Conclusion: If there weren’t a ban on hunting with dogs, Murdoch himself would be dressed up like a toff and stalk this crafty fox. It’s cheaper and greener than the Sky HD service, with a huge hard drive, great connections and brilliant audiovisuals.
Pros: This monstrous Hi-Def recorder delivers stunning playback and pixel-perfect recording of the Freesat BBC and ITV HD channels, together with top notch upscaling of SD output. Build quality is first class – the Humax uses a fraction of the power of a Sky HD box on stand-by – and even the clear EPG is available in 1080i resolution. The 320GB hard drive will store around 80 hours of HD shows or 200 hours of normal programming, and if that’s not enough you can plug a USB k...
Cons: The big downside of the Freesat is that you’ll need to install a dish – budget around £75 for installation, although an old Sky dish should also do the trick. The line-up of HD services is currently very limited, especially compared to Sky’s ever-expanding portfolio of sports and movies, but remember – there’s no subscription to pay.
Conclusion: There are a number of compelling reasons for users to opt for Freesat and the Humax FOXSAT-HDR. If you're unable to retrieve digital terrestrial, want a number of free-to-air digital channels, have an unused satellite dish lying around, or just find yourself craving for free HD material, it could be the perfect choice. Indeed, the only major stumbling block preventing us from making an outright recommendation is the FOXSAT-HDR's £300 asking price.
Summary: It hasn't been an easy birth for Freesat HD. Billed as the non-subscription high-def alternative to the satellite offerings from Sky and Virgin Media, the service has proved something of a slow-burner due to some average tuner boxes and a dearth of HD content. What we’d like is a level of functionality to match Sky+ HD and, if the Foxsat HDR’s specs list is anything to go by, it might just be the affordable rival we’ve been hoping for.