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Finest set-top packing containers 2023

9 min read

With the Web streaming changing into extra prevalent, the way in which by which we eat is altering as OTT video providers and platforms turn out to be extra widespread. However the good ol’ set-top field is evolving with the instances, getting smarter and packing numerous options in a one-box answer.

Set-top packing containers include a big selection of performance, with help for 4K UHD content material, HDR content material and multi-room performance. In addition to that, there are completely different storage choices for individuals who wish to document and preserve content material. Not everybody has time to observe the most recent reveals as and after they come out.

The likes of Sky, BT and Virgin all make set-top packing containers, in addition to different manufacturers resembling Humax and Manhattan. We’ve reviewed loads of them and this listing right here is that of the most effective set-top packing containers we’ve examined. We have a look at their video and audio efficiency, assess how simple it’s to navigate their interfaces and take a look at out their recoding options. There’s additionally these streaming providers, and we’ll look and assess which of them the packing containers have for individuals who need entry to the streaming providers together with their extra ‘conventional’ TV providers.

We’ve settled on choices for Freeview and satellite tv for pc customers. If you happen to’re seeking to transfer from one TV supplier to a different, take a look beneath to see what’s on provide. If a set-top field doesn’t pique your curiosity simply but, then take a look at our greatest streaming units if you wish to ditch PVR and satellite tv for pc altogether.

Finest set-top packing containers at a look

How we take a look at

Study extra about how we take a look at set-top packing containers

We watch lots of TV on these set-top packing containers, listening to the picture and sound high quality. When attainable, we evaluate that image high quality to what’s anticipated from the tv itself, to gauge what, if something, these set-top packing containers are bringing to the image.

Interface is a giant a part of how we overview set-top packing containers. Is the distant simple to make use of and aware of presses. Is the consumer interface intuitive? Is it simple to navigate and what types of navigation does it help? All this stuff will assist decide how good the consumer expertise is.

And what about content material? How a lot content material is offered, which apps are supported and is help by way of options as much as the requirements we’d anticipate. If a set-top field says it helps apps in 4K HDR, we’ll be on the lookout for apps that truly carry help for these options.

Different options we glance out for are the variety of tuners supported, connectivity and the way do the catch-up options work. Smarts are to be anticipated, and we’ll take a look at these to guage whether or not they’re applied nicely and stay as much as expectations

Lastly, each factor is judged towards the value. If a machine represents good worth typically, we’ll be a bit of extra lenient on a nasty distant. Pricier machines, nevertheless, had higher be nice.


  • Watch virtually every thing wherever
  • Highly effective interface
  • Recordings might be stored eternally
  • A lot of Extremely HD content material
  • HDR and Dolby Atmos


  • Not low cost
  • HDR help restricted
  • Dolby Atmos doesn’t work in apps
  • Requires a satellite tv for pc dish

The Sky Q is a great wanting field, with a design that arguably set the tone for all of the set-top packing containers that adopted just like the BT TV Field Professional. Its type issue is far more engaging than the utilitarian design of the Virgin V6 field.

Sky’s UI is among the finest within the enterprise in our opinion, providing a handy technique of discovering on-demand content material, recordings and searching the TV information. It’s clear in look, loaded with photographs for a extra visual-based technique of interplay in addition to handy textual content descriptions. There are devoted sub-menus for various classes or kinds of programming, which comes useful for extra particular searches.

Sky Q helps a multi-room configuration with extra Mini packing containers. These are small units that hook up with different TVs to stream content material from the principle field. The Mini Packing containers solely help HD whereas the principle Q field streams in 4K, which we discovered to be a disappointing improvement, particularly if the Mini field is related to a 4K TV.

Sky’s vary of content material is huge and arguably the most effective on this listing, with US dramas, comedies, movies, 1000’s of TV box-sets and sport within the Premier League and Method One however the subscriptions should not notably low cost – that is very a a lot a premium service. The UHD content material is healthier than another service present we’ve reviewed, and there’s paid content material although the Sky Retailer that gives entry to immediate downloads.

Our reviewer discovered image high quality to be excellent, with HD programming introduced in sharp element, and UHD content material wanting incredible (though this can rely on the TV its watched on). Sky added HDR help, that brings higher distinction and color constancy to content material. On the audio entrance there’s help for Dolby Atmos, which we discovered produced a step-up in high quality with additional top and width to audio. Simply probably the greatest set-top packing containers should you can afford Sky’s premium subscriptions.

There’s now the choice of Sky Stream, which incorporates Atmos and Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR amongst its specs, for individuals who need a streaming-based answer

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full Overview: Sky Q

Manhattan T3-R

Finest Freeview field


  • Simple to make use of
  • Nice image when recording HD TV channels
  • Quiet HDD operation
  • Private Watchlist for on-demand content material


  • Restricted simultaneous channel recording
  • No Netflix or Amazon Prime Video

The Manhattan T3-R Freeview Play is a great wanting, compact field that may simply match beneath a telly. We discovered connectivity to be good with HDMI, aerial, optical digital audio output, Ethernet and Wi-Fi current. There’s a USB port nevertheless it’s just for energy.

The T3-R comes with 4K HDR help with HDR10 and HLG included for watching in HDR in apps resembling iPlayer and YouTube. We discovered setup was handy, a easy story of hooking the field to a TV and going by means of the method of tuning the channel listing. The interface was simple to make use of and perceive, making certain that even probably the most technophobic will have the ability to discover their method around the interface.

Freeview Play affords 85 channels, though most of those are in normal definition. On TVs lower than 50-inches in measurement and the prevalence of normal definition content material received’t be as huge an issue because it may very well be on 65-inch TVs and larger. Alongside stay TV, Freeview Play has UK streaming catch-up and on-demand apps resembling iPlayer, All4 and My5, however on the time of overview there was no signal of Netflix, Prime Video or Disney+.

There’s a alternative of both a 500GB or 1TB exhausting drive for storing regionally recorded programmes, with 500GB mannequin providing a capability of round 300 hours for normal definition programming with series-linking and stay pause included, which is good to have. The T3-R can now document two channels concurrently, with the power to observe a 3rd.

The T3-R is a strong performer for viewing stay tv. Our reviewer discovered that HD channels resembling NHK look sharp with none artefacts, providing some nice texture and depth. SD content material is respectable by way of image constancy however will rely in your high quality of your TV’s upscaling.

Reviewer: Steve Could
Full Overview: Manhattan T3-R

Freesat 4K TV Recorder

Finest Freesat field


  • File as much as 4 reveals
  • Easy interface
  • Helps HDR and Extremely HD


  • Channel 4 not in HD
  • No Dolby Imaginative and prescient

If Sky Q is simply too costly, then the Freesat 4K TV Recorder is a extra reasonably priced satellite tv for pc various. It’s a neat wanting field, with nearly every thing you would want by way of connections with an HDMI port, Ethernet, a digital audio port for audio, and a pair of satellite tv for pc inputs.

How these satellite tv for pc inputs are used relies on which sort of LNB (Low Noise Block) the satellite tv for pc dish has. An ordinary LNB permits for 2 channels to be watched concurrently, whereas wideband affords as much as 4. There’s additionally Wi-Fi for streaming over the Web.

Throughout testing we discovered the interface to be responsive and intuitive, with the minimally designed menus that includes handy entry to on-demand apps, stay programming and saved recordings. We additionally discovered a wide selection of stay channels with 180 made accessible though solely 24 broadcast in HD.

On-demand content material constitutes of BBC iPlayer, My5, STV Participant and UKTV Play, giving entry to many of the principal free-to-air channels. There’s additional comfort with a cellular app that permits for recording reveals whenever you’re exterior the home, though it’s value noting it takes as much as half-hour for recordings to look on the field itself.

On the subject of visible high quality, we discovered the Freesat conveyed HD channels in an in depth and sharp with no artefacts. With SD content material, there’s the everyday softness across the edges of individuals and objects issues, though the Freesat field does an honest job of lowering artefacts the place attainable.

Not like Sky Q, Extremely HD isn’t accessible on Freesat platform itself, with solely Netflix and YouTube help 4K HDR. Watching Netflix in 4K HDR and our reviewer famous extra influence by way of wonderful element and hues with extra subtleties in tone. A strong field and a extra reasonably priced worth than Sky, though with out as a lot content material.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full Overview: Freesat 4K TV Recorder

We additionally thought of…


Can I get Netflix and Disney+ on set-top packing containers?

Sure, that’s more and more a risk on set-top packing containers, although not all packing containers help the principle apps.

Do set-top packing containers help 4K and HDR?

Sure, the times of simply HD help is being left behind as extra set-top packing containers help 4K and HDR10

What number of channels can I document concurrently on a set-top field?

That determine relies on the set-top field itself. Some can have as much as 7 tuners for recording, others 4 and a few have fewer than that.



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