The Manhattan T4 and T4-R, two exciting new Freeview boxes, will launch in the UK this year – and we have an exclusive first look at these successors to the popular T3 and T3-R Freeview devices.
The T4-R, which is going to be more powerful (and even snappier) than its predecessor, will bring with it several long-requested features, such as global EPG search, while the T4 promises to be a compact Freeview Play device with new features and a competitive price.
The two brand-new Freeview boxes are expected to launch around
July August October 2023, and while the pricing hasn’t been officially announced yet, it’s expected to be similar to that of the T3 and T3-R.
Manhattan’s T3-R Freeview recorder has long been our Editor’s Choice in our list of the best Freeview Boxes, combining excellent features at an affordable price, with the T3 Freeview Play box being an excellent mid-range option as well.
However, updates to these two older devices have gotten a little sparse in the past year, in part due to the global chip shortage during 2020’s lockdowns, which made it harder to manufacture more T3s and T3-Rs.
Therefore, the T3 was discontinued a couple of years ago – and the T3-R has been recently discontinued as well. We’re told, however, that once the T4 series is released – support for the T3 series will continue, with some new features potentially coming from the T4-R to the T3-R as well.
Manhattan’s Freeview History
UK-based Manhattan was founded back in 1992, first as a manufacturer of Satellite TV receivers.
In 2010, two years after the birth of Freesat, Manhattan launched its first Freesat box, the Manhattan DS-100, followed by several other Freesat boxes (they still sell the popular Manhattan SX Freesat receiver).
Eventually, the company started making Freeview boxes – first the T1, and then, in 2019, the T3-R was launched – a 4K Freeview Play recorder with 500GB/1TB storage space that can record up to 600 hours (depending on the model) – see my full Manhattan T3-R review.
In 2022, Freeview stopped allowing manufacturers to produce official Freeview boxes without support for Freeview Play (Freeview’s broadband-connected tier that combines standard Freeview with streaming apps like BBC iPlayer).
When that happened, Manhattan’s T1 and T2-R (the Freeview recorder that didn’t support Freeview Play) were also officially retired.
Therefore, the flagship T3-R was the only model still being manufactured. That has recently ended as well – but its replacement is on its way.
Manhattan T4 and T4-R: First Look
While I wasn’t able to do an actual hands-on review of the new T4-series boxes just yet, Manhattan were kind enough to give us a few exclusive details about the upcoming boxes and some of their new features and hardware.
As with the 3 series, the T4 will be a Freeview Play box without recording capabilities, while the T4-R will be the recording version – meaning you will be able to record hundreds of hours of HD programming from Freeview.
Freeview Over Broadband?
As is usually the case with Freeview, customers will still need an aerial for the T4 and T4-R boxes to deliver Freeview channels over the air.
Despite several pay-TV companies already offering Freeview-over-broadband, such as with Sky Glass, Sky Stream and Virgin Media Stream, Everyone.TV (formerly Digital UK – the company that develops Freeview) doesn’t provide a full streaming version of Freeview yet.
There has been some talk of that, with the concept of Freeview IP-fallback (that is – switching to streaming a channel over broadband if aerial reception is unavailable), but no confirmed timelines have been set yet.
The T4 and T4-R, however, will support the required technology for Freeview-over-broadband. Therefore, if and when Freeview decides to implement it and start streaming channels over broadband – the T4 and T4-R boxes will be ready for it.
The T4 and T4-R will also support Channel List Management, a newer Freeview function that enables HD-swapping of channels.
That means that, on supported channels (such as some of the BBC’s channels), HD channels will automatically become the prominent channels on supported devices (so BBC One HD will move to Channel 1, for example, instead of being on Channel 101).
T4 and T4-R Streaming Apps
As with any Freeview Play device, both boxes will support a long list of streaming apps – BBC iPlayer, All 4, My5, UKTV Play, CBS Catchup Channels UK, Legend, STV Player, POP Player, PBS American and BBC Sounds, along with a YouTube app.
And what about ITVX, ITV’s new streaming app which replaced ITV Hub, many readers will ask?
Several older Freeview boxes – including the once-popular Humax FVP-5000T, never received ITVX support, and even Manhattan’s own T3 and T3-R don’t have the ITVX app yet (though we’re told it’s coming to those boxes in April).
We can confirm, however, that the T4 and T4-R will include the ITVX app from Day 1.
EPG Search Is Coming
One feature that’s been sorely missing on the 3 series was global EPG search, something that’s been available on other Freeview boxes.
On the 3 series, you could search for the name of a programme or film, and see results for it on the catch-up apps listings – that is, whether it’s available on BBC iPlayer, All4, etc.
However, it wasn’t possible to search within the regular EPG guide itself – to find out, for example, when a specific show is on and on which over-the-air channel.
This (rather fundamental, I have to say) feature will finally be available on the T4 and T4-R, so the search will finally be global – type in the name of a show, and you’ll see whether it’s available on any free-to-air channels, on your recordings, or on any of the streaming apps.
There’s also some good news for T3 and T3-R users – although this feature was promised a couple of years ago (and never arrived) – it is still in the cards for a future 3-series software update.
No Smartphone App – Yet
One sad piece of news is that an accompanying smartphone app for the 4-series won’t be coming at this point.
That’s something many were hoping for – especially for the ability to set recordings remotely (via the app), or even the ability to stream recordings from the box to your smartphone.
However, we understand there’s certainly still a possibility an app for the T4-R will be developed at a later date.
T4 And T4-R Hardware
In my reviews of the T3 and T3-R, I pointed out how snappy and easy to use they were. Well, that’s going to get even better on the T4 and T4-R, with new, even more powerful processors.
Despite the new features, the new boxes will actually be smaller than their predecessors, with the T4, in particular, being considerably smaller than the T3, so you could easily place it in any room or even take it with you when travelling.
As you can see in the picture, the T4-R will also be getting another long-requested feature – a recording LED indicator. So when the box is recording something from Freeview – a dedicated LED will notify you of that (in addition to the standby/on LED indicator, which is still there as well).
When Are The T4 And T4-R Boxes Coming?
At the moment, the new Freeview boxes from Manhattan are expected to launch around October 2023 (although it was originally July, and then August, but has now been pushed back again).
Keep in mind, there could still be additional last-minute delays due to tests and certifications that are always necessary with new devices.
Meanwhile, Manhattan is promising more exciting news about the 4-series’ features and hardware in the coming weeks – so stay tuned for more.
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