After 18 months away, Manhattan are finally back with their latest proposition, the Manhattan SX Freesat HD receiver. Whilst not in direct competition with Humax (the sole manufacturer of Freesat products in recent times), it is certainly nice to have an alternative option; even better when targeted at a much lower price range to satisfy the demand of those on a budget, or simply not needing all the bells and whistles. The rrp is £49.95 and is available now.
One thing I will say is it is nice to see a receiver that doesn’t take up a heap of space under the television, the bulky boxes are a thing of the past and measuring just 120mm x 130mm x 26.5mm, this device is certainly small; and light at 457 grams! I’d compare it to the size of a Sky Now TV box, or Apple TV box. Even better, and one of the first things I did on setting up, was test how decent the infrared signal was from remote to receiver, and it is good, doesn’t have to be direct, which means mounting the box in some inventive way to hide it further is entirely possible.
Not that you’d have to hide the box of course, the case itself is stealthy in black, vented, with a Manhattan logo on top and a red/blue light on the front; it is inoffensive and subtle, as it should be. Manhattan are not looking to make a statement here, just provide a simple, easy to use receiver to access the 200+ channels on Freesat.
The back of the box is plain too, with just power, HDMI, Ethernet and single tuner satellite inputs. Wifi is available too (for updates only). A USB port is included on the side (for updates only). The only obscure inclusion, harking back to the days of standard-definition, is an analogue AV port, complete with included Scart converter and Red, White and Yellow cable; at least with this, Manhattan have covered off all household requirements. The contents also include a HDMI cable, Power plug (external power), Scart as mentioned (called “Analogue AV Kit” by Manhattan), Remote control, 2 x AAA batteries and a few pieces of paper with stuff on them which I’d normally just ignore, but there are some important points to mention.
The paperwork includes the usual ‘important information’ booklet covering standard safety etc. Also included is a handy ‘user guide’, although basic and you shouldn’t really need it to get started, the setup process is very simple; just follow the on-screen instructions. The final piece of paper and most important is a registration card which providing you register via Manhattan’s website within 30 days of purchase, gives you a free two year warranty, rather than the standard one year. Nice!
So, putting all that aside, what is it like to use? Well, as mentioned, the initial setup is simple, just connect to the satellite, connect to the Internet via Ethernet or Wifi (optional but they recommend – for updates etc), enter your UK postcode (if abroad, just use any UK postcode to define the regional channels), system check the signal, scan for channels, set a PIN and away you go. Within a minute or two you’ll be greeted with the live channels, of which both the picture and sound quality is excellent.
Manhattan have refreshed the UI (user interface) with this generation of Freesat HD receiver, and I must say, it is a lot quicker than before. The TV guide listings appear immediately; going beyond 4 days the system fetches the rest of the data but only if it hasn’t already collected it during channel viewing. A great additional feature is the programme info screen where you can browse repeats and other episodes in a series. The UI itself is very easy to understand and the design and text is clear. There is also an mini-screen provided (PIG) so you don’t miss anything whilst navigating the TV guide, we approve!
Whilst the remote control is possibly the cheapest feeling part of the setup, with less than tactile buttons, spongy to the touch and of need of a firm press, there are a few options that you might find useful. These include a ‘guide’ button on the remote taking you directly to the TV listings with a single press, plus ‘swap’ to switch to the last channel viewed. There is an ‘i’ button giving you information on what you are watching, and the ‘ok’ button displays brief information in the bottom banner. You also have ‘AD’ for audio description on/off and ‘sub’ for subtitles on/off, so no need to dig within the menu each time you want to turn on/off.
Setting your own list of favourite channels couldn’t be easier, just pick which ones you like and save. There are already predefined categories including HD, Entertainment, News etc too. It would have been nice to have the ability to access any given category with one press similar to the ‘GUIDE’ button; allowing customisation of the coloured buttons on the remote, but as it stands, you can access them by pressing OK to display the Channel Banner and you should see the yellow favourites hint on its top left. Each press of the yellow button will cycle through your favourites. Alternatively, press the yellow button to change lists in the Guide.
The ‘Settings’ menu is limited to just a few minor changes, such as picture format, PIN number, opt in/out of passing data to Freesat and software updates (carried out over the Internet). The device doesn’t include features such as on-demand, roll-back TV guide or external hard drive recording, it is a bare bones viewer, reflected by the price.
All in all, for a retail price of £49.95, this is a great value unit, and whilst it might not be as polished as Humax’s single tuner HD receiver, it is significantly more affordable for marginally less quality and performance. If you are looking to buy a no frills receiver that gives you access to all the 200+ Freesat standard and high-definition channels, with a straight forward user interface, then you cannot go wrong with the Manhattan SX Freesat HD Receiver.
You can buy the Manhattan SX from major and independent retailers now. The best/most consistent price we’ve found has been from Amazon.
Disclaimer – Manhattan kindly supplied this receiver to us for review. No exchange of money has taken place and the above review is solely ours, with no editing or censorship.
Notes – I used a beta release of the upcoming update for the SX for this review. The current production software has a PIG (mini TV) but as soon as you enter the Guide the PIG is replaced with a message explaining that the box is fetching the Guide data. Only after all the Guide data is fetched is the video displayed. This can take between 90 seconds and 5 minutes and is due to how Freesat works and the limitations of a device with a single tuner. To improve things, the new software collects the first 4 days of the Guide during boot. This makes the boot take about 45 seconds instead of 25, but means that when you enter the Guide the PIG continues to show video as the data does not need to be fetched. Only if you navigate to a day where the data has not yet been collected will the PIG stop displaying the video whilst the data is collected. There is a setting in the Tuning section of settings called ‘Fetch Guide at Startup’ that can be turned off if a quicker boot is prepared. Manhattan will be issuing the update soon as an over-the-air update.
Flexible Programme Guide displays up to 8 days ahead with extended programme information
Filter the channel list by genres including Drama, Entertainment, Movies, Children’s TV or even your own favourites
Browse what’s on Now & Next while watching full-screen TV
Set reminders for programmes with one tap. Enable the AutoTune setting and your SX will turn on automatically
Last channel recall
PIN protect channels
Audio Description & Subtitles
Interactive TV & Digital Text
HDMI supporting resolutions up to 1080p
Extremely low power consumption with under 0.5W in standby
802.11n Wi-Fi for software updates
Active (no USB device): Under 13W
Active (with USB device): Under 18W
Standby: Under 0.5W
In the box
1.2m HDMI cable
Analogue AV Kit to connect with SCART or RCAs
Easy-to-use Remote Control
2 AAA batteries