This time last year TV vendors were flogging 3D as a reason to buy a new TV, this year its Smart TV technology and before that it was the introduction of Freeview, a technology that was more about controlling ad skipping than watching TV.
So what do you do? Go along with what TV vendors are telling you or, do you go and buy a digital TV recorder that has smart technology built into a box that can be attached to any TV and is still there when you upgrade your TV.
Click to enlarge
One such box is the new $449 Humax HDR 7500T which includes the Ice TV electronic program guide as well as the ability to instantly skip TV advertising with the press of a button. $200 cheaper than the premium priced $650 Topfield
Masterpiece + the Humax offering has a lot going for it.
Already the bestselling DVR in the UK and Germany the new Humax offering has a significantly smaller footprint than previous model, digital set top boxes from other vendors, it's also easier on the eyes with a sleek black plastic casing that is more like the new generation HD TV's now being sold by retailers.
At 380mm wide, 55mm high, 246mm deep and weighing just 2.75kg, this device can easily sit next to a TV or be slid away into a TV cabinet.
Out of the box this device is easy to configure but don't bank on being able to easily read the Humax Quick Installation Guide. The text is well below an acceptable 10 point font used by most publishers and even with glasses on I struggled to read the installation document.
Under the bonnet the Humax offering is well specked with the option of a 500GB or 1TB hard drive. Personally I think a 500GB drive is irrelevant today as there is little difference in price between 500GB and a one Terabyte version.If my Foxtel Q Box which has a 500GB drive is anything to go by you can easily run out of space when recording shows over a two week period which I often do when I am away.
The HDR 7500T has twin tuners and allows for chasing and time shift recording.
What I would like to see in future digital recorders is the ability to backward record TV programs that one has missed or failed to record. Currently we can only record forward programs for seven days, but there is a DVR in development the UK which has a 7 day backward electronic program guide.
The quality of the image delivered to the screen using the Humax DVR was excellent. With built in 1080 HD and upscaling that allows 720p content to be upscaled to 1080p the device is as good if not better than several other digital video recorders that we have reviewed.
With a built in Ethernet port the device can be easily plugged into the Internet however a big letdown is the lack of built Wi Fi.
Instead users are given a Humax WI Fi adapter which has to be plugged into the single USB port which makes it difficult to attach an external USB attach storage device when using Wi Fi.
One of the most noticable improvements with this device is the self-help configuration guide, that pops up when you first turn on the DVR. After being prompted to identify where you live the device easily configures the TV stations.
Unlike several other DVR devices the Humax software delivers the various stations in logical order using very clear fonts which are easy to read.