Review: Humax 2tune puts Netflix in your guide

A connected DVR that blends TV and IPTV

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When TiVo dies in Australia, I looked to other PVRs and found Humax as the best option. A few years on and their product lineup continues to grow, most recently with the new Humax 2tune. While less tuners than it’s 4tune big brother, its smaller, faster and in many ways better.

After spending some time with the 2tune, its an interesting new entrant into a competitive and rapidly changing PVR market. It is worth noting that we see the return of IceTV in this release, not by default, but rather as an option. Those familiar with Humax devices in the past will remember the company used to rely on the service, but now has IceTV is just an option for fans, however Humax already has superior functionality built-in. If you’re an IceTV fan, its great that its available, but I can’t recommend anyone pay for EPG and remote scheduling when its available for free.

Front

Design

The 2tune has a very different design asthetic from anything we’ve seen from Humax before. First off, the physical dimensions are much smaller in terms of width and length than earlier models, but it certainly doesn’t demand any less attention.

This time around the Humax have opted for a black/silver design that looks fantastic, at home in any home entertainment unit. The top is adorned with a faux stitched leather look, but is actually constructed out of hard textured plastic.

The top of the device features physical buttons, should you ever loose your remote. These are finished in a nice chrome that bounces off the silver colouring that wraps the top edge of the device.

After that its all down to functionality. The front has a clean and simple face, just an IR port for receiving commands, but of course a modern device means you can use a modern way of controlling it.

With the included WiFi dongle connected in the back you can connect and control the 2tune from your phone or tablet. It is a very strange choice to enable the device for WiFi connectivity through an external dongle that plugs into the back, rather than just build it into the box. For those who prefer / have a wired option, of course there’s an Ethernet port to support that connection type.

As someone who previously owned Humax devices, I already had the Remote, LiveTV and Media Player apps installed and connected them to the new hardware was quick and easy.

Of course being a DVR you can schedule your favourite shows to record to the internal 500GB hard drive. One of Humax’s best assets is their advanced recording options that allow you to pad recordings, chose to keep a set amount of episodes and also avoid repeats.

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Remote control

When it comes to interacting with the Humax 2tune, many still will rely on the traditional remote and like the device itself, the 2tune remote has had a redesign compared to the 4tune.

With the elevation of Netflix to the status and accessibility of a standard TV channel, its not a surprise to also find a dedicated Netflix button on the remote. While channel up/down will get you there, the ability for one-touch access will delight Netflix lovers.

The new control fits well in the hand, the button placements are all very logical and the critical checkmark of being able to access common functions without issue is nicely met. The control however does feel light, which unfortunately makes it feel cheaper than the larger 4tune control.

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Apps

In years gone by, the only way to rewatch your favourite shows was to ensure you do the hard work of recording everything. This meant many of us hit the limit of 2 tuners and needed the 4tune.

Now in 2016 the DVR equation has changed considerably with every station essentially offering their own catchup, on-demand IPTV streaming services to rewatch your favourite shows.

This means the 2tune is a very viable option as its able to record 4 programmes from two different networks and stream one live channel to mobile devices while watching back a recording.

Multiple Live TV Screen

When your 2tune is connected to your home network, you can stream one live channel to your mobile devices in the same network through HUMAX Live TV app.

You can watch live TV through the app with up to 720p picture quality.

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Problems

There is one area the 2tune doesn’t address and that’s 4K upscaling, important for those who’ve recently invested in TVs. Regardless of the brand, most TVs being sold today are smart, which means they offer many of the same apps the 2tune does, Netflix, iView, SBS OnDemand, Plus7 and more etc.

4K and UHDTVs also feature hardware upscalers, which allow larger screens to still make a decent display of lower quality SD and HD content. If Humax wants new users to opt for their PVR instead of sticking with the built in options of new displays, they’ll have to work hard to stay relevant. This is of course a problem facing all HDMI sources, not just Humax.

The other issue I have is the arbitrary decision to elevate Netflix to the guide. If they architecture has been created to allow apps to be added, then users should be given the choice as to which apps live and breathe there.

Rear

Price & Availability

The Humax 2tune DVR is available now from Harvey Norman, Good Guys and other select retailers. The 2tune costs A$449 compared to the larger 4tune for A$587.

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Overall

At the end of the day, the software on Humax is still the best I’ve used. With new hardware in the 2tune, its faster and continues to get updated, which gives confidence to Humax owners that the product they buy today will only continue to get better over time.

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