When I first reviewed the Icecrypt T2200 Freeview HD box for RegHardware, one of the promised features was an update to enable recording to USB hard drives. And now, I’ve managed to get my hands on a beta version of the firmware that makes it possible.
You’ll need a USB stick or external hard drive, and though the T2200 can play back from FAT-formatted devices, it can only record to those formatted using NTFS. While it can format a drive via the Installation menu (System Recovery / Format Hard Disk) it won’t do that if it doesn’t recognise the partitoning – in fact, the drive won’t even show up as available.
So, to re-use a drive that had been formatted using the Digital Stream PVR, for example, I had to delete the partitions and recreate them in Windows, before the T2200 would recognise the drive – but considering many other PVRs want drives formatted in Linux, that’s not a major worry.
Setting a recording is a simple matter; just highlight a programme in the EPG and press Record, or press OK twice (the first press sets a ‘pre-select’, which changes to the channel, but doesn’t record).
You can also do an instant record – just press the record button while watching TV, and it will run for the time specified in the Recordings menu. Press the button again and a pop-up allows you to specify a duration, or ‘after this programme’ or ‘after next programme.’
There’s no series linking or automatic tracking of start and stop times at the moment, but you can set repeat recordings with options for every day, every weekday, every weekend, or weekly, and you can adjust start time and duration to give you a bit of leeway in case the schedules slip.
The Recording menu in the settings section also allows you to turn on buffering, so you can rewind live tv for 30 minutes, 1 hours, or even up to five hours.
Two other points worth mentioning: first, while recording you can watch another channel on the same multiplex, and second the box will record from standby, and then go back to sleep afterwards.
During playback, you’ll find some useful features in common with Topfield’s PVRs. For example, type a two digit number, like 75, on the keypad, and playback jumps to the 75% position.
Pressing the play button brings up the on-screen progress bar. While this is displayed, you can use the |< and >| keys to jump to the start or end.
Whether the progress bar is displayed or not, press green to set a bookmark, and yellow to jump to the next bookmark. If no bookmarks are set, then the yellow button will jump forwards 30 seconds. Fast forward doubles each time you press the button, up to 64x.
There’s a reasonable file browser – you can create folders, and move files to them, though the on-screen keyboard isn’t the easiest to use.
It’s worth noting that although the files are saved as .rec (which is the format used on Topfield PVRs), you won’t be able to play them on your PC. You can see them, but they’re encrypted, to comply with the Freeview HD content controls. Even SD recordings are protected at the moment, though perhaps that may change in future.
Installing the update
If you want to have a play, you can download the zip file for the update below. Note that it’s a beta test, so use at your own risk. Unzip the file and copy the TFD file onto a USB stick. Plug it into the T2200, and you should see an on-screen message telling you that a device has been connected – if not, try another USB stick; it worked for me with one formatted as FAT-16, but not as FAT-32.
When the stick has been detected, go to the main menu, select Installation, then Firmware Upgrade, and USB Firmware upgrade. The screen will show a file browser, and you should see the firmware file; select it and press OK to begin the update.