In a world seemingly dominated by streaming providers like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, there are nonetheless lots of people that want to observe terrestrial TV. The issue is that the majority Freeview containers are frustratingly gradual, complicated to make use of or are only a bit ‘dumb’ in comparison with sensible media streamers just like the Roku Streaming Stick+ and Nvidia Defend. Manhattan is trying to change that with the discharge of the Manhattan T3-R, providing a premium Freeview Play expertise with out the month-to-month subscription you’ll get from the likes of Sky and Virgin Media.
Providing the flexibility to pause and file stay TV, watch a collection of on-demand content material from UK broadcasters together with BBC, ITV, Channel four and Channel 5 and the cleanest person interface I’ve seen in a very long time, the Manhattan T3-R provides an important TV-watching expertise.
Design and construct
The Manhattan T3-R is a pretty nondescript set-top field, however that’s not essentially a nasty factor given you’ll in all probability need it to mix into your TV setup, somewhat than draw consideration to itself. It’s a mixture of shiny and matte black, with rounded corners and a single front-facing LED to point the present standing of the field. At 265mm x 207mm x 53mm, it’s definitely not the most important set-top field I’ve ever seen, and it ought to match snugly into most TV setups.
On the rear, you’ll discover Aerial in, Loop Out (to make use of an inside TV tuner), Ethernet, HDMI, Optical and USB ports, however the latter is just for offline software program updates and energy, so it received’t play content material from your reminiscence stick.
It ought to come as no shock that the T3-R comes bundled with a distant, however what’s helpful in regards to the distant – apart from the shortcuts to varied sensible capabilities of the field – is its capacity to manage your TV’s energy and audio system too. It means you’ll solely want a single distant to your TV setup, somewhat than switching between two relying on what you wish to do.
In relation to Freeview set-top containers, the UIs are normally sluggish, unintuitive and customarily irritating to make use of, however that may’t be mentioned of the T3-R. The Freeview Play interface provides fast entry to lots of the core capabilities of the field, like your watchlists, TV information, on-demand content material and recorded content material, and the EPG is each simple to navigate (as much as seven days previously and future) and packed filled with helpful details about what’s on TV.
There’s not a touch of stutter both, a refreshing change from my Philips Ambilight TV’s built-in (and frustratingly gradual) EPG.
Options and efficiency
The Manhattan T3-R helps 4K, however don’t count on to get 4K when watching previous episodes of Prime Gear on Dave. There are 85 channels at present accessible by way of Freeview, however solely 15 are HD – the bulk are output in normal definition. That’s not a criticism of the set-top field although; it’s a limitation of Freeview generally, and with out 4K on premium TV providers, that received’t be altering on the free-to-view service anytime quickly.
So, the place does the 4K HDR content material come from? It’s primarily accessible by way of on-demand apps like YouTube and BBC iPlayer the place accessible, though with out devoted Netflix and Amazon Prime Video apps, there’s a gaping gap within the T3-R’s 4K providing.
However with that being mentioned, the Freeview Play set-top field does supply a wide array of UK catch-up apps. In actual fact, with BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4, My5, UKTV Play, BBC Information & Sports activities, CBS Catch-up, YouTube Youngsters and Horror Bites, it provides complete protection of UK-focused content material.
That is the primary power of the Freeview Play system, because the collection of on-demand apps permits you to return as much as seven days in the T3-R’s rolling TV information and use the streaming providers to catch-up on reveals you would possibly’ve missed. Deciding on an accessible BBC program will open the present in iPlayer, for instance. You’ll be able to even create customized watchlists comprised of on-demand content material from the varied on-demand apps, and that’s a characteristic not provided by another Freeview Play field available on the market proper now.
In addition to the suite of catch-up providers, you’ve additionally bought the choice of recording your personal content material from TV – consider it like Sky Q with out the month-to-month subscription – and is ideal for these reveals not accessible on UK streaming providers.
In addition to with the ability to pause and rewind stay TV, you’ll be able to file reveals on two channels concurrently when you’re watching a 3rd. Manhattan is trying into providing three-channel recording capabilities and rolling it out by way of software program replace in September, however within the meantime, the field is wise sufficient to recommend various broadcasts to make recording content material from greater than two channels doable.
The set-top field is offered in 500GB and 1TB configurations, providing 300 and 600 hours of SD seize respectively. It’s greater than seemingly that you just’ll be capturing SD footage with the ratio of SD and HD channels accessible by way of Freeview, however it’s price noting that it’ll be captured in no matter high quality the supply is, so when you’ve bought a selection of recording BBC1 or BBC1 HD, I’d go along with the latter.
HD channels are sharp and artefact-free, matching broadcast high quality, whereas SD channels don’t fairly supply the identical degree of element – however once more, it’s what was proven on TV, so it’s not technically a fault of the T3-R.
Decision output ranges from 720p to 2160p, and the system provides a Match Body Charge setting to be sure to’re having fun with the unique 24, 30 or 60 frames per second of the content material being proven. It ought to assist keep away from stuttering, particularly relating to increased body price content material.
On the audio entrance, you’ll discover assist for Dolby Digital Plus and stereo sound, which must be tremendous for many, however it might not be sufficient to entice cinema followers.
It might appear apparent, however it’s price noting you’ll want an lively web connection nicely as an aerial connection to utilize each the Freeview and on-demand TV of the Manhattan T3-R, with the previous accessible by way of Wi-Fi and a wired Ethernet connection. Wi-Fi appears steady sufficient to stream on-demand content material in my testing, however relying in your setup, it’s possible you’ll have to go for an Ethernet connection.
Value and availability
You’ll be able to choose up the Manhattan T3-R at £169.99 for the 500GB mannequin from Amazon and Currys, whereas people who need the bigger 1TB mannequin can head to Amazon and choose it up for £199. It’s dearer than many Freeview containers available on the market, however with premium options like pausing and recording stay TV, it’s a worthy buy when you watch a number of TV. It boasts the same set of options to Sky and Virgin Media, though there’s a far more restricted choice when it comes to channels in comparison with the premium choices.
If that’s just a little an excessive amount of to your price range, have a look at our collection of the greatest media streamers for extra inspiration.
The Manhattan T3-R is a good 4K PVR with out the necessity for a month-to-month subscription, and it’s slick in operation too. It provides the complete Freeview catalogue of 85 channels, with 15 HD channels included, and due to the inclusion of a collection of UK-focused on-demand apps, you’ll be capable to scroll again as much as 7 days in your EPG atone for reveals you would possibly’ve missed. There isn’t any Netflix or Amazon Prime Video although, the one gap in an in any other case near-perfect providing of streaming apps.
When you can’t discover the TV present you wish to watch by way of on-demand apps, you’ve additionally bought the choice of recording it stay, and you’ll file two channels concurrently whereas watching a 3rd, excellent for TV fanatics. The Freeview Play interface is a pleasure to make use of, and there’s not a touch of stutter anyplace.
Primarily, when you’re trying to improve from the usual Freeview expertise to one thing just a little smarter, the Manhattan T3-R is a robust contender.
Manhattan T3-R: Specs
265 x 207 x 53mm
USB (for energy)
85 Freeview channels
Pause, rewind and file stay TV
Document as much as two channels directly whereas watching a 3rd
BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4, My5, UKTV Play, YouTube & YouTube Youngsters apps
500GB or 1TB storage
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