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Humax HDR-FOX T2 Freeview HD recorder review: Plays well with others

It's been a long time coming, but finally Humax's Freeview HD recorder is here and we're getting very excited about some of its features, especially the ability to share recordings

Humax has a new Freeview HD recorder and it's pant-wettingly exciting. Like its younger brother the HD-FOX T2, the £330 HDR-FOX T2 (note the R) is from Humax's HD range, which can receive Freeview HD broadcasts to one of two tuners and record them to a 500GB hard drive. Humax cleverly pre-empted our moaning that this wasn't enough for HD -- you can store recordings on to external USB devices, should you so wish.

Even more awesome is that recordings made on the box can easily be shared with other Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) devices on your home network. Humax is keen to point out that standard-def content is easy to share with non-Humax devices, as there are no copy restrictions placed up on it. HD content, on the other hand, is more tricky.

People who already own the recorderless HD-FOX T2 are in luck though. By connecting both boxes to your home network -- via homeplug or Ethernet only, as Wi-Fi isn't yet supported -- you'll be able to access recordings made on the HDR-FOX from the HD-FOX. Essentially this means the HD-FOX becomes a cheaper media streamer for a second room.

Also getting ready to blow our socks off is Humax's Web portal, giving users access to online TV services and other content. The company tells us we'll soon see catch-up TV services such as iPlayer, following a firmware upgrade to the box later this year, which will also see the HD-FOX T2 getting basic PVR functionality that enables it to record to USB devices.

It won't, however, be capable of accessing Project Canvas services -- or YouView as it's likely to be known. Humax explained that its Canvas boxes will have dual Freeview tuners and access to the new online services, but the navigation and setup of the boxes will be entirely new, and will therefore be badged specifically and kept separate from Humax's standard Freeview range. It sounds like Project Canvas could bring significant confusion along with it, but we'll keep you informed.

With 52 per cent of the country able to get Freeview HD services, it seems like a pretty good time to consider buying one of these bad boys. While £330 sounds expensive, features such as the Web portal, sharing over a network and the ability to stream music, photos and video from computers elevate it far above just another Freeview HD recorder.

The HDR-FOX T2 will be in shops around the last week in July. The company has promised CNET UK will be among the first sites to get a review sample when they're ready.