Manhattan T4 Freeview Play Box Review: Same, But Better

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After a long wait, the Manhattan T4 Freeview Play box is finally here, aiming to upgrade your Freeview viewing experience.

As the successor to the popular T3 model, this compact device offers a premium Freeview interface with integrated streaming capabilities, all packed into a sleek, lightweight design.

However, in a world where most TVs come with built-in Freeview tuners and smart features, the T4 tries to set itself apart with a fast, responsive interface, a revamped TV guide, and features like a 90-minute live pause function.

I’ve been testing the T4 for a couple of weeks, so it’s time to decide whether the box’s enhanced Freeview experience and streaming integration (along with a few issues) are enough to carve out a niche in today’s TV market, and whether it’s the right addition to your home entertainment setup.

Manhattan T4 official 400

Quick Look – Manhattan T4

What is it: A “Freeview Play” box with a slick and snappy interface, that also includes the major UK catch-up streaming apps (but no recording).


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Interface & Usage

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Value for Money

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Rating: 4 out of 5.


  • Fast, responsive and easy-to-use interface
  • 90 Minutes Live Pause
  • Excellent picture quality (but it depends on your reception)
  • EPG with unique filtering and sorting options, and a global search
  • Compact and very lightweight


  • No streaming apps other than the Freeview Play ones
  • Some of the apps are slow
  • Early-day bugs and glitches

Features and Specs

  • Video Quality: 4K (2160p), HDR10 / HLG
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Plus
  • Channels: Over 100 SD and HD Freeview Channels, plus radio stations
  • Apps: BBC iPlayer, ITVX, Channel 4, My5, UKTV Play, Great! Player, Watch Free UK, PBS America, POP Player, BBC Sounds, STV Player, S4C / Clic
  • EPG: 7 days – forward or backwards
  • Recording: No
  • Live Pause: Up to 90 minutes
  • Tech Specs: Quad-core processor, 2 GB DDR4 RAM, 8 GB eMMC on-board storage
  • Connections: HDMI 2.1 and HDCP 1.4/2.3, Optical, Ethernet, USB
  • Internet: Ethernet Port / WiFi 802.11ac (2.4 GHZ and 5GHZ)
  • Dimensions: W125mm X H37mm X D137mm
  • Extra Features: “Learning” Remote can control TV, personal on-demand watchlist, accessibility options such as menu “zooming”


The Manhattan T4 excels with its fast navigation and improved EPG but falls short with sluggish third-party apps and early-day glitches. It’s ideal for those wanting to upgrade their Freeview experience, especially with older Smart TVs, but its appeal may be limited due to the lack of recording capabilities and major streaming services.

Who Is The Manhattan T4 For?

If you’re a Freeview fan, you probably remember the Manhattan T3. Launched in 2019, it was a great Freeview Play box that offered a snappy interface and access to streaming catch-up apps, and was a regular on our Best Freeview Boxes list.

However, the T3 was discontinued a couple of years ago, leaving a gap in Manhattan’s lineup. Now, after several delays, the T4 has arrived to fill those shoes.

The T4 brings several improvements over its predecessor, including a redesigned interface and better search, improved accessibility features, and a more powerful processor.

Manhattan T4 hero
Manhattan T4

But much like the T3 before it, it’s not entirely clear who the T4 is for.

Let’s face it: every TV sold in the UK for well over a decade comes with Freeview built-in. Most modern Smart TVs – not to mention most streaming sticks on the market – already include all the major Freeview Play apps.

So, why would anyone need a standalone box without recording capabilities that essentially does what their TV already can?

One possible answer is that the T4 does offer a significant upgrade over the often clunky and slow interfaces found on many Smart TVs, especially older models.

If you’re stuck with a TV that takes ages to load the EPG or struggles to run iPlayer smoothly, the T4 could be a welcome improvement.

The T4 certainly does a good job for what it sets out to do (barring a few issues we’ll go into later).

Its interface is slick, responsive, and user-friendly. The EPG is well-designed, and the integration of catch-up services is seamless.

Plus, I was impressed with the 90-minute live pause.

However, I can’t help but feel that the audience for such a device is rather niche. It’s a solution in search of a problem, perhaps – especially these days, when Freeview’s long-term future is in question.

Without recording capabilities (unlike its sibling, the T4-R), it’s hard to point to a compelling reason why most people would choose this over using their TV’s built-in Freeview tuner, and a streaming stick for the apps.

That said, if you value a premium Freeview experience, appreciate a well-designed interface, and don’t need recording functionality, the T4 might be the box you’ve been waiting for.

Setting Up The Manhattan T4

While the T4-R is a big and heavy piece of kit, the Manhattan T4 is quite the opposite.

This little box is surprisingly compact and lightweight, even more so than its predecessor, the T3.

At just 125mm wide, 37mm high, and 137mm deep, it’s significantly smaller than both the T3 and T4-R, and only weighs 192g (I’ve owned heavier mobile phones).

Manhattan T4 on T4-R
Manhattan T4 and T4-R

This size makes it quite versatile – you can easily tuck it away in any TV cabinet (but you still need line of sight for the IR remote), or even pop it in your luggage for a holiday if you fancy taking your Freeview experience on the road.

However, there’s a slight downside to its feather-light build. The T4 is so lightweight that heavy cables can actually pull it around. You might find yourself having to secure it in place to prevent it from being dragged off your TV stand by the weight of the HDMI and power cables.

Setting up the T4 is a breeze, much like its bigger sibling.

In the box, you’ll find the device itself, a remote control (with batteries included), a 1.2m HDMI cable that supports resolutions up to 4K/60Hz, a power adapter, and a ‘Quick Start’ guide.

Manhattan T4 in the box

As with most Freeview boxes, the aerial cable is not included, so you’ll need to supply your own.

The back of the T4 houses all the necessary ports: power, Ethernet, USB (for software updates only), HDMI, optical audio, the aerial socket, and a loop-out port. This last one allows you to connect a second Freeview receiver if needed.

Manhattan T4 back ports

You can connect the T4 to the internet either via Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi (802.11ac), which supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. While you can use the T4 without an internet connection, you’ll miss out on many integrated EPG options and the third-party streaming apps.

You can also technically use the T4 without an aerial – and just watch the streaming apps – but there’s little point in buying a Freeview box like the T4 just for the limited number of apps, without integrating over-the-air channels.

The initial setup process is straightforward and should take you no more than five minutes. After connecting the T4 to your TV and the internet, it’ll scan for Freeview channels (assuming you’ve connected an aerial).

As always with Freeview, the number of channels you receive will depend on the reception in your area.

Manhattan T4 channel scan retune

The T4 also asks whether you want to add Freeview’s “Connected” channels during setup. These channels, like Channel Box, Talk TV and others, require both an aerial and a broadband connection to function.

Using The Manhattan T4

When it comes to the user experience, the Manhattan T4 is nearly identical to its sibling, the T4-R, minus the recording features. This means you get the same redesigned interface, improved accessibility options, and the range of features that make both devices stand out.

One of the standout features of the T4 is its redesigned interface, which I found to be a significant improvement over previous models.

The TV Guide (EPG), in particular, sports a sleek design (OK, yes, the colours are nicer) and enhanced functionality.

Manhattan T4 EPG

It now offers three distinct views: the traditional grid layout, a new genre view that categorizes programmes by type (such as movies, sports, or dramas), and a channel view that displays a week’s worth of programming for a single channel.

This flexibility made it much easier for me to find content I was interested in without endless scrolling, especially with printed TV Guides disappearing from our lives.

The global search function is another feature that T3 fans have been waiting for.

It allows you to search across live TV, catch-up services, and on-demand content all at once, which is a real time-saver.

I also appreciated the new filtering options, which let you easily find programmes with subtitles, audio description, or sign language, or display only HD channels, for example.

Manhattan T4 and T4-R filter

For those who need it, the T4 offers enhanced accessibility features, including a quick zoom function that enlarges the entire interface.

One of the T4’s strongest points is its speed – at least when it comes to the native parts of the interface.

I found navigating the TV Guide, using the search function, or browsing the Freeview Play watchlist and recommendations section to be a breeze. These elements are fast and responsive, making for a pleasant user experience that’s a significant step up from many built-in TV interfaces (and from the older T3).

However, things changed somewhat when I started using the streaming apps.

While the native interface is quick and responsive, I noticed that the performance of third-party apps can be hit or miss.

BBC iPlayer, for instance, takes around 5-6 seconds to load – a delay that feels surprisingly long in this day and age. But, once it’s running, it functions properly.

Even more disappointing, however, is the performance of ITVX, which I found so slow it borders on unusable. While content plays fine once you get it started, navigating the app’s interface feels like stepping back in time to a TV from a decade ago.

This discrepancy in performance is particularly noticeable – and problematic – for the T4. Unlike its recording-capable counterpart, the T4 relies more heavily on these streaming apps to justify its existence.

Having said that, ITVX is notoriously slow on some other devices as well (though my Fire TV Max handles it just fine) – nevertheless, it’s a significant drawback for a device meant to enhance your Freeview and streaming experience.

During my testing period, I also encountered several instances where the T4 froze up completely.

Since the box lacks any physical buttons, the only way to resolve these freezes was to unplug the power cable and restart the device.

While I’m optimistic that these issues will be addressed in future software updates, it’s something to be aware of if you’re considering purchasing the T4 in its current state.

On a more positive note, the T4 does offer some useful features that enhance the viewing experience.

The 90-minute live pause function is a standout, allowing you to pause and rewind live TV without needing to record.

Manhattan T4 live pause

The T4 also allows you to set reminders for upcoming programmes directly from the TV guide.

Manhattan T4 reminder set

You can even configure the box to turn itself on automatically and switch to the correct channel when your chosen show is about to start. However, it’s worth noting that there doesn’t seem to be a way to view a list of all your set reminders at the moment – a feature that is available on the T4-R.

Then there’s the “Watchlist” – For shows available on catch-up services, you can stream them immediately or add them to the Freeview Play Watchlist. However, this system has its quirks.

The watchlist is exclusively for streaming programmes and doesn’t include shows broadcast via aerial. This separation can be a bit confusing and feels like a missed opportunity for a more integrated experience.

Lastly, the T4’s remote is convenient (if a bit light and plasticky), and even has a few buttons that I missed on the T4-R’s remote, such as a Settings button.

Manhattan T4 remote

Streaming Apps On The Manhattan T4

The Manhattan T4’s selection of streaming apps is identical to that of the T4-R, and basically every other Freeview Play device.

You’ll find all the major UK catch-up services here, including BBC iPlayer, ITVX, Channel 4, My5, UKTV Play, and several others like Great! Player, Watch Free UK, and BBC Sounds.

While this lineup covers most of the free-to-air content available in the UK, it’s worth noting that the T4 doesn’t include popular subscription-based streaming services like Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Video, or Disney+.

This limitation might be a dealbreaker for some users who are looking for an all-in-one streaming solution.

Interestingly, unlike its predecessor the T3, the T4 currently lacks a YouTube app. Manhattan has stated that they plan to add YouTube support later this year, which would be a welcome addition to the app lineup.

The integration of these apps into the overall user experience is generally smooth, though, as mentioned, performance can be an issue with some of the apps.

It’s also worth noting that the Manhattan T4 currently doesn’t support Freely, the new broadband-based replacement for Freeview that’s being developed by Everyone TV (the company behind Freeview and Freesat).

Freely on a TV

Freely aims to become the future of free-to-watch TV in the UK, offering a more comprehensive streaming experience without the need for an aerial. However, at the moment, Freely is quite limited, only available on a handful of supported TV models.

While there’s potential for the T4 to receive Freely support in the future through a software update, this isn’t guaranteed.

Manhattan T4 near box

Bottom Line – Is The Manhattan T4 For Me?

The Manhattan T4 finds itself in a peculiar position in the modern TV world.

It’s a device that does what it sets out to do quite well – offering a premium Freeview Play experience with a slick interface, quick navigation, and integrated catch-up services. The redesigned EPG, global search function, and accessibility features are all real upgrades over typical built-in TV software.

However, it’s hard to overlook the T4’s limitations. The sluggish performance of some streaming apps and the occasional system freezes are frustrating issues that Manhattan will hopefully address in future updates.

The lack of popular streaming services like Netflix or Prime Video means you can’t use it as an all-in-one streaming device, and the absence of recording capabilities further narrows its appeal.

Ultimately, the T4 is a niche product for a specific audience. If you’re in the market for a standalone Freeview box that offers an upgraded interface and user experience over your TV’s built-in tuner, and you don’t need to record, then the T4 will serve you well.

It’s particularly suited for those with older Smart TVs that have become slow and cumbersome to use – but who still want an aerial-based selection of Freeview channels.

If you know you need this type of standalone Freeview box, then the T4 is likely one of the best options available (and, frankly – one of the only ones left at this point).

For everyone else, it’s worth carefully considering whether its benefits justify adding another box to your TV setup.

Note: The T4 was supplied by the manufacturer for this review. As always, this did not influence my unbiased opinion of the product.

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