BT Ultra HD YouView box review

It's taking some time, but 4K is gradually becoming the norm for home entertainment and BT's new YouView box and Ultra HD channel is helping the cause. Here's our BT Ultra HD YouView box review (Humax DTR-T4000).

So you picked up a 4K TV year, perhaps in a Black Friday deal, but you're now wondering how you can upgrade your set-top box to match. Full HD is no longer good enough for your TV, even with upscaling and although there's little out there in the way of hardware, BT's on the case with its new Ultra HD YouView box.

See also: 5 cheapest 4K TVs.

BT Ultra HD YouView box review: Price and requirements

As with any TV, broadband and landline package, the price is a little complicated. It depends on what level of package you want and whether you're an existing BT customer. However, the Total Entertainment package you'll need to get the Ultra HD channel costs £15pm. The Ultra HD box is included with this package (see charges below) You'll also need BT Infinity fibre optic broadband since the channel is streamed over the internet.

Update: BT has confirmed with PC Advisor that you need a minimum internet connection speed of 44Mbps to stream the Ultra HD channel meaning that Infinity 1 (which is capped at 38Mbps) will not be enough.

Existing BT customer

If you're already a BT customer then you can add the Total Entertainment package to gain access to the Ultra HD channel – the cost will be added onto what you already pay. The box itself will cost you £49 as a one-off payment which is pretty good for what is likely to be worth £200+. There's also a £44 engineer installation but you potentially avoid this if you do it yourself.

New BT customer

Those joining BT will get a completely free box which is great but the activation fee for Infinity broadband is £39 so things balance out a bit. The cheapest package which includes Total Entertainment and Infinity 1 is £23pm (on offer) and you'll need to pay the £17.99pm line rental, too, and a £6.95 delivery charge for the Home Hub 5 router. A total monthly cost of just over £40pm isn't bad at all.

BT Ultra HD YouView box review: Hardware and features

If you've been using BT's previous YouView box (DTR-T2100) then things will be very familiar with this new Ultra HD model. Not only does the box look the same, apart from an Ultra HD logo, a glossy black front panel instead of silver and a single light on the front. However, the remote control is identical (you can even carry on using your old one if you like).

Setup is simple so ask BT not to send an engineer if you feel confident. You only need to plug in the power, aerial cable and HDMI cable to get going. You will need a 4K TV, of course, and you may need to be selective about which port you use as your model may not support Ultra HD on every port. The wrong one means you'll be watching in downscaled quality. BT has a list of TVs with which port to use here.

BT Ultra HD YouView box

You'll also need an internet connection and although the Ultra HD YouView box has Wi-Fi, we recommend using the Ethernet port. This will mean trailing a long cable to your router but it will be worth it for the performance when streaming the 4K channel.

There's lot of advantages of YouView including plenty of catch-up and on-demand services and the clever way that not only are internet channels shown alongside broadcast ones in the electronic program guide (EPG), you can record them, too. Since the experience is the same aside from the Ultra HD channel, read our BT YouView+ box review for a more detailed look at things like the interface and features.

This new Humax Ultra HD YouView box has twice the amount of storage compared to its predecessor. A total of 1TB and will, according to BT, mean you can record up to 600 hours of content. That sounds like plenty but that's standard definition though so record 4K and you'll only have 60 hours.

BT Ultra HD YouView box review: Performance and 4K content

Since the new Ultra HD YouView box is very similar to old one you're going to be buying it primarily for the 4K channel with the extra storage as a bonus. This may be the only Freeview box on the market with 4K at the moment but is the Ultra HD YouView box's main selling point any good?

In a word, yes. We tested the box on an LG 55UF950 and the Ultra HD channel looks absolutely stunning in its 3840x2160 resolution – remember double the resolution means four times the amount of pixels when moving from Full HD. The result (8 million pixels) is a superbly crisp image which feels extremely lifelike, there's a real wow factor here. Of course, your TV will have an impact on what things look like.

The 4K channel on offer here is BT Sport Ultra HD, so this may be the best thing ever or might make you stop reading this review. The content is entirely sport so it's not a channel for all kinds of 4K content.

The sport on offer benefits from a framerate of 50fps since most is fast paced. Seeing the ball ghosting across the screen is no longer a problem.

While the 4K programming on offer via BT Sport Ultra HD looks incredible, it's disappointing to find it often playing a demo reel of Ultra HD footage. Sports being shown on the channel include Premiership football, Champions League, FA Cup, Premiership Rugby, UFC and MotoGP. However, this doesn't appear to be enough to fill the schedule.

There will be, we assume, more channels in the future with 4K content but at the moment it is fairly sparse. Upgrading for a single channel which isn't always broadcasting something seems a little over the top so hopefully BT can get some more channels going soon.

If you do go for it now then at least you'll be future proofing but you'll be signing up to BT which might not be the best move with Sky Q coming early next year. We can't comment on how good Sky's new service is but it certainly looks interesting.

The selection of 4K content is made worse by the lack of a Netflix app on the Ultra HD YouView box. Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon are pushing more and more 4K content so this is a shame, even more so when your 4K TV doesn't have a built-in Netflix app. We hope Netflix will certify the box soon and get the app rolled out.

BT Ultra HD YouView (DTR-T4000): Specs

  • 2x Freeview HD tuners
  • 1TB hard drive, record up to 600 hours SD
  • Pause and rewind live TV
  • Record up 2 channels at once
  • Video outputs: HDMI
  • Video output resolution: 2160p/1080P/1080i/720p/576p/576i
  • Audio outputs: HDMI, optical S/PDIF
  • Other ports: 1x Ethernet, 1x USB 2.0
  • Low power standby mode (<0.5W)
  • Dimensions: 273x152x43mm (WDH)
  • Weight: 0.76kg
  • 2x Freeview HD tuners
  • 1TB hard drive, record up to 600 hours SD
  • Pause and rewind live TV
  • Record up 2 channels at once
  • Video outputs: HDMI
  • Video output resolution: 2160p/1080P/1080i/720p/576p/576i
  • Audio outputs: HDMI, optical S/PDIF
  • Other ports: 1x Ethernet, 1x USB 2.0
  • Low power standby mode (<0.5W)
  • Dimensions: 273x152x43mm (WDH)
  • Weight: 0.76kg

OUR VERDICT

The BT Ultra HD YouView is a decent upgrade for new or existing customers but only if you're a big sports fan. While the box has 1TB of storage and the quality of the Ultra HD content is superb, a single sports channel which often shows demo footage is a bit of a let-down. Unless you're keen to early adopt, it might be best to wait until BT has launched some other Ultra HD channels and we've had a chance to compare it to the upcoming Sky Q system.

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