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Humax HD-FOX T2 and DVB-T2 HD: Hands-on Freeview HD receivers

With Freeview HD on-air, we're counting down to when the hardware finally becomes available, and we think Humax is going to be one of the first to get boxes in the shops

Humax has had a pretty good year, growing 70 per cent and now commanding 40 per cent of the Freeview recorder market. It's also been the leader in freesat PVRs, one of only a handful of companies to offer HD recorders for the satellite service. Now it's time for the company to dominate the recently announced Freeview HD platform, and it's just unveiled the mean machines it's built for the job.

First to launch is the HD-FOX T2 -- no, we have no idea what its obsession is with putting FOX in the name of its products. The T2 will be ready in early 2010 to coincide with the marketing launch of Freeview HD and will be an HD receiver first and foremost -- but with some cool extra features that are sure to make it very popular.

Humax seems keen to make set-top boxes a little more user-friendly too. A much faster processor built into the HD-FOX T2 means menus are much more responsive than previous boxes from the company, and Humax has redesigned the user interface to make using the machine a real joy. Although the version of the operating system we saw wasn't final, it was beautiful. Part of the reason for this is that the user interface is rendered in HD now, a major advance over standard-def Freeview boxes, allowing for a much cleaner menu system. The Freeview HD requirement that all boxes output at 1080p50 also means you'll be able to take full advantage of the real estate offered by full HD screens.

The HD-FOX T2 also has the ability to auto-scan for new channels, which means when Freeview updates are made, the box doesn't need to be manually retuned and new channels are automatically added. That's a useful feature for people who aren't aware that channel line-ups change from time to time, and should prevent people from losing Five from their channel lists in the future.

Humax also says it's adding a PVR function to this machine later in the year. This will work by recording shows to external USB, which we think this is a fantastic feature.

Also on the cards is the Humax DVB-T2 HD Digital Recorder. This machine will add a 500GB hard drive for HD and SD recordings. It will also be network ready, which will enable it to play certain media from your home network on your TV. It's due to arrive in the second half of 2010, just in time for the World Cup.

The HD-FOX T2 is set to hit the shops at some point in January 2010, and Humax has promised us we'll see a review sample early in the new year -- we can't wait.