Freeview boxes come in many shapes and sizes – and particularly, prices. The Humax FVP-5000T is definitely at the top of the pack when you look at the features and the things it knows how to do – but it’s also up there as one of the more expensive options.
The FVP-5000T (Get it here) conveniently combines its recording functions with the internet-based catch-up services, it lets you record up to four (!) different programmes at the same time, it has most of the important streaming apps (but not all), and the top model has a whopping 2TB hard drive for up to 1,000 hours of SD (500 HD) recordings. But the slow – and sometimes confusing – interface, puts a bit of a dent in this otherwise excellent device.
Let’s dive in…
Humax FVP-5000T - Quick Look
Who Is It For: People looking for the full Freeview experience, with recordings, catch-up and selected streaming apps
Features And Specs
- 70+ SD Freeview Channels, 15 HD, 25+ Radio Stations
- Electronic TV Guide (8 Days Forward, 7 Days Back)
- TV Guide is integrated with the catch-up and streaming apps
- 500GB / 1TB / 2TB (from 125 to 500 HD recording hours)
- Pause and Rewind live TV
- Three Tuners – Record four channels at once
- Smart Recording: Record a full series, automatically switch to HD recording, and more
- Ethernet and WiFi for internet connection
- Remote can control some TV features
- Streaming Apps: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5, YouTube, UK TV Play, Netflix
A Freeview box that offers everything you could ask for (well – almost), from a “smart” TV guide that combines recordings and streaming apps, to enormous storage capacities and even content streaming to your mobile phone. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, and don’t mind the sluggish interface, the FVP-5000T will certainly upgrade your Freeview-watching experience.
Table of Contents
Who Is The Humax FVP-5000T For?
If your telly was manufactured after 2010, it should already have a Freeview tuner built-in. So the question arises – why would you need a dedicated Freeview box?
The Humax FVP-5000T answers that question with bells and whistles. Freeview on your television will, usually, give you the most basic experience – you have an electronic TV guide, and you choose what to watch – live. Some TVs might let you record shows into a USB stick – but that’s about it.
What is Freeview?
First established in 2002, Freeview is the commercial name for the United Kingdom’s digital terrestrial television platform.
The service provides access to free-to-air TV channels and radio stations, including more than 70 standard channels and 15 HD channels – and that number keeps growing every year.
The range goes from all the BBC channels (including HD), ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, The Food Network, CBS Action, Freesports and many others.
And the best part: there’s no monthly cost – you buy the equipment once, and can enjoy the free programming forever. You do, however, need to pay the yearly TV licence fee in most cases.
In order to be able to watch Freeview channels, you need two main components: A TV Aerial (see the ones I recommend here), and A Freeview Receiver.
A good, dedicated Freeview box, like the FVP-5000T, gives you a range of features not available on a telly. You can record programmes onto the internal hard drive (and choosing what to record is super-easy, using the electronic TV guide), you can even set it to record a full series and it’ll get recorded automatically every time a new episode airs.
The FVP-5000T also connects to your broadband (via an Ethernet cable or WiFi – so you might want to consider either a Powerline Adapter or a WiFi extender), and then gives you access to the UK’s most popular streaming apps – BBC iPlayer, ITV and a few others – as well as a dedicated Netflix app.
But should you spend £199 (for the 500GB model) or even £299.00 (for the 2TB model)? That depends on your daily usage needs. If you already have a TV with Freeview for casual watching, and you mostly watch TV using a dedicated streaming device (such as the Amazon Fire TV Stick), you might not need a Freeview recorder.
But if you’re an avid Freeview watcher, this box will give you an upgraded experience. You might even stop paying Netflix and the other paid streaming services – Freeview has a lot of good content (though not all of it is in HD), and with the FVP-5000T’s smart recording features, it’s very easy to find and watch at your convenience.
Can you use it as your only streaming box? That depends. While the FVP-5000T has all the major UK streaming apps, it’s lacking in the paid-streaming department. It has a Netflix app, but as of this writing, Amazon Prime Video and NOW TV are absent. So if you plan to watch these, you’ll need an additional streaming box/stick (or a Smart TV).
Connecting The Humax FVP-5000T
The FVP-5000T is rather small for such a feature-rich device (280x48x200mm), though it’s a bit on the heavy side (1.03kg) so better not put it on any of your other devices.
The box comes with a remote control (and batteries!), an HDMI cable, Ethernet cable, RF (antenna) cable, a power adapter, a “Get Started” guide and the full manual.
On the back of the box, you’ll find the aerial socket where you plug a coaxial TV aerial cable (from your indoor or outdoor antenna), RCA (White/Yellow/Red) ports, an optical audio port (for connecting directly to speakers/soundbar), an HDMI port, an Ethernet and USB ports, and the power socket.
While it’s a shame there’s no SCART connection for older TVs, the inclusion of an RCA connection is a plus, and you can buy a converter if your TV only has SCART.
The Ethernet port can be used to connect the device to the internet. However, you can also use the built-in WiFi, which is useful when your broadband router isn’t near the TV.
The broadband connection is used to power the streaming apps – as well as update the FVP-5000T’s software, which is a nice touch – on some other devices, the only way to update the software is by downloading files to a USB stick – which means most people never update the software.
Using The Humax FVP-5000T
Once everything’s connected and you turn on the device, it immediately starts scanning for channels. It can take a few minutes, but assuming your aerial connection is decent, you’ll only have to do this once (though Freeview channels can drop on days of a particularly bad weather).
After the channel-scanning, the device helped me set up its internet connection (via WiFi in my case), and then immediately proceeded to download and install a software update, which is excellent.
The FVP-5000T’s remote control is easy to understand (unlike some obscure Chinese remotes that look like nuclear reactor controllers) and can also be used to turn your TV on and off. One thing I disliked about it – it’s narrow and long, which makes it a bit difficult to use with one hand (as you’ll have to keep sliding it up and down in your hand).
The remote has dedicated buttons for FreeviewPlay (which loads the main watching menu), Netflix, and “On Demand”, which loads the list of other streaming apps (iPlayer, ITV Hub, etc’). The Playback control buttons are on the top part of the remote, and there’s a quick-record button to record whatever it is you’re watching right now.
The FVP-5000T also has a few buttons on the device itself (Volume, Channels and Standby) which is a nice addition, as you’ll at least have SOME functionality when the remote gets lost under the cushions.
Using the FVP-5000T is pretty intuitive, which is lucky – because the Product Manual looks dated and doesn’t do a very good job of explaining everything the device can do.
The Electronic Programme Guide can be accessed with a dedicated button the remote. From there, you can easily navigate between channels and days, seeing upcoming shows for up to 8 days ahead.
Magically (almost), you can also travel back in time and see the guide for up to 7 days backwards. How is that useful, you might ask? Well, the FVP-5000T supports the Freeview Play service, which integrates the electronic guide with the installed catch-up and streaming apps.
So, when a TV show that was on yesterday, for example, is available to watch via a streaming app – it’ll have a special mark on the electronic guide. Then, with the press of a button, the device will load that show on the appropriate app.
Keep in mind, when you’re using Freeview Play, it’s basically a fancy and convenient way to use the built-in streaming apps. However, those apps are different from recording shows directly – as they’re not kept on your hard drive, but are streamed to you from the internet.
That means you won’t be able to save them forever (BBC iPlayer, for example, keeps most shows for 30 days), AND you won’t be able to fast-forward and skip commercials on apps such as the ITV Hub or All 4.
Still, the fact that you can go back and quickly load up shows that have already aired – directly via the guide – is a big time saver.
Another cool place where this integration is evident is when you’re watching a live show that’s also available via a streaming app. So for example, I’ll stumble across Doctor Who 20 minutes after it had started – and the FVP-5000T will offer to start the show from the beginning – by loading it up directly from BBC iPlayer.
Another nice touch is the “Smart” HD switching and recording. If you’re watching (or recording) an SD channel that also has an HD version, the device will offer you, on-screen, to jump to the HD version.
Recording shows and full series is quite easy, with one or two presses on the remote. And, if you’re so inclined, you can record up to 4 separate shows at the same time – all while watching a 5th (a previously recorded one).
Watching Recorded Content
Playing back programmes and movies that you’ve recorded is just as easy as recording. You go to your recorded content using the dedicated “Recordings” button, where you get a list of all the shows you have on the drive. If it’s a series, you can then choose episodes by the day they were recorded on.
While you’re playing back content, you can fast-forward and fast-backwards using the dedicated buttons – obviously, that can be used to run through adverts. Disappointedly though, I wasn’t able to find a way to skip chunks of time with one press of the button – that feature isn’t mentioned in the manual at all, and while some websites suggested using the right-arrow button next to the OK button – I wasn’t able to make it work.
Another thing I particularly liked about the interface was the Global Search function. You search for the name of a show – and the device will look for it wherever it can – so on your hard drive (shows you’ve recorded), on the Electronic Programme Guide (so you can mark the show for future recording), AND on the catch-up apps (so you can watch it right now via the internet.)
You can see it in action right here – searching for Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares brought up episodes that are available On Demand (via an app), episodes that are going to be broadcast live (so I can record them) – and even relevant YouTube clips that’ll load up the YouTube app with the clip.
Watching Netflix is just as easy – there’s a dedicated app (and a button on the remote), which you then control with the regular remote. Note, however, that the FVP-5000T only supports content up to 1080p, so you won’t be able to watch Netflix (or anything else) in 4K, at least for now.
Slow and Steady
The interface, however, is where my one main disappointment with the FVP-5000T lies – it’s slow. TOO slow for such a feature-rich (and expensive) device. You feel the lag with every press of a button – you have to wait for the guide to show up on the screen. You have to wait for programme information screens to show up. And you have to wait 2-3 loooong seconds whenever you switch a channel – which turns flipping-channels into a sluggish ordeal.
So, yes, we’re talking about seconds here – but when we’re used to such snappy speeds on our phones, tablets and computers these days – working with such a slow interface feels like going back in time.
That being said, at least for the period of time I was using the device, everything seemed to work – there were no apparent bugs or software issues, which is in part thanks to the software being updated regularly.
Bottom Line – Is The Humax FVP-5000T For Me?
The FVP-5000T is an impressive Freeview recording box that does most of what you could hope for. The advanced integration between the “live” Freeview channels and the catch-up apps, as part of the electronic guide, will be a game changer for some, combining both worlds for one smooth watching experience.
That “smooth” experience is hampered a bit by the slow interface – something I really wish Humax would fix in the future – but not enough to stop me from recommending the device.
If you want ONE set-top box that’ll fill most of your needs as a TV watcher (and particularly as a TV cord cutter), and you’re not looking for 4K at the moment, the FVP-5000T delivers, and then some. I do wish it had apps for Amazon Prime Video and NOW TV – as those will truly make it a cord cutter’s dream – but hopefully, those can be added in the future.
It’s not cheap – there are cheaper alternatives out there (see my full Freeview recommendation list here), but the value for money is still decent, considering what you get for your pounds. You can find it on Amazon, or directly from Humax.
Note: The FVP-5000T was supplied by the manufacturer for this review. As always, this did not influence my unbiased opinion of the product.