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Hands on ... Humax DTR-T1010 YouView

Over the past decade the way we watch TV has fundamentally changed.

First digital video recorders such as TiVo and Sky+ allowed you to pause, rewind and record live TV. More recently, on-demand services like BBC iPlayer allow you to watch programmes you haven't even recorded, streaming them in HD quality.

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With all this innovation has come fragmentation. All modern TVs support live digital broadcasts but only some support on-demand services, while others offer built-in recording features. It's rare, though, to find a TV with all three.

To address this, a consortium of broadcasters and telecoms operators including the BBC and BT set up YouView, a service that aims to bring together all digital viewing options on to a single, unified platform.

The Humax DTR-T1010 is one of the first YouView-standard devices. It has enough hard disk space to record 300 hours of standard-definition TV, a programme guide and on-demand players for all major UK channels. Initial setup is a little tricky as the system requires internet access but the Humax doesn't have wi-fi built in. Instead, a hard-wired connection is needed, either directly to a broadband router or by using a pair of powerline mains plugs at additional cost.

Thereafter, set-up should be straightforward, but in my testing it was troublesome. An on-screen message said the box was "nearly there", but after an hour I began to have my doubts. A search of the website revealed this message was misleading and, instead, I should perform a full factory reset, a process that was complex and nerve-wracking.

Once up and running YouView is pretty good. The on-screen programme guide scrolls seamlessly through time. Past programmes can be watched via on-demand services where available, while future programmes can be set to record automatically.

The box has an energy-saving eco mode which is turned on by default. In this mode the box is slow, taking a minute to start up each time you want to watch TV. Frustratingly, the aerial pass-through feature is disabled in eco mode, meaning you can't watch live TV with the box turned off unless you invest in extra cables and aerial splitters. Switch off eco mode and performance improves, though energy usage rises considerably. More importantly, the constant disk and fan noise become too much for use in a bedroom or other quiet area.

The DTR-T1010 may be a good option for households without subscription TV, where the slicker Sky+ and TiVo systems are not an option. For bedrooms it's simply too noisy - a diskless on-demand system is a better option.

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