The Humax PVR9200T is a combined digital terrestrial set-top box and personal video recorder. And I’ve just found out how you can plug it into a Mac.
While analog TV signals are still broadcast, a large proportion of households here in the UK have already upgraded their equipment so they can receive digital TV, either via satellite, cable or terrestrial over-the-air broadcast.
This last option is by far the most popular, simply because it’s relatively cheap. Most families haven’t thought twice about spending £40 (about $80) on a basic digibox, which they can plug directly into their TV to begin watching free-to-view channels from the BBC and a long list of commercial stations.
I found out the expensive way that these cheap digiboxes may not be the best thing to buy. They’re cheap for a reason. Plus, the cheap ones have only one tuner, which makes it hard to record one digital channel while watching another. Our first (cheap) box died after a couple of months, and a similar replacement machine just made me more frustrated.
The Humax comes with superb reviews from pretty much everyone, and at nearly £200 ($400) isn’t exactly cheap. But it has two built-in tuners, a 160GB hard disk, and a clear, well-designed Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) that is a joy to use, especially in comparison to similar interfaces I’ve seen on cheaper digiboxes.
Now, I tend to keep my TV watching well away from my computer. I have no need to see the two entwined, AppleTV style, and no interest in streaming stuff from my computer to my TV set. What’s available to me for free, over the air, is plenty enough.
But a friend made my geekplugs spark when he casually mentioned that he had a Humax too, and had found some app on the web that let you connect to it to a Mac over a USB cable. Here’s what it looks like:
The app is called HumaxGUI and is a free download. It runs on Linux, Windows and OS X. The Humax stores video as .ts files which won’t open in Quicktime, but can be played in VLC. It will also store image and music files quite happily. Downloading from the Humax to a hard disk is quite slow, even for smaller files (and of course most of these files are fat multi-gig beasts), but that’s a minor quibble compared to the convenience of being able to get media files on and off the Humax so easily.