This new, sub £80 set top box from Manhattan follows the Freeview Play specification, meaning it combines access to subscription-free channels available via your aerial, such as BBC One, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Dave, with catch-up and on-demand apps including iPlayer, All4, and UKTV Play.
In addition to the above, which are available on all Freeview Play boxes, Manhattan has included apps for YouTube and YouTube Kids which can be used to access both free content and YouTube Premium, the firm’s subscription service which includes original TV shows, including the superb Cobra Kai, a sequel to the original Karate Kid movies.
The Manhattan T3 is a Freeview Play receiver meaning it can’t record and, unlike some competitor devices, it also lacks the ability to live pause Freeview channels, although it can pause on-demand and catch-up content.
A recording version, which will also live pause, is due to launch next month so if that’s an important feature for you it’s probably best to wait a few weeks.
The T3 is housed in a high gloss black casing which curves toward the front. As with most boxes made today, there’s no display or clock on the front – the only indicator is a small LED which glows red to signify when the box is in standby, and blue when it’s in use.
This creates the absolute minimum of light, making the T3 ideal for those looking for a box for their bedroom or other setting where excessive light pollution would be unwelcome.
On the rear of the box is an aerial input, an aerial out socket so you can share your Freeview signal with another device, an ethernet port so you can connect the box to the internet (the T3 also supports a wireless connection if you prefer to go cable-free), an optical audio output port, a HDMI connection and a USB port which can be used for software updates.
In a nice touch Manhattan uses the brief set-up process (during which the box will scan for channels, prompt you to enter a PIN and, if you’ve not connected an ethernet cable, to enter your Wi-Fi details) to guide you through some of the box and remote control’s functions.
The quad-core processor means the box responds instantly to key presses and that catch-up / on-demand apps and programmes load within a couple of seconds, avoiding the lag that curse some TVs and set top boxes.
The processor also ensures the box is more than capable of streaming gorgeous looking 4K content without any buffering or interruptions.
As mentioned above the T3 supports 4K content (assuming you have a 4K TV), although this is currently only available via the YouTube app and iPlayer, which the BBC is using to trial the format.
The remote control offers one-button access to a ‘Featured’ page which brings together popular programmes from the catch-up and on-demand apps, and the T3 can also search across all the apps, making it easy to find the shows you’re looking for.
Programmes can be added to a watchlist for viewing later and it’s also possible to save a search to re-use later, avoiding the need to keep typing in the same programme names.
As with all other menu and system functions, searches are fast with results appearing as soon as you start typing and options quickly updating as you type in more of your keyword.
Personally we’d have preferred the option of entering letters and numbers direct from the remote control’s number keys rather than having to scroll backwards and forwards through an onscreen A-Z.
As with all Freeview Play devices, the T3 also lets you access catch-up content by browsing backwards in the EPG and pressing OK to launch the right app and start playing the show.
Sadly there’s no Netflix or Amazon Prime Video apps, so the only option for those looking to supplement Freeview with extra subscription content is YouTube Premium.
Even though the add-on premium content options are limited, we like the Manhattan T3 – it’s a fuss-free, speedy and well designed way of bringing all of the UK’s most popular catch-up apps to your existing TV.
We like the watchlist feature and the fact that the T3 is compatible with the BBC’s 4K trials, something that many expensive TVs and Freeview Play boxes from some other manufacturers can’t do.
At less than £80 it’s a sensibly priced upgrade for those using an older Freeview box or those whose TV lacks all of the catch-up apps.