Updated: Manhattan Launch Freesat SD Receiver

Manhattan Plaza DS-100 Freesat Digital Box

Updated 26-Nov-10

Manhattan, a leading manufacturer of UK terrestrial and satellite receivers are due to launch a new Freesat SD box to rival the existing Harvard Group units, branded as Bush, Goodmans and Grundig.

The Manhattan Plaza DS-100 is believed to be launching to offer an alternative choice to consumers looking for a standard-definition receiver, rather than the more commonly purchased high-definition units available on the Freesat platform.

We suspect that the idea behind the launch is to take advantage of failings in the existing Harvard boxes which suffer from lack of connections on the back, as well as reliability and availability issues. Manhattan may have missed the opportunity to capitalise in the early days of Freesat, but should still see a good potential market from those not wishing to follow the HD craze.

This unit is due for launch mid-December through exclusive retailers initially, at a recommended retail price of £50; so on a par with the alternatives, but with the advantage of two scart connections so you can connect both to your television and a DVD/HDD/VIDEO recorder if you wish (something Harvard removed from their range some time ago to save costs!).

35 thoughts on “Updated: Manhattan Launch Freesat SD Receiver”

  1. Applause to Manhattan! The Emperor (HDTV) indeed has no clothes! They have recognised the significant number of viewers who only want good quality standard definition television and this will help to address that market, hopefully with receivers the right side of 50 quid too!

  2. I have noticed that programmes recorded for HD transmission look better on my 32″ SD TV than native SD programmes. If Manhattan have learnt the lessons of the past two years and produced an STB optimising SD reception – for the right price – they should be on to a winner.

  3. It’s good to see another manufacturer getting on board with Freesat branded receivers. There should be the Freesat slingbox receiver launching fairly soon I guess too?

  4. Will there be a proper “timer” mode to start the boxes from standby for timeshift recordings? I’m just about fed up with the current trend to “mark a program on the EPG and if the box is switched on it’ll put up an obnoxious screen to remind you (and possibly switch to the program) JUST when the programme is starting” mode. I just want to be able to enter date/start time/stop time/channel in a list and have the box wake uo then and output to SCART without bloody silly messages.

    It seems that the designers/developers of this stuff don’t have a clue about how owners may want to use their boxes. Its pretty common across the Freeview and Freesat stuff I’ve encountered over the past couple of years.

    Is there any current kit available that allows this type of “programming”? Most sales info just harps on about the EPG…..

  5. I can’t understand who buys SD boxes, as every tv for the last few years are HD ready, and the cost of a new LCD TV is only a third of what it cost for the same size CRT tv 5 years ago, To me its like buying an old VCR, why would you do that, when for a few more quid, a HD box for £75.00 which will not become obsolete when you buy a new tv in the future.

  6. There will always be those on a budget that don’t envisage wanting HD now or in the future. Don’t forget also that quite a lot of SD boxes are used in additional rooms, rather than the main room, of which many no doubt relegate their older CRT televisions to those rooms so the SD box is a good choice. The demand for SD boxes remains high.

  7. It’s not that long ago that I parted with my Manhattan 500ST FTA receiver and frankly I wish I had held on to it. Excellent build with DiSEqC 1.i. 1.2 USALS and an onboard 36 volt positioner. It was one of the last boxes to include the latter. So we have a receiver from a manufacturer with pedigree Designed in the UK marketed by Eurosat and Korean built. I hoping this is just a start in offerings from them on the “Freesat platform. Perhaps this may see Technomate follow them.

  8. #6 – Oyodi

    To appreciate HD TV needs HD eyes and a biggish screen. Those who have invested in the equipment seem less than satisfied with the number of channels on offer and there has been a lot of bitching about bit rates, bandwidth and stuff.

    If anyone were to visit this site and look for guidance as to whether to buy SD or HD, they would gain a poor impression about the present state of HD. A look at the prices of kit to do the job properly (including twin feeds from the LNB to drive a PVR properly) might convince them to wait a while. Meantime, STBs like the Manhattan provide a good route into a good service.

    Out of interest, yesterday I bought a Goodmans Freeview-HD box in Comet for £50. I hooked it up to an aerial in my loft which points towards a nearby relay which has completed DSO. It found four HD channels, all of which carry subtitles – this is more channels than Freesat and better subtitling coverage.

  9. Most of us know know there are 4HD channels on Freeview but can you get STV HD and Luxury Life HD as well as iPlayer on it ? Since i’m not deaf subtitling is irrelevant to me.. There are some channels that are not on Freesat but there are a lot of channels on Freesat that are not on Freeview.
    Best solution is to have both.

  10. #10 – Richard Crichton

    I agree with your final point that it’s best to have both. I have and I’m a great fan of Freesat. Yes, my Freeview set-up gets STV-HD. I believe Luxury Life is the re-launched LuxeTV – which was a shopping channel of little interest to people looking for freebies. I have access to iPlayer on my PCs and my Freesat box, but I never use it.

    Loss of hearing acuity comes as part of old age. It seems as though youngsters these days expose themselves to noise levels guaranteed to damage their hearing (they call it music) so they are likely to encounter the problem younger than my generation did. Subtitles are a switchable option which make TV intelligible to people of all ages who have trouble with the spoken word. Don’t knock it!

    My thoughts were offered in the context of Oyodi’s comment that he could not understand why anyone would buy a Freesat SD box. Not all of us want to count blades of grass during boring football matches, or spot when Alonso should change gear before he does. $ky have just published figures showing that, of their ten million subscribers, only a third have taken up HD. That is a much bigger and more representative sample than the people who post on this site. It all comes down to whether you watch the programme or the technology behind it.

  11. @#6 Unfortunately this forum does not really reflect the views of the average TV viewer who is not fanatical about television but watches TV for a few selected programmes i.e. the news, soap operas etc. All the overwhelming majority of viewers want is a decent picture and just as importantly decent content. Therefore Standard Definition is just the ticket. There are currently hundreds of channels available on satellite 98% of which are absolute rubbish the fact that some of them are in HD doesn’t make the programmes any better. Coupled with that I have been told that as many as 20% of the population cannot differentiate between HD and SD due to various eye problems they have so they are being sold a pup. I’ve always thought HD was a con to shift TV sets and sell Sky packages – I’m yet to be convinced otherwise.

  12. Spanners, you have a good point. I have a very good 50 inch Pioneer TV, but the distance we sit from it means that the differance between HD and SD is more often than not, Not Noticed.
    Blu Ray is mostly no better than DVD unless you get closer or pause the picture.
    The surround sound on HD chanels is appreciated though. I am lucky enough to have a Meridian surround sound system that works wonder with two chanel sound via Dolby Pro logic or Trifield etc.
    The Result is, I go for content first. HD is a bonus but not a dealbreaker.
    Most people just turn the TV on and listen through the TV speakers. They do not know what they are missing and are happy in their ignorance.
    Thoughts, Chris 🙂

  13. For me HD does look better on both my Panasonic Freesat TV’s (37″ LCD in the lounge and 32″ LCD in the bedroom) at a viewing distance of about 3.5mtrs. I think the issues around not seeing any difference also come from upscaled SD on HD channels, for which there’s still a lot of. I agree that to the untrained eye upscaled SD looks identical to standard SD video and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the respondents in various polls conducted had upscaled viewing in mind when they said they couldn’t see the difference. Sky’s HD marketing is very misleading in this respect as they’d have you think everything they transmit is HD, this is not the case, far from it at present!!

    The BBC need to tighten up their production contractors so there’s not as much camera blur going on as I’ve recently seen a fair few programmes in HD which don’t look defined enough as the camera operators are not using the equipment properly resulting in excessive non-focus on some shots.

  14. If I’m been totally honest eventhough extra HD channels are welcomed I am pretty disapointed with so called HD on BBC1 hd since launce.. Programmes on this channel which are not hd seem to be of worse quality than upscaled programming on the ITV Hd channel. Are they up scaling anything or just showing them in standard sd on hd channel.. They should do the same as itv and knock the hd banner off when up scaling or when no hd programmes are being shown.

    I’m not too bothered like so many other viewers about HD. But when hd is available I do prefer to watch it . On my panasonic there is a significant difference. It’s just a shame no HD channel has yet enough content to show 24/7 high quality programming.

  15. @13 Chrislayeruk
    Blu-ray looks much better than DVD when projected by DLP or LCD projectors onto a 86″ or larger screen. However it is the much improved sound quality that really differentiates Blu-ray from DVD in my opinion.

    @ Neil
    And on my Hitachi 42″ plasma. I agree BBC 1 HD looks pretty SD except when transmitting native HD however it is the programmes content that really matter to me not the resolution it is transmitted at.

  16. What a fascinating thread this has become. There is one point which I have not seen mentioned when discussing whether viewers can see an improvement when watching HD. If an STB is used to provide the signal to the TV, it MUST be connected by HDMI. Viewers who connect by SCART, for example, will only get an SD picture. This is not, of course, an issue when an integrated HD television is used.

    There is also the matter of scaling. every LCD and plasma TV will display pictures at the native resolution of the screen. They have to – it is the way these things are built to work. The electronics built into the display to do the scaling can vary enormously (and it is not necessarily linked to the price of the set). My 32″ LCD is capable of 720p. If I supply it with a 1080i signal from an STB, the set will downscale to 720. If I give it 576i from the aerial, it will upscale it to 720. If you consider the scaling carried out by the broadcaster, the STB and the set, it’s a wonder the image ends up looking as good as it does.

    #14 – Neil Could the picture degradation which you describe be due to the compression/decompression algorithms in use? Compression works best on fairly static objects, as LuxeTV showed. When you apply it to football or MotoGP, compression artefacts show up. HDTV is still evolving and it will be some years before all links in the chain are delivering their HD best. Until then, the quality of our viewing will be determined by the weakest link in the chain

  17. 16/17 – Yep, I reckon it’s a combination of poor camera focus and bitrates. In fairness to the BBC, when ITV1HD launched their upscaled SD looked much better as ITV1 (SD) pictures were poor, hence why they upped the bitrates earlier on in the year. BBC1 was already on the whole using 4.2MB CBR which in terms of PQ was much better than ITV and I think it’s this reason why their upscaled HD doesn’t look too dissimilar to their SD pictures. BBC1HD with SD upscaled does have ‘the edge’ on the SD equivalent though it’s just to the average punter it’s less easy to notice!

  18. One other point about these SD boxes is that they only pick up DVB-S. If every box sold was DVB-S2-capable then you could fit more channels (including SD) into the limited space available.

  19. It looks like a good buy at £39.95 delivered. It’s got to be a better bet than a Bush!

    moderator – eBay link removed

  20. Note that they don’t have them in stock though; the delivery shows 11-12 working days. Price indication is good though, but they do tend to charge over the odds, so sure others will be selling cheaper.

  21. #19 – jmk

    Emma recently suggested that bandwidth was not the reason that channels chose not to join Freesat. There might be a bottleneck on Astra 2D at the moment, but SES can solve that problem when they are good and ready. There seems to be plenty of capacity on the broad-beam birds in that cluster.

    As has been said so many times in this forum, channels will pay their 30 grand a year to join the EPG when they can afford it and when they think they will get a return on their investment.

  22. we need more hd channels now, i love my humax hdr i saved loads off money by cancel sky ,,mind you we just got hd now we been pushed by 3d rubbish we cant win

  23. #20 Richard

    Looking at the description it does appear that the Manhattan box only offers an additional scart connection over the Harvard box. Does the box give you access to non Freesat channels? There is no indication in the description. No mention of audio, USB or internet connectivity either.

    As the Bush box is going for £35 the Manhattan box will need to be very keenly priced. I am surprised they did not offer an HD box.

  24. @Kevin Ver1

    The Freesat standard spec must allow for a non-freesat mode, so it should be there. Not sure on the USB facility, but suspect that won’t be an option. Should have an Ethernet connection, but will confirm as soon as possible; the unit hasn’t yet been released.

  25. Hi Admin,

    According to freesat a ethernet connection is no longer part of SD freesat spec, Very early havard group boxes had the connection but it was never enabled and there was much back peddling about it not being part of SD freesat spec !
    Of couse it would be a most welcome addition if the connection was present & enabled, freesat did say they wanted boxes with different features , while on that subject is there any news of the echostar freesat slingbox ?
    I spoke to the importer / distributer yesterday & they told me they were not expecting stock of tha Manhattan until 16th December.

    Mark Aberfan Aerials

  26. Yes, we were referring to the non-freesat mode being part of the original Freesat spec, not the Ethernet. All will be clear this coming week hopefully, but stock is expected before mid December.

  27. #20 – Richard it looks like they’ve been reading this thread and noticed the interest as the price is now £49.95!

  28. Unit has:

    Automatic/Manual channel search.

    1xlnb in
    2xScart sockets

    Input freq: 950-2150mhz

    W: 258mm
    D: 175mm
    H: 44mm

    Metal case withconcealed front panel buttons.

  29. @ Spanners #28

    The Manhattan box is only SD but if it sells for £49.95 it will not seem to be that attractive. I happened to be in B&Q who were selling a satellite kit including an HD box and 60 cm dish for just under £80. The only downside being the box is not Freesat.

  30. Hi

    Has anyone managed to get their hands on one of these beauties yet ?

    Mark Aberfan Aerials

  31. Hi admin,

    Thats what i was told by the importer / distributor (see post 26) but I was hoping after reading your reply I had been misinformed !
    It dont look like i will get to fit many before christmas then, looks like its back to argos for some bush boxes for my sd customers. Btw its bad situation for the trade when boxes are cheaper in argos than at wholesaler !

    Mark Aberfan Aerials

  32. As an official supporter of joinfreesat, we just wanted to let you know that we now have the Manhattan DS-100 in stock for £49.99 + delivery. We are one of, if not the only retailer with stock this side of the new year, but stock is limited, so don’t delay. This unit will make a perfect receiver for additional bedrooms, motorhomes or even for your living room.

    Buy the Manhattan DS-100 at Satbuyer

Comments are closed.