Freesat introduced its smart tv platform in 2013, which was designed to be a competitor to smart TV platforms like Youview and Tivo (Virgin Media)
The main home screen, appears when you first turn on the reciever,
Now & Next bar, you can skim through the channels by using the Up & Down buttons
Pressing the i button bring up information about the current program, you can also view information for programs on other channels and future programs
The main TV guide, shows what’s currently on. Like most other internet connected EPG’s you can scroll backwards through the guide, which will then take you to an on demand link for the program.
A list of genres for certain channels, accesssed by pressing the List button
Where have all the music channels gone? Seems you need to manually tune them in these days
Freetime showcase is mean to highlight and advertise upcoming programmes of interest. Similar to how TV guide magazines showcase programs of interest
This model supports both Ethernet and Wifi, however a separate USB dongle is required for WiFi functionality.
An external hard drive can be connected via USB to enable recording functionality, if you have a Freesat box that does not have an internal disk drive. This allows you to record and rewind TV, but with only one tuner you are limited to just one program/channel at a time.
TV portal is still accessible in this mode.
Personally if you wish to manually tune on channels without any BS restrictions I would advise just to get a standalone FTA receiver, or get a TV with one built in.
Settings – Non-Freesat
Non-Freesat mode can be used to add channels that are not part of the Freesat EPG, but are still FTA. This won’t work with encrypted Sky channels, rather channels that are testing or misc ITV regions
A list of all Astra 28.2E transponders that can be selected, save having to enter the parameters manually
A good selection of both Free and subscription on demand services. Most of the major catchup service are present, most of them anyway. There are some omissions though like Britbox, Amazon Prime, StarzPlay, Nowtv and Channel 4
You can also play media files from an external USB hard disk or a DLNA server using the built in media player
Humax TV Portal
Humax TV Portal allows you to access interactive applications hosted by Humax, originally supported on their Freeview HD receivers.
Recordings & DLNA
On this model, an external USB Hard disk drive can be connected to the Freesat box, to allow the use of recording. The Freesat software will automatically format the box and prepare it for storage.
Alternatively you can also stream recoding from another Freesat box, or any box that allows DLNA streaming. Some Panasonic TV sets allow this.
You can select the recording, or file to play. And can fast forward and rewind at will, depending on the network conditions, ethernet is recommended.
Alternatively you can stream from a network attached storage device.
Finally there is a section to provide help and support, which takes you to instructions and articles on how to use the various Freesat services.
BT’s main TV service, basically Freeview with a few subscription channels and streaming services built in. You have the option to subscribe to BT’s entertainment packages (which are currently being phased out), BT Sport package, or NOWtv packages which feature Sky entertainment, sports and movie channels.
Whilst this was meant to complete with subscription services from Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk, it has suffered due to its reliance on using broadband to stream the subscription channels.
BT Youview had replaced BT Vision, which was also based on Freeview with on demand being delivered using the customers broadband connection, the difference being Vision featuring only on demand content, Youview offers streaming the actual channels.
The interface is quite different compared to what Sky or Virgin use with this reliance of pictures/tiles to browse through different programs. All which rely on an internet connection.
The MyTV section shows recordings made, and programes on your watch list. Currently Nowtv supports this, programs you bookmark to watch later will then appear here.
Bad things? Well you cant directly access the apps or recording through the remote, you have to highlight the banner and press left, which I found clunky. They should but colour button shortcuts to access these areas. It would be far easier if you could press the green button to go directly to the apps section, and the yellow button to go directly to recordings then these buttons are unused on the banner. The search option is also redundant since there is a dedicated button on the remote to access search.
It’s worth mentioning also that the remote does not have a dedicated apps or recordings button, so in order to access them you have to press the Home button to call up the banner, then press Right to select MyTV.
The main TV guide interface. The guide is presented using a grid like design which shows programmes broadcast today. You can also navigate to programs broadcast in the future which will give you the option to record or set a series link. The guide can also give recommendation’s on that to watch next and what’s being broadcast now.
Series links can also be set, but unlike Tivo they are not as intelligent. You cannot configure them to exclude certain broadcasts such as reruns, or to record certain seasons. The Youview box will just blindly record whatever is scheduled on that channel. It does ignore repeated episodes broadcast on +1 channels.
The NOWtv channels appear here, along with the regular BT channels if you are on one of their classic entertainment packages. These channels are streamed through the IP connection. the selection offered by NOWtv is quite limited compared to the classic TV packages that BT had provided previously, and rumours suggest they plan to adopt only the NOWtv packages, meaning that other channel packages will be discontinued. This wouldn’t be so bad if NOWtv actually offered channels that BT previously offered.
BT’s main store for its TV programs where they can be purchased. Some stuff may be bundle into the existing subscription like the AMC programs. This requires an active BT broadband subscription and connection.
A nice looking service let down by its horrible search interface. Seriously why not just display a QWERTY keyboard on screen? Also you cannot use the keypad on the remote to type in search items, Why?
Catchup services for CBS’s free view channels, and also include Horror channel also
Britbox was a recent addition to the service an is a collection of older programs previously broadcast by BBC and ITV (similar to the UKTV channels of the past) with promise of new original content.
Whilst the interface is nice, the on screen keyboard used in the search is terrible
Netflix is fully supported, and it even supports the use of a USB keyboard for its search! Probably the only service on here to actually support that.
The main attraction to BT’s Youview, all of the Sky Sports/Movies and entertainment on demand is delivered through here. sadly it’s not a good experience with it being slow to respond for that appears to be a very basic interface. The search keyboard is OK but you still cannot use a USB keyboard, meaning you must use the on screen keyboard, you also cannot use the number keys on the remote to enter letters.
Thankfully you can watch and record the NowTV channels in the actual BT TV guide so you are not completely reliant on the app.
Amazon Prime Video
Works well, but we are still unable to use a USB keyboard in order to search.
Provides access to all of itv’s shows and has a god awful search keyboard where all the letters are on a single row and no USB keyboard support either.
Channels 4’s on demand service (that mysteriously disappeared off Freesat…)
Misc on Demand
Whilst Youview support’s MHEG5 text services, certain streaming extensions are unsupported, instead these services must be accessed via the Youview apps section
Help & Support
Ideal as a smart TV platform, as all the popular apps are supported here, this includes all the common FTV platforms (Itv Hub & BBC iPlayer) and the subscription services
Interface is OK, but colour buttons are underutilised, and common features are hidden under menus (like MyTV/Recordings).
Poor support for keyboards for entering text, although Youview supports USB keyboard for control and navigation, this cannot be used to enter text for on demand apps with the exception of Netflix.
Even though the remote number pad has alphabet letters on, this can only be used for the Youview search function, you cannot enter text for the catch up apps using the remote, unless you use the directional pad. This makes it time consuming to enter text.
No support for external hard drives
Unable to stream recordings to other Youview boxes, or to smart TV’s running the Youview app.
Lack of native Wi-Fi support, Ethernet or power-line over Ethernet is the only way to go.
Higher capacity storage options, currently only 500GB to 1TB are available, the latter only for the 4K model
More OTT streaming services like PlutoTV or Plex Live TV, these can add further streaming channels
More subscription channels, although BT seem to be phasing their classic entertainment packages in favour of only NOWtv packages. AMC seems to remain.
Some subscription services are missing like Disney+ and Discovery
More consistency with the on demand user interfaces