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Humax HDCI-2000 review: Humax HDCI-2000

The Good Impressive picture quality, leading-edge philosophy.

The Bad Proprietary firmware update software is Windows PC only.

The Bottom Line It's been a while since we've had so much fun getting a product to work. The HDCI-2000 is a great bit of kit that will pique your interest in how satellites and HDTV work. There's not much to watch at the moment, but we'll bet on that changing soon

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7.5 Overall

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High-definition television (HDTV) technology is in its infancy, so buying a satellite tuner like the HDCI-2000 to receive experimental free-to-air HD television signals (such as BBC HD) might initially seem like one step too far into the realms of frivolousness.

Hold your sensible horses though, what if the early adopters of other technologies had thought that way? What if, back in 1982, compact disc players had been met by dreary-eyed shoppers shaking in fear? What if the absence of any CDs to play on it (except Dire Strait's Brothers in Arms) turned them away? The mainstream acceptance of any technology relies on an adventurous few taking the initial plunge.

If you're not the sort of person who enjoys fiddling around with firmware updates via RS232, or working out why the signal from the Humax's HDMI output lacks the depth of blacks on the composite output, you probably won't enjoy this tuner. The HDCI-2000 is not for the faint-hearted. But is there enough chutzpah to this Humax receiver to excite the HD enthusiast? Or do teething problems with the technology fatally undermine the experience?

In the beauty stakes, satellite receivers have never ranked alongside the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The Humax HDCI-2000 is typically bland, but it is at least a resigned blandness. The clean lines and utilitarian fascia make no effort to impress, so the unit fits discretely below any television set.

The front panel hinges to reveal two Common Interface (CI) slots which accommodate pay-TV cards. There's talk on some forums of getting this unit to work with Sky cards, for example. No one's entirely clear on where HD satellite transmissions are heading, but it's possible that, as with Freeview, you may be able to subscribe to pay-TV services in the coming months. Alternatively, we may find that the majority of HD stations choose to broadcast for free, using the model established by previously pay-for Freeview stations, like E4.

A series of buttons on the front panel let you switch between video formats, change volume and channel, and toggle from radio to television. The HDCI-2000's clear LCD provides basic channel information.

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