BT TV Box Pro review
We tend not to expect much when it comes to set-top boxes from all-in-one TV and broadband providers. But BT has always been among the greats when it comes to its BT TV set-top boxes, thanks to the inclusion of the excellent time-traveling YouView interface.
The new BT TV Box Pro is a sleek, high-performance set-top box with excellent search functionality, smart recommendation systems and premium cinematic features like 4K HDR visuals and Dolby Atmos sound.
Wi-Fi enabled, with four tuners that allow you to record three shows at once while watching another, the BT TV Box Pro’s 1TB storage space is good for keeping around 600 hours of recordings (standard definition) depending on their resolution quality.
With access to premium TV channels like Sky and with BT’s sizable sports offering in the form of BT Sport Ultimate, you’ll be hard pressed to find something you can not watch on the BT TV Box Pro – especially considering that major internet TV providers like Netflix and Amazon are integrated. Even better, a universal search option lets you find any show or movie you’re looking for from one centralized location, allowing you to search through all providers at once rather than having to dive into and out of each individual application.
Fast, stable and with a sleek industrial design you won’t have to hide, the BT TV Box Pro is a top option for BT customers looking to expand their TV viewing options.
Price and availability
The BT TV Box Pro is being sold on a 24 month contract through BT. Activation fee of £20 is required, plus postage of £9.99. These fees aside, there is no upfront cost for the box itself, with the hardware being subsidized by the monthly fee. They vary depending on the extent of the package you sign up for, with an entry package starting at £12 and a VIP package, including access to premium sports and Sky TV packages, costing £65 per month:
- VIP – £65 per month
- Great Sport – £40 per month
- Great entertainment – £22 per month
- Sports – £15 per month
- Entertainment – £12 per month
This is then a pricing tier that suits your finances and viewing habits well, but note that the BT TV Box Pro really comes into its own when you have access to all of its premium offerings. contents. This is the VIP package we tested the box with for review, for reference.
The BT TV Box Pro is about as attractive in design as a set-top box. Low profile with curved edges, this is a simple matt black box with glossy trim, with an innocuous BT logo on the front that shines to show the condition of the box.
Spin the box around and next to a power input you have an antenna input, antenna output, USB (for firmware updates), Ethernet and optical audio port, plus a 4K HDR compatible HDMI port. Note that there’s no SCART input here, so if you’re still using a much older TV, it’s time to upgrade.
In addition to Ethernet, the box supports Wi-Fi connectivity and comes with 1TB of built-in storage space for recordings. That equates to around 600 hours of recordings, although that figure is significantly lower if you load 4K footage, dropping to just 60 hours. Four built-in tuners allow three channels to be recorded simultaneously while watching a fourth live program, meaning there’s little chance you’ll have to suffer from missing anything in the event of a conflict.
For the power-savvy, there’s a solid selection of eco-friendly settings to tweak, including a ‘smart’ sleep mode that can put the box into a deep sleep state during the hours when you’re least likely to use it.
A full-size remote is included with the package and works via a Bluetooth connection to the box, meaning no line of sight is needed to communicate with the box, allowing you to put it out of sight in an audiovisual cabinet. Playback controls, a universal seek button, and source and volume controls are included (although the big circular “BT” button at the top, which is actually a power button, was a little confusing at first because I instinctively expected it to take me to the home screen of the box).
The BT TV Box Pro interface is clear and easy to navigate. It’s split into horizontal panes (Live TV, Featured Apps, Recordings & Watchlist, BT Player, TV Shows, Movies and Sports), each scrolling to show a mix of featured content and live programming, depending on the blind.
With the YouView interface as its backbone, the BT TV Box Pro TV Guide is excellent. As well as letting you filter between all channels, HD and Ultra HD channels, subscription channels and channels grouped by genre, you can also scroll time up to seven days in the past to search for shows that you missed. Once you’ve found them, you can always tap what you want to watch, with the interface intelligently finding matching catch-up content, if available. There’s less 4K live streaming than on some competing boxes, notably Sky Q’s – but with built-in apps taken into account, you should have plenty to get the most out of your flashy TV. Also note that while the guide has a slight transparency so you can vaguely see the show behind it, it doesn’t offer picture-in-picture viewing if you’re trying to keep track of what’s on the screen. while looking for another show.
Although third-party apps like Amazon Prime Video also offer additional one-time purchases for movies and TV, the BT TV player is likely where you’ll pick up most of your movie rentals and purchases on the BT TV Box Pro. It is divided into a Film Store, TV Store, Sport, Kids and My Zone section to access your purchases. Everything is well-edited, with trending articles highlighting recent entertainment big hits, and pricing in line with other digital storefronts.
There’s a good selection of apps available to watch on-demand content, including BBC iPlayer, Britbox, Netflix, All4, ITV Hub, Now TV and Amazon Prime Video, offering a wide selection of programs available through one box. There are, however, a few big omissions. The biggest is Disney Plus, which isn’t available in the box; Neither is YouTube, Spotify, Apple TV or the Mubi indie film library.
The importance of these will vary depending on the capabilities of your smart TV itself – chances are these apps will be built into it, anyway. But if you’re looking for a unique box, the BT TV Box Pro is missing a few big names.
BT TV’s universal search tool is great, though. Press the magnifying glass on the remote, and you can search for shows, movies, and actors across all the built-in services built into the set-top box. For example, a search for “Daniel Craig” will reveal Craig’s Bond movies to buy on Amazon Prime Video, Knives Out via Now TV subscription, Sword of Honor on demand with Channel 4’s All4 and Logan Lucky to rent or buy via BT-TV. own store (to name just a few of the dozens of results). It also collects upcoming TV shows in an “On Now & Later” section. It’s a detailed and comprehensive way to find what you’re looking for.
The recordings section is particularly good too. Not only does it let you manage your recordings, lock important recordings, and show you how much space is left on your hard drive, it also includes a watchlist section where you can rate and save shows on your watch list. results across all content platforms, be it live TV, or apps like Netflix. It’s a neat feature that we’d love to see rivals like Sky Q incorporate.
It should be noted that the BT TV Box Pro also works with BT TV mobile apps. These allow you to remotely schedule recordings, watch live TV on the go, and access any movie or pay TV purchases on the go. It does not, however, allow you to remotely access your live recordings.
The overall performance of the BT TV Box Pro is top notch. It responds to remote control inputs and quickly extracts metadata and research data. Switching between apps is quick and there was no noticeable lag when moving through the box’s many channels and display options. Many of the box’s views, whether the previews and artwork for movies and TV, or the catch-up streams themselves, will depend on the quality and speed of your broadband connection, so hold on. into account before entering into the contract.