You might be thinking, 'hold on, the Humax 9200 isn't a new PVR', and you would be right -- it isn't. Humax, however, has discontinued the 9200T and replaced it with two new models known as the 9200TB and 9200TS. The change in model number doesn't just refer to the colour of the machine, though -- Humax has also made some other changes, which allow the new 9200 models to be labelled as Freeview Playback PVRs.
The good news is that Humax hasn't changed the winning formula that made the 9200T so popular, but it has made some nice changes to improve the machine. Owners of the existing 9200T will be pleased to hear that they can access all the new features by downloading a software update.
We think the decision to add a black version of the 9200 was a positive one, and of course people now get to choose the colour they want.
We are pleased to see the inclusion of a decent display on the front of the Humax, as well as some basic function buttons. We like the fact that you can control the player from the front panel -- it makes those moments where you can't find your remote control a little easier.
At the front you'll also see a flap that conceals the slot for the Top Up TV subscription card, and there's a USB 2.0 connection, which enables you to copy files on to and off the PVR.
The remote control that comes with the Humax is the traditional slab of ugly grey plastic -- it's chunky and far too long for its own good. It has one of those pointless slide-down covers that conceals a few buttons, too. The only time a cover is necessary is to hide a button that's capable of launching a nuclear arsenal that will bring about the apocalypse. The Humax is missing the nuclear strike functionality, so the worst you could do is accidentally engage the Picture in Picture function.
Round the back is a pair of Scart sockets, one of which is RGB-enabled to squeeze the best picture out of Freeview. There's also optical digital to connect your surround-sound system.
Because the Humax is a Freeview Playback PVR, it has certain guaranteed functionality such as dual tuners and 'accurate recording', which means if there is a last-minute schedule change the recorder will compensate, and you won't miss the crucial last ten minutes of your favourite TV show.
One of the things we like most about the Humax is its cunning ability to record two channels and still allow you to watch a third, as long as it's on the same multiplex as one of the two channels you are recording. This sounds complex, but it isn't too tricky.
With digital TV, channels are grouped together. They are then combined (or 'multiplexed') and sent out on one frequency. The Humax will allow you to watch a third channel as long as it's in the same frequency group as one of the other two you're recording. If you record two channels on the same multiplex, you can browse the full selection of other channels -- clever stuff, if a little confusing for most of us.
One of the great things about the Humax 9200 is that it comes with a bit of software that enables you to attach the PVR to your computer. This is a pretty niche feature, but means you can backup programmes from the hard drive and even burn them to DVD to watch later. Not something that everyone will use, but handy if you're a hardcore geek.
Humax is committed to providing support for the 9200T, which means it does regular software updates to keep its PVRs up-to-date. This means that if you buy one today, you may find it gets exciting new features further down the track.
It's difficult to fault the picture quality on the Humax. Any problems seem to stem from the use of Scart sockets, although we'd prefer a high-quality Scart socket to a low-quality HDMI one. It's certainly worth spending a few pounds on a good Scart lead to get the best picture.
The quality of recorded sound was as good as the original, as you would expect. Outputting audio via the digital optical out is a particularly good way of increasing the sound quality for a minimal amount of money.
Setting programmes to record was nice and easy, and the one-touch recording is handy if you suddenly decide you want to record the programme you are watching right now. Annoyingly, playing recorded programmes back isn't quite so easy -- the button for this is located under the aforementioned protective slider.
There are such a lot of things we like about the 9200TB and 9200TS, not least the ease of use and handy extras, such as being able to record two channels and still watch certain other channels.
There are PVRs about with larger hard drives, but few offer as pleasant an experience as the Humax 9200 models.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield