Manhattan are back with a new Freesat HD receiver

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.

Stock is available from retailers, including our sponsor, Manhattan SX Freesat HD Satellite TV Box – Satbuyer, as of right now.

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.

Specification:

Feature summary
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
Dolby Audio
Extremely low power consumption with under 0.5W in standby
802.11n Wi-Fi for software updates

Dimensions
Width: 120mm
Height: 26.5mm
Depth: 130mm
Weight: 457g

Power consumption
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
User Guide
Easy-to-use Remote Control
2 AAA batteries





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29 thoughts on “Manhattan are back with a new Freesat HD receiver”

  1. Good to hear that Manhattan is committed to Freesat and that there is now a choice in the market. However the need for a basic single tuner non recording, non catch-up device must be small – especially now that some LG and Samsung TVs now incorporate a Freesat tuner (often not advertised!).

    One bit of bad news regarding Freesat is the recent loss of Channel 4 HD and All 4 from the platform. This, together with the continued lack of HD channel grouping tips the balance in favour of Freeview / Youview, so my Freesat equipment isn’t getting much use at the moment…

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  2. I’d love to know what the non-Freesat mode is like on the device. Does it store a simple list of non-Freesat channels after tuning, or do you have to enter a frequency and scan everytime you use non-Freesat mode.

    And if it does store a long list in non-Freesat mode, can you create a list of favourites from the non-Freesat Channels. Asking for someone who has Asian language channels as a priority…

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  3. Jitendar:
    I’d love to know what the non-Freesat mode is like on the device. Does it store a simple list of non-Freesat channels after tuning, or do you have to enter a frequency and scan everytime you use non-Freesat mode.

    And if it does store a long list in non-Freesat mode, can you create a list of favourites from the non-Freesat Channels. Asking for someone who has Asian language channels as a priority…

    I would like to know this as well. It seems a very good price for the box, but I tend to use the non-freesat mode more than the main one. Any help with this is appreciated.

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  4. Hi, Alex from Manhattan here. The SX requires frequency, symbol rate and polarisation to be entered and will then scan and tune in any non-encrypted channels to the 5000-range. These channels do not show in the Guide but their channel numbers can be entered to go straight to them. They can also be added to the favourites list so they can be quickly browsed to via the Channel Banner. Due to Freesat restrictions, you can’t go up or down directly from a Freesat channel to a non-freesat channel (e.g. Pressing DOWN from 101 always goes to the last Freesat channel at 999).

    All in all, it’s not going to compete with a dedicated FTA receiver but it’s great for adding channels like Channel 4 HD.

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  5. Thanks for the tip – just added 4HD to my Freesat box. Didn’t realise that it was transmitted in the clear! It’s not an ideal solution (especially on a Humax which involves multiple button presses th select non Freesat mode) and recording is not possible, but it’s better than nothing.

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  6. Alex:
    Hi, Alex from Manhattan here. The SX requires frequency…

    Thank you very much for this information. It’s much appreciated.

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  7. Hi Alex, if you are still monitoring the comments. It would be great if Manhattan can do a Freesat STB similar to the SX model, but add the option of recording via USB port. Maybe call it the SX-R?

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  8. Got this box for the bedroom. Really pleased with it. Two problems I found with it was the PIG (mini tv) taking forever to show but that appears to have been resolved in an upcoming software update, the other is if you have automatic updates switched on the box wakes up in the middle of night but doesn’t switch itself off but remains on. No big deal but hopefully this will be resolved in a future update also!!

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  9. Hi Zubeir,

    We would love to add USB recording but Freesat would need to agree and there are issues that would need to be considered/overcome. The USB port is only 0.5a and some USB hard disks need more than that. USB compatibility can be a nightmare. The hardware may struggle and the remote control has no PVR buttons!

    Best,

    Alex

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  10. Hi upthePOSH, glad you like it. Hopefully the PIG update will be ready next week. Regarding the box remaining on, that definitely shouldn’t be happening. Can you tell me the version number in the Help / System Info / About screen?

    Also, can you tell me in Picture & Sound what the Audio Output is set to? Someone found it set to Surround by default which is strange as it should be Auto.

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  11. All versions are on 1.00 and audio output is set to auto. Since I’ve turned off automatic updates the box hasn’t done it since.

    Alex:
    Hi upthePOSH, glad you like it. Hopefully the PIG update will be ready next week. Regarding the box remaining on, that definitely shouldn’t be happening. Can you tell me the version number in the Help / System Info / About screen?

    Also, can you tell me in Picture & Sound what the Audio Output is set to? Someone found it set to Surround by default which is strange as it should be Auto.

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  12. Conor Mcdermott:
    What about a freesat 4k box

    Last autumn freesat issued, with some fanfare, the spec for their 4K STB to which the manufacturers must adhere. Hopefully at least one manufacturer will think it is worth developing a 4K STB for the size of market that is available.

    When and if they come to market you’ll need to change the LNB to the same type as used by Sky Q to get the full benefit of the multiple tuners.

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  13. Just to add i put auto updates on to test it last night and the box switched on at 5am.

    upthePOSH:
    All versions are on 1.00 and audio output is set to auto. Since I’ve turned off automatic updates the box hasn’t done it since.

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  14. In my previous reply to the 4K STB question I said:

    Paul. The other one.:
    When and if they come to market you’ll need to change the LNB to the same type as used by Sky Q to get the full benefit of the multiple tuners.

    This is not true. The LNB will need to be changed for a Sky Q type for the freesat 4K box to work *at all*. This page explains the difference between the two types of LNB and how the way they work means that an old style Universal LNB will not work with a freesat 4K box.

    https://tinyurl.com/yc5bavuw

    Paul.

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  15. Zubeir:
    Hi Alex, if you are still monitoring the comments. It would be great if Manhattan can do a Freesat STB similar to the SX model, but add the option of recording via USB port. Maybe call it the SX-R?

    Sorry Alex, I meant Manhattan making another model of a Freesat box with recording options etc.

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  16. Just to add an opinion on the “legacy” AV cable. One usage scenario for a small satellite receiver is for receiving radio. For those of us who Freesat was meant for, remember, those who cannot receive TV and radio terrestrial signals! I’ve found it very very useful to have an FTA generic sat receiver (one handily with a nice VFD alphanumeric display) set up with a favourites list of radio only, not plugged into a TV but instead to my speakers via a separate audio-out. This receiver is cheap and small enough to dedicate to a sort of DAB radio function. Pity it doesn’t have an alpha display to show what station you’re on, but I do appreciate the fact that there is a separate audio out and is certainly not “legacy” as far as I’m concerned.

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  17. PS. Sorry, need to add something more! I mentioned the VFD display – I do find it a pity that Freesat receivers and recorders have now dropped the alpha display, it’s very useful. Also, I wish Freesat receivers would support Sat>IP. again, very sueful for those of us who Freedat was intended for, who don’t have other forms of reception and therefore need satellite cable trailing everywhere. Compatibility with single cable distribution is fine, but Sat>IP is out there now and has been for many years and doesn’t require coax cable to be laid to each room. Have been very disappointed with Humax and Freesat so far, Humax have this technology already and have Sat>IP clients and recorders for whole house use and central server recording, but Freesat have failed to bring this to the UK.

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  18. Hi Zubeir, we are about to release a Freeview HD Recorder and if Freesat are interested in a Freesat version we’d be happy to make it happen! But at the moment we’re just focussed on getting the models we have in development out.

    Hi upthePOSH, I’ve checked and currently the system wakes up 10 mins before its scheduled time (which is randomised per receiver after 1am to avoid hitting the server all at the same time). At the scheduled time it then takes about 3 mins to do its checks and go back to deep standby. The LED does currently change from red to blue and back again but we are changing this in future because this should all go on without bringing attention it.

    Hi Chris, I sympathise but with so many channels and a rich-onscreen UI we decided it a front panel display is not worth it. I totally see how it’s great for making the box into a great radio device though!

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  19. Buyer beware!
    Just noticed that some sellers on a popular consumer website are advertising this machine for way in excess of the £49.95 list price. Perhaps Manhattan has underpriced it!
    Also wonder if there will be a Bush branded version as there was with the Plaza HDS2?

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  20. lawrence:
    Buyer beware!
    Just noticed that some sellers on a popular consumer website are advertising this machine for way in excess of the £49.95 list price. Perhaps Manhattan has underpriced it!
    Also wonder if there will be a Bush branded version as there was with the Plaza HDS2?

    It is a “recommended retail price”, not a “list price”, so prices will fluctuate. Unfortunately from a independent retailer perspective, the ‘trade’ price doesn’t allow the opportunity to achieve the rrp; only the major retailers can manage this through their buying power.

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  21. It’s great to have a basic box back on the market, for the many customers that don’t have internet or have no interest in on demand stuff.
    I haven’t seen any mention here but I’m sure I saw a screen option on this model which was good to finally see on a Freesat box.

    Mark

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