The Manhattan T4 and T4-R, the successors of the widely acclaimed Manhattan T3 and T3-R boxes, are set to redefine the Freeview experience in the UK soon.
Despite the setbacks and delays, these highly anticipated models promise to bring an array of advanced features, enhancing both viewing and usability.
With a new, innovative EPG, global search (finally!), and some future-proofing for Freeview-over-broadband, the T4 Freeview Play box and T4-R Freeview Recorder promise to be a major step forward for Freeview fans.
Amidst the anticipation, the journey to their release has been marked by ongoing delays.
Originally slated for an earlier launch, the T4 and T4-R have seen their release dates pushed back several times – but they’re now set to come in early 2024.
Here’s everything we can reveal about these new boxes at this point.
Manhattan’s Freeview Boxes: The Road So Far
Manhattan, a UK-based firm established in 1992, has been a significant player in the TV receiver market.
Following their initial foray into Freesat boxes in 2010, Manhattan ventured into Freeview boxes with the T1 and later, the T3-R in 2019, along with the T2-R (which did not support Freeview Play) and the T3, which was not a recorder.
The T3-R was a 4K Freeview Play recorder with 500GB/1TB storage space that could 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 were also officially retired.
Therefore, the flagship T3-R was the only model still being manufactured. That has recently ended as well, with the T3-R being discontinued.
The New Freeview Generation: T4 and T4-R
Earlier this year, Manhattan announced the next generation of Freeview boxes – the T4/TR-4 series.
Building on the legacy of their predecessors, the T4 and T4-R are poised to offer improved performance and power, thanks to more robust processors.
A notable aspect is their compact design, especially the T4, which is considerably smaller than the T3, making it more portable and versatile
Originally slated for a July release, the launch of these boxes has been postponed multiple times, with the current expectation set for late January or early February.
This delay can be attributed in part to the need for rigorous testing and certification by broadcasters like the BBC.
Key Features Of Manhattan T4 and T4-R Freeview Boxes
The T4-R (272 mm (W) x 197 mm (D) x 46 mm (H)) is equipped with a quad-core processor for swift responsiveness, Ultra HD (4k) HDR for superior picture quality, and dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11ac).
Designed for energy efficiency, it features ultra-low power consumption and a quick wake-up function.
The T4 model, being a non-recording Freeview Play device, is compact and portable (125 mm (W) x 137 mm (D) x 37 mm (H)), ideal for varied placement options
Both boxes will come with a learning remote, that will be able to control the volume on your TV.
As for pricing, the T4 Freeview Play box will cost £69.99, and the T4-R Freeview Play Recorder will start from £169.99, depending on storage size.
Enhanced Storage and Recording Capabilities
The T4-R offers recording capabilities with three storage options: 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB, translating to 300, 600, and 1,200 hours of recording, respectively.
This model allows users to record two programmes simultaneously while watching a third, a feature that has been retained from the T3-R model
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.
Global EPG Search
Both the T4 and T4-R models will feature a much-awaited global EPG search.
This lets users search for specific shows across the free-to-air channels, recordings, and a range of streaming apps, significantly enhancing the content discovery process.
Furthermore, the EPG will include a new “Genre” view that will help you discover films, TV shows and sports according to your genre preferences.
Along with that, advanced filters will allow for more refined searches, such as filtering for HD content only, programmes with subtitles, etc.
As we mentioned before, there’s also some good news for T3 and T3-R users – although the Global Search was promised a couple of years ago (and never arrived) – it is still in the cards for a future 3-series software update.
Streaming App Support
Both boxes will support all the Freeview Play streaming apps, including BBC iPlayer, Channel 4, My5, UKTV Play (soon to be renamed ‘U’), STV Player, LEGEND, and others.
Of course, the boxes will also support ITVX (which was a sore point since several older Freeview boxes – including the once-popular Humax FVP-5000T, never received ITVX support).
Freeview-over-Broadband and Channel List Management
Both boxes still need an aerial connection for Freeview (though you can use the apps to stream content from the major broadcasters).
However, the T4 and T4-R are equipped to support Freeview-over-broadband technology, a future-proof feature anticipating potential broadcasting changes.
The new models will also support Channel List Management, a Freeview function enabling HD-swapping of channels.
This feature automatically prioritizes HD channels on supported devices, facilitating a seamless transition to streaming channels over broadband if necessary.
This feature is already being used by the BBC, to automatically place its HD channels in the lower numbers of the EPG (Channel 1, Channel 2, etc.).
Next year, Freeview (via the company behind it – Everyone.TV) is planning to launch Freely – its new Freeview-via-broadband service.
Not much is known about the technical aspects of the service thus far, therefore it’s still early to tell if – and when – the T4 and T4-R boxes will support it.
No Smartphone App – For Now
One point of disappointment for users is the absence of a dedicated smartphone app for the 4-series at launch.
Many had hoped for this feature, particularly for the convenience of remotely setting recordings and streaming content directly to their smartphones.
However, there is a glimmer of hope: the development of an app specifically for the T4-R remains a possibility in the future, suggesting that this much-desired functionality may eventually become available.
It has certainly been a long wait for the new T4/T4-R boxes, especially with the inability to buy the older boxes and the repeated delays.
However, at least on paper, it looks like the new boxes will deliver impressive features for those who are still in the Freeview-recording camp (and haven’t moved on completely to streaming).
We’ll wait for the actual launch – and full review – to pass judgement.
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