- Discrete, looks good
- Can connect to other Humax equipment
- Optical out
- Very limited content
- Cheaper alternatives offer more content
Humax has been around for years, offering Freeview, Freesat and Youview set top TV boxes. Now they have taken the leap into the streaming world and are offering up the H3 Espresso Smart Media Player, capable of streaming live TV and on demand services. This little box fits in your hand and looks to be packed with features.
First off, let’s see what the box can do:
- On demand services such as Netflix and YouTube but no Amazon Prime!
- TVPlayer included and allows you to stream live TV. Over 99 channels are available, including 25 premium channels not on Freeview or Freesat.
- Multi room TV without the need for an aerial.
- Media player so you can connect to external devices.
- Wireless display, stream content from your phone or table onto the TV.
So it looks like it will do some of the same things your smart TV may already do, plus a little more. The live TV catches my eye and will be interested to see how well that works.
The box landed on my desk and it’s very small. Open it up and I’m greeted by a very small TV box, one of the smallest I’ve seen, plus a remote control, power lead, HDMI cable and a set of instructions. It’s so very small and light, and even fits in the palm of my hand. It’s got glossy black sides, with a dark, grainy, wood effect on top. I’m not sure the wood effect will be for everyone but it works for me. It looks like a high end piece of kit and not tacky at all. On the sides of the box you will find a HDMI port, USB port, ethernet port, optical in for your digital audio and power input.
Plugging it in is very straight forward, a minimum of the HDMI and power lead is required although the box does accept WiFi for wireless streaming from a laptop or PC. The box sets itself up, with only a couple of things you need to select like the time, date and WiFi. You have to agree to the Humax terms and conditions to continue to use. All in all, very quick and very simple to set up. The home screen and how the Humax user interface looks and feels is beautiful. It’s got a very sleek and modern look to it and it’s very easy to navigate and use. You control the box with either the supplied remote control, or the free Humax app available on IOS and Android alike. I tried both and there is more functionality via the app but the remote is more than capable of doing what you need. I do love the dedicated Netflix button on the remote. One click and you have instant movies and TV series on demand, as long as you have a Netflix subscription of course, this isn’t included.
At the top of the home screen is the Netflix, YouTube and TVplayer apps. These are pre-installed on the box so you don’t need to worry about installing them. I’m sure you know the deal with both Netflix and YouTube, so I wont talk about them, but TVplayer is a new app to me. I’ve heard of it before but never used it in app form and in essence, it allows you view live TV from a number of TV channels. The channels available to view include, BBC 1, ITV and Channel 4, along with a number of premium channels that are available for a small monthly fee. Premium channels include Comedy Central, MTV, History, Discovery and Nickelodeon. You get two months free access to these channels when you purchase the box. It then rolls into a monthly subscription of £4.99. Netflix and YouTube run perfectly fine and are HD quality. However, I wasn’t able to get a HD quality stream via TVplayer, it also buffered a little too! I was running at 89mbps via ethernet which was a little disappointing to experience.
There are two app stores on the box. A general one and a kid’s one. Both of which are very very limited and only offer a few additional apps you can download. There are a few games under the kid’s section that may be enjoyable and keep them happy for a while. The box has a built in 8GB hard drive, so you should be able to download quite a few apps with that. Other apps include a web browser and file manager, so you can plug in a USB stick and view its content. The box is also a media player, so long as you know the network details, you can connect to network enabled devices such as a NAS box.
The final few features include the ability to cast content from your mobile device, to the box. Unfortunately, this is currently only available on Android devices. Also, if you have other Humax gear, such as the Freeview Play FVP-4000T PVR, the smart box can connect to this and allow you to watch live TV from one of the FVP’s built in three tuners. Lastly, if you have a Humax Eye IP Cloud camera, you can monitor this on screen.
To summerise, the box is really good, even if the content is lacking a little. Not only does the box look good, its interface is easy to use, its build quality is high and it outputs HD video and digital sound. The disappointing part is the content on the box. No Amazon Prime, no Spotify, basically, no other apps other than Netflix, YouTube and TVPlayer. I really like the idea of TVplayer and it does work but as for paying a monthly subscription for some ‘premium channels’, which I feel are not that premium, is a lot of money. For the same price, you can get Now TV and get much better channels to view.
Weighing up the pros and cons, and if you have other Humax gear you can connect to the Espresso, this could be a real asset to your set up. Without those other products, you may be better off with one of the Now TV compatible boxes which will offer more content. The Humax H3 currently retails at £79.99. For further info and to purchase, visit the official Humax website.