EchoStar invited us to oogle the world’s slimmest digital TV recorder (DTR) the Ultra Slim Box (or the slightly less alluring name of HDT-610R), which crams a tonne of features inside a 14mm aluminium chassis.
If you’re into watching broadcast TV the Freeview+ HD Ultra Slim Box offers consumers subscription free TV with access to 50 digital channels plus 4 in HD. You can pause or rewind live TV and record a complete series at the touch of a button using Series Link.
“We’re already inviting consumers to watch their TV anywhere and now we’re offering them the opportunity to own the slimmest digital TV recorder in the world. The Ultra Slim Box represents the coming of age for the DVR and is the perfect complement to the latest range of ultra slim TVs,” commented Rhod Williams, Senior Vice President and General Manager of EchoStar Europe.
EchoStar were keen to point out exactly how good looking the Ultra Slim Box is compared with a conventional DTR and displayed other design classics to drive the point home. And they do have a point. It looks great. But it’s not all good looks and charm. Inside they’ve managed to squeeze a 500GB hard disk drive (up to 300 hours of recording space+), a twin tuner to ensure that consumers can watch one channel whilst recording another and an HDMI connection. There’s also an Ethernet port so you can access to Smart TV features including catch-up TV from BBC iPlayer.
“Consumers are looking forward to an exciting summer of sport and facing a packed viewing schedule, digital video recording will be one of the key features that viewers will be looking for”, said Ilse Howling, Managing Director of Freeview.
EchoStar has partnered with The Connected Marketplace to bring on demand services to the Ultra Slim Box platform through the BoxOffice365 service, plus movies from PictureBox, all available for a monthly fee with more choices to come. But no NetFlix. Everything should have NetFlix.
Ultra Slim Box is available for pre-order online now from Amazon, John Lewis and Maplin for about £260. Want to walk into a shop and purchase one? You’ll have to wait till the end of May.
Set-top boxes have a really hard time. A lot of people will have Sky or Virgin. Most TVs now come with Freeview included. So why do you need a set-top box? Echostar pioneered the hard drive recording technology which we have come to love and use everyday as used in products like Sky+. Echostar and Freesat have worked on creating a product which differentiates itself and provides unique features.
People are becoming more mobile and want more things on the go. The ability to watch TV anywhere on any device is the heart of the Echostar SlingLoaded HDS-600RS. Essentially, it is a Freesat+ HD digital television recorder giving you the choice to watch stored programmes on your iPad, PC, Mac or mobile device. Yes, it is compatible with the iPhone and android devices. Have you ever visited a friend’s house and wanted to show them an episode from your favourite show which have you recorded but it is on your set-top box at home? Or maybe you are overseas and you do not want to miss your must-see show? Eastenders anyone? Well plug in your iPad and voila! The connects to the SlingLoaded HDS-600RS at home and using the App you can control the settop box as if you are on sofa. The App acts like a remote with all the functions you would expect.
Space will not be issue as it has a huge 500GB hard drive to store all the TV and movies you want, up to 100 hours in HD. BBC iPlayer comes with the box on launch. ITV Player and 4onDemand are due to follow suit soon so catch-up will be easy. The box is easy to setup as you connect to your TV and broadband and create a Sling account and you can watch TV anywhere you like in HD. I remember when I first watched SD TV after getting my HDTV. The difference was shocking and I could not believe how much I was missing out! So I find it imperative that this upscales SD TV services. Aesthetically, it has touch controls which are easy to use. It has a sleek look and will suit any living space. It has all the features of a set-top box including TV Guide and 150 channels.
Now here’s the bad news. It costs £349.99 for the box. Viewing on PC, Mac is free. If you wish to watch TV on your iPad, the App costs £19.99. I know! For £349.99 why on earth are you paying for the App? We agree. The App should be free. But apparently it down to the costs of developing the App. There are plenty of cheap set-top boxes but the ability to watch TV anywhere is unique and very convenient. Would I pay £300 extra for the privilege, no. If you like the sound of SlingLoaded, you can preorder it now on Amazon and it will be available on 1st April.