder but aren't interested in high-definition programmes, subscription TV services or fancy networking features, it's available now for around £120.
The unit is extremely compact, measuring just 360 by 50 by 245mm. If you like a neat and ordered stack of gear in your living room, it probably won't suit you, but the unusual, rippled plastic frontage has a certain designer impudence.
The left-hand side of the fascia flips down to reveal key controls, including playback, record and navigation buttons, and a radio/TV mode toggle. The right-hand side hides a CI module slot for those lucky souls with appropriate smartcards.
The remote control is absolutely huge. At least its Brobdingnagian size means it won't ever get lost down the back of the sofa.
Connectivity and installation
Connectivity is basic. There are two Scart ports (one for the TV and the other a loopthrough for a secondary device), an RS-232 port for firmware updates, and the RF aerial input/output. There's a power rocker switch as well. Given that the deck's standby consumption is 0.9W, we're not sure why anyone would bother turning it off.
The installation process is quite straightforward but rather slow. The PVR searches out available stations before allowing you to delete those that hold no interest -- and you'll probably find there's quite a few of those on Freeview.
The PVR's user interface has all the graphical charm of an NES platformer, which we quite like, in a retro way. The machine is pretty user-friendly so even confirmed technophobes will feel quite at home with its operating logic, after learning its foibles.
In keeping with its old-school aesthetic, the PVR's top trick is a picture-in-picture function, whereby the secondary screen is either inset or presented side by side with the first.