Humax Aura a great Freeview PVR (but missing stuff)
Humax released the Aura a while back and it’s a great little PVR (it comes in 1TB or 2TB versions which equates to 500/250 or 1000/500 hours of SD/HD recordings respectively) and supports displaying 4K HDR10 on a 4K TV for supported apps.
It runs genuine Android TV (v9 Pie) which is optimised for this kind of device and it has the Google Play store for downloading apps (not all apps will run on a PVR) and it can be paired with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. You do need to sign into your Google account in order to actually download anything and use the added functionality. It runs on a 4 core CPU with 16GB of Flash storage and 3GB of RAM.
It has Google Assistant built in, which allows controlling the system and well as normal assistant functionality. There’s also built-in Chromecast, so content on an Android phone can be displayed through the PVR.
As a Freeview Play device, it’s possible to record future programs (and series links) as well as catching-up on stuff that you may have missed (requires an Internet connection). The EPG is 7 days in future as well as 7 days past which directly accesses the Freeview Play catch-up service.
If you happen to have content on a USB drive, plug it in and play away (as long as it’s FAT32 formatted) via the USB3.0 port, accessing NAS drives via the network also works and it’s possible to install a Plex client (via Google Play) for added functionality.
There’s an accompanying Aura app (Android/iOS) that allows live streaming, recording and reminders etc.
The remote is easy to use and allows access to the EPG and a big button with Prime Video to access Amazon Video. There are a lot of apps available, but there’s a HUGE omission in that so far there’s no direct access to Netflix (that may not matter if you have a relatively modern TV with it built in). There are ‘hacks’ around to side load Netfix, but no official version seems to be available and it looks unlikely it will ever appear.
The actual box is nicely sized (258 x 43 x 200 mm) and easily fits under or next to a TV, on the front there’s a strip that glows red if in standby and blue if turned on, it will go purple if recording or orange if recording in standby and white for Google Assistant.
The Ethernet LAN port supports Gigabit Ethernet connectivity or there’s 2.4/5GHz WiFi.
There’s an co-ax input and output for the aerial connection (and to TV) and also a single HDMI port (supporting HDMI 2.1 with HDCP 2.3 and CEC) and a S/PDIF optical port for audio out (to say a sound bar). There’s Dolby Audio (Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus) Dolby Atmos (pass-through) DTS-X surround sound (pass-through) over HDMI as well as HD Audio at 24bit/192KHz.
Nicely Humax include an Ethernet, HDMI and co-ax cable and batteries for the remote.
When the system is initially powered it takes a while to set-up (needs to tune, upgrade Android TV and any apps) and it can be fiddly if you get the order wrong.
Settings are also accessed by pressing the Freeview button, which isn’t necessarily obvious, but everything is really an app on Google TV.
Though the lack of Netflix may be a game changer for some, it does have access to a lot of video services such as BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and My5, iPlayer etc. It’s also possible to run some games, though those that require additional peripherals may not work as expected.
The RRP is £249 for the 1TB version and £279 for the 2TB though on-line prices may be cheaper.