I’ve been playing with a pre-production sample of the Icecrypt T2400 Freeview HD recorder for a few days now. First, let me make it clear that the unit I have is not a final one – it’s got a smaller hard drive, for instance – and the firmware is still being tweaked. So, I’m not going to give a run-down of problems I’ve found, until I’m sure that the firmware I have is one that ordinary users will get to see – I don’t think it would be fair to do that.
What I will talk about are some of the impressions I’ve gained so far.
Starting with the outside, the box looks pretty straightforward; the front has the click-wheel control, with a power button to the left, and below it are two small extra buttons, menu and exit. There’s a display in the centre of the panel, and on the right is a flap, behind which is one of the USB ports, and blanked off slots for card reader and CI bay – that’s not too unusual in products like this, where often the same case is used in different markets.
I was a little unsure how to work the click wheel at first (my unit didn’t come with instructions), but eventually sussed it. During normal viewing, you can turn it left and right to control the volume. Press it, and the channel list pops up, then rotating scrolls up and down the list; when you reach the channel you want, press again to switch to that channel.
Using the menus took a little more figuring out; press the menu button below the wheel and the main menu pops up. Moving left and right scrolls through the sections, and pressing will select the first item in each section. If you want to select another, press the Menu button again, then you can scroll up and down, and press to select.
The remote control has a good positive feel to it, and the layout of the buttons is reasonably logical, to me at any rate. A very nice touch is the dedicated Audio Description button, at the bottom left. And when this is pressed, there’s also an audible tone through the speakers, once if it’s been turned off and twice if it’s been turned on, so you know the setting is right, even if there isn’t an AD at the moment.
The user interface isn’t the prettiest, but nor is it the clunkiest; the wizard that helps you install the T2400 is simple to work through, largely just by pressing the OK button, and the menus and configuration screens are pretty straightforward.
I’m not terribly keen on the yellow highlights myself, but I’m sure some people will like them; they’re less annoying, in my view, on the smaller items, like the pop-up recording status, than on the info bar that appears when you change channels.
If you’re chase playing, the end of a recording is entirely glitch free – no jumping to live, or anything like that. And you can set a configurable jump forwards. There’s no jump backwards button, but a press of the up arrow on the remote brings up a progress bar, and the left and right arrows can then nudge the playback position forwards or backwards too; in conjunction with the jump, this is a fairly easy way to avoid things you don’t want to see, or skip backwards if you’ve jumped too far, or been talked at during a crucial bit of dialogue.
Setting recordings is simple; you’ll be presented with a choice of series, or single record, and recommendations are clearly displayed, so you know what you’re getting if you select those. Series are automatically filed in folders for you.
There’s also trailer booking support; I’ve only seen it pop up once, with a ‘Book me’ flag on screen, and didn’t have time to leap for the remote control, but I’ll check it out later.
Still a work in progress
I’ll stress again that this is still not a finished firmware; I’ve not commented on media playback functionality, because that’s still being developed, and if I say that a certain of file won’t play now, there’s no guarantee that will hold true.
I have sent feedback that a single channel view in the EPG would be a good idea, and I hope that will appear – especially in view of the relatively small amount of programme data shown at one time in the current layout.
Another missing feature at the moment is Dolby Digital transcoding; whether or not that will appear, I can’t say at the moment, but I hope very much that it does.
I’ll be continuing to play as more new firmwares arrive, and will post more info as I have it. Overall, reasonably favourable – I’d say this machine will firmly be in the Digital Stream class, rather than the Humax class, given current functionality.