This is a review of the Humax BT Youview 4K Box as well as of the BT TV Service.
I will be giving my thoughts of the hardware as well as the BT TV service and comparing it to other similar devices on the market, by similar I mean devices of similar size that can also play back media in 4K and Live tv whether via On board or Network Tuner.
Device 1: Humax Youview Box
Service: Freeview HD + Recorder 1 TV(Antenna) + IP TV (BT) 4K
Res: 4K @ 50HZ HDMI 2.0
Install (£44 + £35 Activation if Taking lowest package)
Monthly: £43-£63 (TV + Internet + Line Rental)
Device 2: Nvidia Shield Android TV, Nvidia Tegra X1, 3GB RAM, Wifi AC, 16GB Flash or 500GB HD
Service: Android TV, Netflix 4K, YouTube 4K, Media Streaming from LAN, USB, HD Homerun DVB-T2
Res: 4K @ 60HZ HDMI 2.0, 4K @ 24HZ
Monthly: £8.99 Netflix 4k (Optional)
Info on BT TV 4K
BT TV 4K Service provides as part of subscription a 1 TB Youview Recorder, this allows you to receive Freeview HD as well as the Youview service which is a catchup service allowing you to view previously broadcast content on various National Channels by scrolling back through the EPG. You also gain access to BT TV which gives you access to additional Channels via your BT internet Infinity Connection, While the set top box is a 4K device it is important to note that 4K service is only deliverable via this method not via the Freeview service. With the 1 TB hard drive you can record the freeview as well as the BT TV channels
Scroll Down to View Channel Line up and Package Prices on Link Below
Service and Subcription
To be able to subscribe to the BT 4K TV Service you need to have a BT Infinity internet connection with BT currently “Infinity 1 or 2” or be in area that delivers one to your door, you must take out this service with BT which means moving from a different ISP if you are not currently with BT, so you must weigh the pro’s and cons.
The actual BT TV IP TV service uses up to 29mbps of your connection to deliver the TV content to the set top box, so you are only left with 40mbps bandwidth for internet use while you are watching IP TV if you have Infinity 2 or 10mbps if you have Infinity 1. A bit cheeky of them as they do not mention this upfront so you are paying for a 72mbps connection yet you can only use 42mbps while you are watching 4K IPTV.
Apart from the reduction in bandwidth, you also have to use the BT Home Hub router supplied by BT, as the IPTV signal is delivered via Multicasting which the BT Home Hub supports while a majority of other routers do not. Those who are using non BT routers and have complicated network setups this make be something you want to think about. A few routers such as some from Asus with a bit of tweaking can be set up to work with Multitasking but this is a hit and miss.
The IPTV content especially the 4K Content can be quite taxing on the routers CPU, using and Asus Dual Core Router I found it uses around 20% of the CPU for the 4K Streaming, adding file sharing and multiple wireless devices to the network then it is pretty taxing on the router, some could potentially face performance issues on the network as well as overheating on the router.
Currently I have the home hub setup to just serve just IPTV content to the Youview Box, I have a 2nd Router attached to the home hub on a different subnet where the rest of my network devices are connected to, this performs the main routing for my network, leaving both router’s CPU’s evenly balanced.
This box features LAN port, Power, HDMI, Optical, 2 x USB 2.0, Power and RF IN/OUT
The Humax is a fairly decent size, slightly smaller than the Sky HD Multiroom box, the device itself is fairly light, and plastic in design. The PCB is fairly large taking up the entire space of the chassis, considering the limited amount of components on the board this could of been made to 2/3rd of the size.
Cooling system consists of Large heatplate on chipset and 40CM exhaust Fan, Vents are in the top of chassis to exhaust hot air from chipset and Hard Drive. All in all a poor cooling solution as the device is considerably hot, chipset is too hot to touch, a heatpipe/hestsink and blower fan would of been more idle, reducing the size of PCB would of given more room for adequate cooling and perhaps a metal enclosure for the hard drive to reduce its noise instead of mounting directly ontop of PCB.
Shield: This device is very thin, a lot of thought went into the design, 35% the dimensions of the Humax. Cooling system is similar to notebook with Heatpipe/heatsink and blower fan to vent air out of rear of chassis.
This box comes in two versions with only difference being either 16GB Flash storage on board or a 500GB HD, the Flash version cannot be upgraded to HD.
Shield Features 2 x USB 3,0 Ports for connecting flash or hard drive with media content, also has a SDXC Card slot which supports 128Gb Micro SD, micro usb 2.0 for connecting to PC to access storage drive in shield. Lan and Wifi AC are also present as is power port and HDMI 2.0. Although Lan is Gigabit it is not a shielded port, no optical port is present either.
Humax: This has two power modes, an Echo and Non Echo. In Echo Mode the unit is in standby with everything turned off and standby light red, In non Echo Mode the unit is in standby with Hard Drive running 24/7 and standby light purple.
Shield: This only has one power mode which I call non echo for the fact the Hard Drive run's 24/7 when in stand by there is no option to turn it completely off unless you pull out the power cord or hold down power button on the unit for a very long time (10 Sec+), it was not designed to be turned off.
Startup Times: (Time till first moving image is displayed) from Off/Standby Mode
Echo Standby: 1-2 Minutes
Non Echo: 8 Seconds
Off: 1-2 Minutes
Non Echo: 4 Seconds
Left Light/Middle: Red = Echo Standby, Blue = On, Purple = Non Echo Standby
Right Light: Red = Recording
On = Solid Green, Starting Up: Flashing Green
Noise (Background Noise is 35DB)
ON/Non Echo: 47DB, The main noise comes from the Hard Drive, it's mainly motor noise, seeks noise is not noticeable, due the to cut out vents in top of chassis to aid in heat extraction the majority of HD noise is leaked out and is very distracting, not something you would want in your bedroom.
Non Echo/ON: 37DB
Considering the footprint is a lot smaller than the Humax as well a lot more powerful and also has a 2.5" HD, Nvidia did pretty well to keep noise only 2DB over Ambient Noise. Nvidia has a lot of experience when it comes to cooling and fan design and big R&D team and budget so I am guessing that is what helped. I have not heard the fan ramp up despite some intensive gaming.
Humax: It's not the fastest but also not the slowest, no where as near as fast as scrolling EPG of Windows Media Center. Slow CPU is most probably cause of this. GUI seems to be rendered at 1080P not 4K, would need some confirmation of this, have seen this in the past, Samsung using SD GUI on HDTV, as HD GUI on 4K TV. Could be a little more user friendly and simpler, no search option in EPG have to use a separate section of the popup Youview Menu to access it.
Channel Switching: 2 Seconds for Freeview Channels, 4 Seconds for IP Channels
Play, Pause, Rewind, Stop functions all work fine, in terms of the rewind function for timeshifting limited to 30 seconds backwards and 1 minute forwards.
For recording rewind and forwards functions are between 3 seconds to 1 minutes although 10 seconds to 5 minutes would be more appropriate. It’s a shame you cannot also use the directional keys to skip forward and backwards.
Shield: The OSD is rendered on the GPU so very fast moving between icons and windows, some lag hear and there though. Certain parts of OS seem to be rendered at HD rather than 4K. Random Content organization, don't see a way to sort it out in a custom mode.
HDMI Power ON: Turns on Tv with Device power on
HDMI Auto Switch: Turn to correct input when device powered on
HDMI Power OFF: Turns of Device when Display powered off
HDMI Remote Control: Control Device via Displays remote
HDMI Volume Control: Control Display volume with Device Remote
Humax: Although not listed I found it supports HDMI Auto Switch and HDMI Power On but not power off or HDMI Remote or Volume Control.
Shield: Supports HDMI Auto Switch , HDMI Power On and HDMI Power OFF as well as partial working HDMI Remote Support, HDMI Volume control not working.
Humax: As well as the HD and SD Freeview content that can be received via antenna (quality similar to on-board TV freeview tuner) this device also receives several channels including one 4K one via IP. The quality on Sd and HD IP channels are lower than that of Sky, very low bitrates nowhere near as good as the ones transmitted on satellite. BT has a single 4k ip channel called "BT Sport Ultra HD" which comes in at around 29mbps, but it only shows 1 4k game/event per week at all other times just a loop of 4K/Hd content, so very limited 4K content wise. This box also has catchup players, but only for certain freeview channels not for the IP channels. There is some 4K content on the BT catchup player, 7 clips as of now, not sure why BT have not expanded on the 4K content on their Bt Player since launch, considering there is a lot of content in 4K on youtube and Netflix, BT should be speaking to some of these film makers to license their content on their BT TV service.
In regards to Picture quality on 4K content, it's pretty much similar to the 4k content on the astra test channels, very sharp and detail with no signs of pixilation, although for the 4K Ultra HD sport channels there is a rolling demo loop when no event is shown which is a mix of 4K, HD and SD content.
Although the box features a number of USB ports, I am unsure at the time of what use they have, unfortunately you cannot plug in flash drive or hard drive and play back media via the Youview box.
Shield: This runs on Android TV platform, Video content is available from Netflix as well as Youtube and also in 4K on either platform, some might say why use the shield when the TV has the apps built in. I find the shield apps faster and Netflix also picks up more content that the TV app as well as gets more frequent updates.
There is also google movies where you can rent or buy content as well as playing back content via USB / SD or Local Share on LAN. You can download MX Player and then pretty much play all formats, MPEG 2, VC1, HEVC, VP8, VP9, WMV9, H264, FLAC, MP3,WAV, OGG, WMA. Nearly all codecs are hardware accelerated and support H264 an HEVC/VP9 @ 4K/60HZ. DTS & AC3 as well as the HD Variants can be bitstream to your AV Receivers via the latest update. There is also Kodi as well as PLEX media apps, so it makes a great device for media playback. It supports Network tuner such as HD Homerun DVB-T2, although issue at moment is only video but no audio so hoping they work on a fix. Googe provide a Live TV app which gives an epg for the HD Home Run, better than that of the HD Homerun App but since it is a network tuner then it can take time to switch channels, also there is no recording function, but I am told that Silicon Dust who make the Home Run are making a PVR for windows but not sure if that would be ported to Android let alone the TV Platform
Since the Nvidia K1 has a gaming GPU that powers the shield you can download games as well as stream from cloud or your PC.
Humax: No device is perfect, had a few freeview and sat recorders in my time and experience the random crash here and there. With the Humax it’s definitely not the most reliable, no freezing yet but have found when scheduling recordings and the box is in echo standby it fails to turn on, had to remove the power cord and plug back in to resolve, this has happened twice out of the 6 times I have scheduled recordings. In terms of picture no break of yet, have seen a message twice saying that there is a problem with the network on IP channels and get a blank screen, changing channel seems to resolve this.
Shield: Latest Firmware is buggy, Lack of Apps on Android TV Platform, slow to navigate menu’s at time, google voice does not always work, Stock media player does a poor job of organising content.
Is BT Youview 4K for me?
If you are not with BT then I would not switch if you just want 4K TV content, at the moment there is very limited content on the 4K service. You would be better off with the 4K apps built into your tv or purchase an Nvidia Shield Android TV, since there are constant updates for it, it may well receive a 4K Movie rental or Download service In the near future, it also supports many media formats, a lot more than any 4K TV.
Youtube 4K content is free and there is a lot of it, also Netflix 4K is £9 a month, there are several shows which are in 4K and they are adding more and more 4K content, with BT there is no guarantee when or if they will add more 4K content to their BT Player library or any more events to the 4K content on the Ultra HD Channel. It seems they rushed into the market too early with pretty much no 4K content available.
If you are with BT and have BT TV + Infinity 2 already and they are providing you an upgrade at no extra cost then go for it, be aware though this may tie you into an extra 12 month subscription.
If you are with BT and do not have BT TV but you have infinity 2, consider if you can justify the additional given the extra IP channels they provide.
Also bare in mind that other services may be launching in the future from Sky or Virgin which may offer more 4K content and ask yourself if you want to be tied in to a service for 12 or 18 months for what limited 4K content is available.
BT TV 4K, HOW Can they Improve?
More content Please, instead of investing millions in football rights why not invest it to produce some quality 4K content.
Redesign the box, fix the inadequate cooling and distracting noise from hard drive. Consider an all metal enclosure and use it to dissipate the heat more effectively.
Considering all 4K Tv’s now have pretty much all the hardware the Box has built into them as well as USB recording why not work with TV manufactures to get BT TV 4K service onto their sets as an app, in a few years time soon we won’t be having a dedicated box connected to each tv, we will have a central box connected to home network then each client device will connect to it via an app to receive content. The reliance on an additional box also takes up room, uses power and creates a noise, not something you want in the bedroom!.
Should I buy an Nvidia Shield?
For a starting price of £150 the Shield TV is very good value of money, considering you get a £40 controller included with it. Build quality is very high and you are getting the most powerful Mobile CPU/GPU on the market and very good power efficiency.
As well as gaming this device is great for media playback, if your looking for something to play back media on your tv via USB Storage or from Home LAN, your not going to get better than since considering out of the box its vast codec and support. This device is also support the latest HEVC codec as 60HZ via HDMI 2.0.
Main issue with the shield is lack of a decent first party application for organizing your media, but you can use Plex or Kodi. The onboard media player is very basic, but downloading MX Player resolves this.
Lack of DLNA support is also a concern, You can download ES File Explorer to Browse Network Shares, but the only way to get DLNA support is to sideload an app such as Bubble Media Player. The shield does support chromecast, which like Miricast relies on compression for transmission, so not ideal for sharing your mobile or laptop display.
I just want to see 4K TV, but I don’t want to pay for it?
If you have a 4K TV with a DVB-S2 Tuner, have an installer run a cable from your Sky dish to TV or turn off your sky box and temporarily remove cable from it and connect to 4K TV SAT/IF Port, tune to below channel on 28.2
This is part of the 4K demo loop that plays on Astra
BT Ultra HD YouView Box User Review
BT Ultra HD ReviewReview of BT Ultra HD YouView Box Personal Video Recorder by meansizzler, Oct 5, 2015.
Ease of Use Menus/GUI6
Picture Quality HD7
Picture Quality SD7
Value for Money6