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Humax HD Fox T2 vs Tesco Technika STBHDIS2010


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Old 27-08-2010, 02:04
lbear
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The prospect of a 50* Freeview HD box certainly prompted my buying instinct so I was tempted to have a look see at the Technika as a box for the bedroom TV. As I already have a Humax HD Fox T2, I thought you might be interested in a side by side comparison. Please note the model number, this appears to be their newer model.

(*Currently shown as 70 on their web site, I also used the 20 TDX-L24F discount code at checkout)

I will try to do some screen shots and side by side pictures over the weekend but here are the first impressions. As you would expect there are differences with both having features that the other does not.


The box is a bit smaller than the Humax in shiny black metal for the top and sides. The back plate includes two SCART outputs, HDMI, SPDIF (does not like optical), RCA for audio LR and video. The aerial socket can send power to an aerial and there is a pass through. Perhaps most interesting is the USB and (working) ethernet socket "for future use".

Front panel contols are left to right) Power/standby - a square button (more later) and "Menu". The square is similar to the Humax arrow ring ie four buttons in a square up/down for channel change, left/right for volume plus a central confirm or "OK" button. Note this is not repeated on the remote where the volume and programme +/- keys have to be used with the "ring" navigation keys reserved for navigation through menus and the EPG. The display is smaller and duller than the Humax and has a blue/green colour rather than the yellow/green on Humax boxes. While this may be more difficult to read in bright conditions, it will help at night as the box appears to display "STBY" in letters when on soft standby. A longer press and a confirmation via on screen message will turn the box off completely but you loose the interactive data and reservations.

The remote is tiny compared to the very full Humax one with the standard array of buttons you get with all Freeview controls PLUS a "favorites", a "Trove" button and a set of buttons looking like the standard DVD play, stop, pause, skip back, skip forward, fast rewind and fast forward keys indicated as being "for interactive use". It is finished in shiny plastic on the front and a matt "non slip" feeling plastic on the back with silver metallic trims at the sides. The battery cover is fully detachable (ie easy to loose) rather than the Humax's nice touch of a retainer. Again, unlike the Humax, it cannot be used as a "universal" control for other devices.

Setup is a little curious in that it first scans all available channel for carrier signals and then goes through the ones it has found to tune in. Other than that it is a simple confirm the tune at the start and an option to see the full channel list at the end. The more complex settings like screen ratio are changed through the menu later.

All control displays are shades of blue except for logos and the colour button settings. The EPG is five rows high and two hours wide. Usefully the green button can be used to skip forward 24 hours. Programmes can be reserved, indicated by the background colour going yellow.

Most of the menu options are familiar with some exceptions. The box will output up to and including 1080p. The "wide" options are a bit curious with "16:9" having to be selected if you want 4:3 displayed with black sidebars. Notable is that you can change both contrast and brightness outputs. This should prove useful for those with several input devices which can have slightly different output setting. Also notable is that the audio delay adjustment for the digital sound output can be set to delay and advance (ie plus and minus figures) OTA updates can be set to automatic, off or to notify you before installing. The auto off feature is also easily altered from the settings menu.

Favorites are set via a menu "organise" option with the choice of favorite, (parental) lock, skip (when running up and down the channels) or delete from the list. You can also rename each channel.

As well as "favorites", up to four groups of channels can be set, with the colour buttons being used to navigate them (pressing OK for the channel lists and then the colour) The groups can be named and can provide a more convenient way of, say, going to the various Channel 4 digital channels which are a bit scattered through the numbers.

The above "Organise" and "Groups" are if anything quicker and simpler to set up than on the Humax.

As well as the usual software (and hardware or is this the firmware loader?) version numbers, you can configure the ethernet connection manually or automatically. Plugging in a cable from my router populated the information but there appears to be no current use for this. There is no information apart from "for future use" in the manual and it cannot be used to play files over your computer network.

Ordinary on-screen displays when viewing are the channel identifier when you tune in. This is a blue bar at the top of the screen with only the Channel number, name, date and time. The name of the programme does not come up.

To get more information you have to press the 'i' button. Note this is a pure now/next panel at the bottom of the screen. Unlike the Humax, you cannot scroll through the full EPG nor can you reserve a programme. You have to go to the full EPG to do both. The indicators are shown as the usual subtitle, audio description, etc icons. The definitions of the stations are indicated purely "HD" and "SD". MOST annoying is that the information plate does not include the start and finishing times of the programmes. All you get is a "progress bar" which will indicate the same whether you are an hour into a 2 hour movie or 5 minutes into a 10 minute local news or lottery results programme so again you have to call up the EPG.

NOT EXPLORED SO FAR is the extra you get with this unit via the "Trove" button. This is used to call up and OTA downloaded interactive service called "Channel Zero" Channel Zero TV :: Channel Zero which includes games, tv magazine and news. To load the data, you need to put the box into standby until the red indicator light turns amber. Playing about with this before putting the box on standby, all I got was a set of a dozen or more "progress boxes" on screen while it was "searching". Around the time I exited this I managed to crash the box software so I got no display of the TV picture even though the teletext and other graphics were visible. This was quickly solved by turning off and on at the mains but I am not exactly sure what caused it and have not been able to duplicate the fault.

Picture quality appears to be, well, up to Freeview HD standards and the brightness/contrast setting ability makes immediate comparison with the Humax more complex. When I have fiddled about a bit and set up the two with an HDMI switcher, I will let you know more.

Other annoyance (so far) I need to check on is the apparent glitch which means the unit goes straight to the EPG when you turn it on from standby. Again, something I need to go into further as I play some more with it.

The couple of glitches I have come across so far apart, this would appear to be very good value for money at 50 and at that price should certainly be very seriously considered instead of a non-HD box with HDMI upscaling.

Warranty is for one year rather than the two for Humax and I shall be testing out their customer advice line tomorrow!
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Old 27-08-2010, 14:25
trxster3000
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Thanks Ibear, very informative. Hopefully we'll start to see prices coming down. Personally I'm hoping it's going to be a HD Christmas with some great deals just after!
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Old 27-08-2010, 18:51
lbear
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Have now got a set of screen shots (not terribly good and note some have moire colour patterns caused by the digital camera process) I hope the titles in conjunction with the above description is adequate.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/5338424...7624694808531/

Earlier today I phoned the Tesco helpline and I told them a thing or two (literally as they do not even have an instruction leaflet for this box, they still have only their other model)

They have passed on my comments about the EPG from wake up and the lack of times on the information plate up the line to report them as in need of a software update.

Not had any progress on the Channel Zero/Trove front except the box appears to be going through the broadcast channels looking for the carrier if you leave it to go through the entire 15 "progress boxes" you get after pressing the initial "OK". This afternoon it identified the signal so it is presumably now a matter of leaving it overnight so that the basic setup information can be downloaded OTA. Although you are warned you will loose the data if you turn the set completely off from standby (or unplug), the factory reset does not erase it - the manual has the code to do this.

A further comment on programme reservation using the EPG. The yellow button option to reserve does not appear on screen if it is being currently broadcast OR you already have a programme booked for any part of the show. No on screen warning is given so you cannot, for example, watch the first part of a show and preset the box to change to another programme just starting (as you can with the Humax) There appears to be no "padding" option (eg as a trial I booked Countdown and it switched after the opening credits)
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Old 27-08-2010, 20:40
lbear
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*Size comparison with Humax remote and close up of the special keys are now up in the above link to a Flikr set.
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Old 27-08-2010, 22:46
Winston_1
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Sounds an interesting box. What is this 20 TDX-L24F discount code?

I should not worry about the 1 year guarantee. Tesco have been forced to give the European 2 year guarantee in the past.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2009...umer-guarantee

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/bargain...#StartComments
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Old 28-08-2010, 02:50
lbear
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Sounds an interesting box. What is this 20 TDX-L24F discount code?

I should not worry about the 1 year guarantee. Tesco have been forced to give the European 2 year guarantee in the past.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2009...umer-guarantee

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/bargain...#StartComments
You used the code at final checkout before you entered your card details. If you have a Tesco Clubcard, you get 140 despite the discount so in theory the bring the final cost of the unit to 48.60!



Just re-checked and they are now coming up with a message that the coupon has expired. Guess I was one of the lucky ones to get in quick before they changed the web site to exclude the coupon but had reduced the starting price to 70.
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Old 28-08-2010, 19:30
lbear
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After leaving my box overnight in standby it picked up the "Channel Zero" data and I think this feature goes some way to explaining why one or two of the glitches appear to be happening.

First of all, this is a teletext type service with news from Reuters, weather forecasting from the Met Office, "Shopping" (which at the moment is a graphic advertising Tesco's help line and other services) plus various games. A couple are for brief free trials after which you are prompted to text for a 20p "day pass". Another option is a "horoscope" section including ads for fee paying psychics etc. The What's On TV magazine section is 'coming soon'

Banner ads on the front page of this include ones for the games company, Tesco and a utilities switching site.

MOST IMPORTANT TO NOTE
These banner ads appear in the top right of the channel information plate when you call this up while viewing. They change randomly as you look up different channels' information so I suspect the box is picking these up but is invisible other than when it does its 'updating services' pause occasionally while in the EPG or channel list. (The banner also appears on the EPG)



I suspect collecting this data and the EPG data in the background while you are watching is at the root of the disappearing HD channels glitch. This only appears to happen with BBC channels when the same programme is being broadcast. It appears to compare the two signals and, because certainly in my case the Crystal Palace mux shows at half the others on its signal meter, it presumably decides the HD mux is a distant duplicate so drops it.

The sequence seems to go - retune from BBC HD to the BBC channel it is currently being simulcast from, the box hesitates at it being a duplicate and moves the main BBC mux channels to the 800 series and starts comparison. It then decides the main Mux is the proper one, wipes the HD mux and reinstates the originals from the 800 numbering (but leaves a copy there).

Experimenting as there was a duplicate on BBC1 and BBC HD (Rugby), I went to standby and turned back on. The HD mux stations were then marked with a cross for delete on the channel list (I checked) but were already wiped if you tried to undelete them from the organise menu.

Retuning, I then deleted BBC1 SD and tried again. This time the box started with the EPG on the first station available, BBC2 and BBC HD was retained. This looks like the way ahead come the start of BBC1 HD.

Significantly the problem does not appear to happen with ITV1 HD or Channel 4 HD

Perhaps those with better understanding of DVB-T boxes' software could comment
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Old 31-08-2010, 22:31
PAULHUNTER22
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Ibear:

Paid 60 with discount voucher and collected from store. Took it back after three weeks of turmoil. Product is very unstable. Picture just disappears quite frequently. Channels get lost, including HD channels, which requires frequent re-tuning, factory resets or 'cold starts' by switching off and on again at the mains, only for the same thing to happy again later. Tesco's Technika helpline as much use as a chocolate fireguard. Similar comments to mine can be found elsewhere on forums. Clearly the product requires a serious software 'upgrade'. but Tesco have no knowledge of any such plans. They suggested I take it back and spend more money on a better brand of product. Good advice for all out there!
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Old 01-09-2010, 05:57
lbear
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Ibear:

Paid 60 with discount voucher and collected from store. Took it back after three weeks of turmoil. Product is very unstable. Picture just disappears quite frequently. Channels get lost, including HD channels, which requires frequent re-tuning, factory resets or 'cold starts' by switching off and on again at the mains, only for the same thing to happy again later. Tesco's Technika helpline as much use as a chocolate fireguard. Similar comments to mine can be found elsewhere on forums. Clearly the product requires a serious software 'upgrade'. but Tesco have no knowledge of any such plans. They suggested I take it back and spend more money on a better brand of product. Good advice for all out there!
If you look at the post immediately above your's you will see what appears to be the cause of the disappearing HD channels. Following a tip on elsewhere, I have made all the HD channels and the four BBC ones on the BBC1 mux "favorite". This considerably improves the stability of the box. I think the problem is that the BBC do not have a delay between the HD and SD versions of simulcasts. You may notice that ITV1 HD and Channel 4HD are both a few seconds behind their SD equivalents and the lost HD channel problem does not appear to affect the switching between them.

I have to concur with you about the Tesco helpline. They were, when I called on Friday, completely unaware of the existence of this model and only had the handbook for the Vestel made one (which is no longer on sale on their web site) Over the weekend I wrote a long email to their Customer Support team with a request that they pass on the "favorites" tip and some other details left out of the handbook to their customer support and to advise their buyers that they need to ask their suppliers to rewrite parts of the software.

I have a distinct suspicion that they got it rewritten so they could have a cheap platform using that Channel Zero data to display banner ads on the EPG and the information plate. It could well be that the glitches were introduced during that "upgrade".

I asked for a full response and they called me back Tuesday to say they had passed on the information to the technical support team. I await their email response to the rest of it.
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