EchoStar's Ultra Slim Box HDT-610R is a, well, very slim personal video recorder (PVR).
The Ultra Slim Box is the thinnest PVR we've seen. EchoStar goes as far as claiming the svelte 14.6mm chassis makes it the slimmest PVR in the world, which is probably true. It will certainly be the best option if you're short on space. However, at more than £200 it's not the most budget friendly PVR. See also: Digital Home product reviews.
Taking the HDT-610R out of the box, the design is somewhat striking, the device is even smaller and lighter than we imagined. It's not that much larger than a DVD case which is saying something. Furthermore, the Ultra Slim Box is made from aluminium, giving it a strong and durable feel.
As well as the sleek matt black aluminium helping keep the weight down, the power supply is unsurprisingly external. But it's not big and can be easily hidden away.
The design is extremely minimalist with just an IR receiver, power light and button plus a few logos on the front of the Ultra Slim Box. The selection of ports is orthodoxly located at the rear, of which there are a lot, considering the minute size of the box itself.
As you would expect, there's an HDMI port and there's also an RF input and output, so you can loop an aerial to the HDT-610R and then onto a secondary tuner. There's also an S/PDIF optical (mini) for two USB 2.0 ports, IR out and an Ethernet port. Unfortunately there's a lack of Wi-Fi so you can't go cable free. EchoStar does help you out here since both an HDMI and an Ethernet cable are supplied.
Setting up the Ultra Slim Box HDT-610R was easy enough, apart from having to wait an age for it to tune the channels. Navigation around the electronic program guide (EPG) and menus is smooth and intuitive. However, we were disappointed with the plastic remote supplied by EchoStar. While the remote is slim and laid-out well it feels awfully cheap and the buttons make an annoyingly loud click with every press.
Recording programs is easy from the eight-day EPG, simply by highlighting the chosen program and hitting record. You can record an individual episode or an entire series. A button on the remote or within the on-screen menu takes you to your library which is organised well with good use of folders and 'new' icon to indicate content you haven't watched.
The Ultra Slim Box offers Freeview+ HD and using a 500GB hard drive is able to pause and rewind TV as well as record it. Twin tuners mean one program can be recorded at the same time as watching another. The 500GB hard drive can store up to 300 hours in standard definition, or up to 125 hours in high definition.
We were slightly disappointed to find that the Ultra Slim Box doesn't offer EchoStar's Slingbox technology for streaming content to devices like tablets and smartphones. We were told that the device is simply too thin to fit the hardware in.
Another issue is the claim of Smart TV services because there is a distinct lack of the promised BBC iPlayer leaving users with just BoxOffice 365 for paid on-demand content.