Humax HDR video playback

Having recently acquired a Humax HDR-Fox T2 (a Freeview+HD PVR for the uninitiated), I have been spending some time exploring its capabilities.

Since I was ditching the Media Center, I was pleased to find the PVR functions a big improvement. So far (over a month and a half) it has been rock solid and has never missed a recording. Even the "accurate recording" feature - where the box uses the in-band now/next EPG data to determine exact start times for programmes - has been faultless. But I was also very keen to find out about its media playback capabilities. I have archived all my DVDs onto my ReadyNAS Duo and do watch some downloaded HD TV shows not broadcast in the UK, so this area is quite important to me.

In truth I knew that the Hummy was never going to beat the pure flexibility of the Media Center in this regard, but it does have the ability to play videos, music and pictures from its own hard drive, USB devices and DLNA network servers. Whilst I also have a PS3 to play most videos (except MKVs, unfortunately), we use the Hummy to watch most TV and so it'd be very convenient if it could play everything. Then it truly would be a match for Media Center. So I started to do some testing. I can report that, on the current firmware 1.01.09, it's not quite "there" IMO. I played back a few test files, testing whether it plays them correctly and whether the playback controls (fast forwards/back, skip and navigating along the seek bar) work correctly.

If you can fill in any of the blanks, please leave a comment and I'll update the matrix.

Streaming via DLNA, HDMI output set to 1080p and stereo L-PCM
Container Video Audio Plays Seek Skip Fast-forward/back
VOB MPEG2 SD AC3 5.1 Yes Yes Yes No
MPG MPEG2 SD AC3 5.1 Yes Yes Yes No
TS MPEG2 SD AC3 5.1 Yes No No No
M2TS MPEG2 SD AC3 5.1 Yes No No No
MP4 MPEG2 SD AC3 5.1 No video - - -
MKV MPEG2 SD AC3 5.1 Not supported - - -
AVI Xvid SD MP3 stereo Yes Yes Yes Yes
VOB H.264 720p AC3 5.1 ? ? ? ?
MPG H.264 720p AC3 5.1 ? ? ? ?
TS H.264 720p AC3 5.1 Yes No No No
M2TS H.264 720p AC3 5.1 Yes No No No
MP4 H.264 720p AC3 5.1 No, crashes - - -
MP4 H.264 720p AAC 5.1 No, crashes - - -
MKV H.264 720p AC3 5.1 Not supported - - -
MKV H.264 720p AAC 5.1 Not supported - - -
Playback from HDD or USB, HDMI output set to 1080p and stereo L-PCM
Container Video Audio Plays Seek Skip Fast-forward/back
VOB MPEG2 SD AC3 5.1 Yes No No No
MPG MPEG2 SD AC3 5.1 ? ? ? ?
TS MPEG2 SD AC3 5.1 ? ? ? ?
M2TS MPEG2 SD AC3 5.1 ? ? ? ?
AVI Xvid SD MP3 stereo ? ? ? ?
AVI Xvid SD AAC Yes ? ? ?
VOB H.264 720p AC3 5.1 ? ? ? ?
MPG H.264 720p AC3 5.1 ? ? ? ?
TS H.264 720p AC3 5.1 ? ? ? ?
M2TS H.264 720p AC3 5.1 ? ? ? ?
MP4 H.264 720p AC3 5.1 Yes Yes Yes Yes
MP4 H.264 720p AAC 5.1 No, crashes - - -
MKV H.264 720p AC3 5.1 Yes* Yes Yes Yes
MKV H.264 720p AAC 5.1 No, crashes - - -

* This worked in my tests, but others have reported some problems with specific files.

Comments

I've been trying to stream from a NAS using DLNA. In general it seems great. I have been copying the DVDs to the NAS. I then play back the relevant VOBs. The first VOB plays fine. all subsequent VOBs have a lot of breakup on the audio, did you notice this? (I am playing individual VOBs as recorded on the DVD).

Sorry Stuart for not seeing these comments earlier, I haven't found this specific issue but have seen many different problems streaming direct VOB copies. I find that it is very often necessary to re-author the DVD. You also need to watch out for multiple audio streams (DLNA clients don't always pick the right one, playing the audio description stream instead of the main audio, for example) and forced subtitles in movies with foreign language segments (DLNA clients tend not to show subtitles).

I tend to first check for forced subtitles using a subtitle editor software. If there are any, or it is a foreign language film and I want it subtitled, I use Handbrake to re-encode as H.264 MP4s with the subtitles burned in. If there aren't any, I use DVD Shrink to re-author the DVD. I take only the main movie title and only select one audio stream. I do tend to keep subtitles just in case I end up getting a player that can read them, because it does no harm to keep them.

The VOBs should then play sequentially just fine.

BTW I'm using a wired connection. The files play fine through using SMB file shares under windows (may get a DLNA player and check them out under windows),

Brillaint - just what i was looking for - DLNA codec and container support is a minefield! Thanks for putting this together.

Hi Andy, just got my HDR-Fox T2 and I am trying to figure out what it can play, can you help? I tried to play the following from my USB stick but I had no success (the first few hundred ms of video plays, then I get an "unsupported" error).

It is H.264 720p & AC3 5.1 (I think). Can you spot the difference?

 

any help is appreciated. jim.

 

General
Complete name                    : [HD] Psychoville S02E01.mkv
Format                           : Matroska
File size                        : 607 MiB
Duration                         : 29mn 14s
Overall bit rate                 : 2 900 Kbps
Encoded date                     : UTC 2011-05-06 03:48:17
Writing application              : mkvmerge v4.7.0 ('Just Like You Imagined') built on Apr 21 2011 01:13:14
Writing library                  : libebml v1.2.0 + libmatroska v1.1.0

Video
ID                               : 1
Format                           : AVC
Format/Info                      : Advanced Video Codec
Format profile                   : [email protected]
Format settings, CABAC           : Yes
Format settings, ReFrames        : 2 frames
Muxing mode                      : Container [email protected]
Codec ID                         : V_MPEG4/ISO/AVC
Duration                         : 29mn 14s
Bit rate                         : 2 458 Kbps
Nominal bit rate                 : 2 515 Kbps
Width                            : 1 280 pixels
Height                           : 720 pixels
Display aspect ratio             : 16:9
Frame rate                       : 25.000 fps
Resolution                       : 8 bits
Colorimetry                      : 4:2:0
Scan type                        : Progressive
Bits/(Pixel*Frame)               : 0.107
Stream size                      : 514 MiB (85%)
Writing library                  : x264 core 114 r1924 08d04a4
Encoding settings                : cabac=1 / ref=2 / deblock=1:0:0 / analyse=0x3:0x113 / me=hex / subme=5 / psy=1 / psy_rd=0.00:0.00 / mixed_ref=1 / me_range=16 / chroma_me=1 / trellis=1 / 8x8dct=1 / c
qm=0 / deadzone=21,11 / fast_pskip=0 / chroma_qp_offset=0 / threads=12 / sliced_threads=0 / nr=0 / decimate=1 / interlaced=0 / constrained_intra=0 / bframes=3 / b_pyramid=0 / b_adapt=1 / b_bias=0 / dir
ect=3 / weightb=1 / open_gop=0 / weightp=2 / keyint=250 / keyint_min=25 / scenecut=40 / intra_refresh=0 / rc_lookahead=40 / rc=2pass / mbtree=1 / bitrate=2515 / ratetol=1.3 / qcomp=0.50 / qpmin=10 / qp
max=51 / qpstep=4 / cplxblur=20.0 / qblur=0.5 / vbv_maxrate=24000 / vbv_bufsize=24000 / nal_hrd=none / ip_ratio=1.30 / aq=1:1.00

Audio
ID                               : 2
Format                           : AC-3
Format/Info                      : Audio Coding 3
Codec ID                         : A_AC3
Duration                         : 29mn 14s
Bit rate mode                    : Constant
Bit rate                         : 384 Kbps
Channel(s)                       : 6 channels
Channel positions                : Front: L C R, Surround: L R, LFE
Sampling rate                    : 48.0 KHz
Video delay                      : 32ms
Stream size                      : 80.3 MiB (13%)
Title                            : Eng ac3 3/2

Text
ID                               : 3
Format                           : UTF-8
Codec ID                         : S_TEXT/UTF8
Codec ID/Info                    : UTF-8 Plain Text
Title                            : eng subs FTHOH

I'm afraid I have no idea, the files I tested worked but in general the support for video codec playback is pretty patchy so I would not be surprised to find bugs or incompatibilities. For example the Humax might not like high bitrate spikes, High Profile, or other encoding settings.

I'll add a note to the matrix though.

VOBs play back from the HDD or a USB drive but there is no seek,skip or fast forward available

Thanks, have updated the matrix

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