The best Freeview box for recording and smart streaming services

We have put together a list of the best Freeview boxes, HD set-top boxes and Freeview recorders for easy TV viewing.

Watching Freeview

by Ellen Kinsey |

Freeview is a fantastic and free way to watch television. It offers over 95 per cent of the nation's favourite TV and with 70 live TV channels to pick from; there is always something for you to tune into. Freeview also provides an easy-to-use seven-day TV Guide that allows you to schedule recordings and reminders or set series links.

If this sounds like something that appeals to you, then we've rounded up the best Freeview boxes, HD set-top boxes, and Freeview recorders to give you the ultimate TV viewing experience.

What is Freeview Play?

Freeview Play is a service that combines digital terrestrial channels and catch-up television streaming all in one place, enabling you to browse and see what shows are coming up and backwards to see shows from the previous week. You can also pause, rewind and even record live TV. This video from Freeview explains more information:

The best Freeview boxes

Specifications:

Connections : HDMI, Ethernet

Features: EPG, Dolby Digital Surround Sound

Pros / cons:

Pros

Affordable and reliable

Cons

It does not have any on-demand or streaming features

Overview:

If you are after a basic, simple and accessible Freeview box, then Manhattan’s T1 Freeview HD Box is a cheap, cheerful and reliable option. This box provides access to 70 Freeview channels (15 of which are HD) and over 25 radio stations. You can view an eight-day programme guide, so you can check the TV listings and set reminders so you don't forget to tune into your favourite shows.

A great feature of the T1 is that it upscales standard channels content so that it looks crisper on full-HD TV sets.

Customer review: "Absolutely delighted. The aerial input only stopped working on a 7 year but hardly used otherwise great tv, so now use this device to input to one of the HDMI TV inputs to access BBC1 etc . Very simple setup - plug in HDMI to TV, plug in aerial cable, plug in mains to device. Switch on TV, switch on device, select the HDMI input and follow the very straightforward instructions to scan channels etc."

Specifications:

Connections: HDMI, Ethernet

Features: EPG, Dolby Digital Surround Sound, Recording, Pause TV, 500GB internal memory

Pros / cons:

Pros

Simple to use

Reliable recording

Cons

No streaming or Freeview Play

Overview:

The T2-R has many of the same functions as the smaller Manhattan T1 Freeview HD Box, such as an eight-day programme guide, ethernet connection for internet channels and HD upscaling - however, being the second upgraded model, it has some extra perks. It can pause and record live television and hold 300-hours of recordings. Additionally, you can record two programs simultaneously and arrange a whole TV series to record with one click.

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Customer review: "

I’m very happy with this Manhattan Freeview HD Recorder as it gives some of the perk’s that the other tv company’s do but at a much better price and no monthly bills and a lot more TV channels than I thought."

Specifications:

Connections: HDMI, Ethernet, WiFi, USB 2.0

Features: EPG, Dolby Digital Surround Sound, Freeview Play, Streaming, Humax streaming app

Pros / cons:

Pros

Packed with useful and exciting features

Cons

Pricey if you’re not using the extra features

Overview:

The Humax has many outstanding options making it one of our top picks. Its EPG (electronic programme guide) is clearly set out. Also, due to the inbuilt memory, you can pause and rewind live TV and record four shows at once while you watch a fifth from your pre-recorded catalogue.

The 1TB box offers 500-hours, but you can also get the 2TB variant for 1,000-hours of recording or the 500GB box for 250-hours.

This entertainment hub, when linked up with the internet, also provides you access to a range of streaming and catch-up apps, including Netflix, YouTube, BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub. So there will be no shortage of entertainment in your house. This box also has built-in WiFi, so no need for an ethernet cable and rogue cables everywhere.

Additionally, the Humax Freeview box has great connectivity and an added app that will stream recorded TV straight to your smart device. It also has USB ports for watching films and home videos from external storage devices.

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Customer review: "Really happy with the box, brought it to save money I was spending on sky but still wanted to be able to record programs - this is great as no subscription and can still access players and apps."

Specifications:

Connections: HDMI, Ethernet, WiFi

Features: EPG, Dolby Digital Surround Sound, Streaming, 4K Ultra HD, Freeview Play

Pros / cons:

Pros

Gives access to live TV and streaming services, as well as the ability to record

Cons

None that we can find!

Overview:

The Manhattan T3-R HDR 4K Ultra HD Smart Freeview Play TV Recorder offers standard Freeview with over 85 channels and Freeview Play features; you will have access to services such as Netflix, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, UKTV Play and more. Not only that, but you can pause and rewind live TV, record two channels at the same time, and record an entire series at the touch of a button.

Another perk of the T3 is that it can handle 4K UHD content, so if you’ve got a 4K TV, then you can watch 4K content from apps, like BBC iPlayer, YouTube, and Netflix. However, don't worry if you have just got a standard 1080p HD TV - everything on the box will still work for you.

Looking for the ultimate watching experience? Check out these 4k smart TV deals.

Customer review: "Does what it says. Has breathed new life into my old TV. Love being able to pause live TV. Small and compact and unobtrusive. So easy to use. Great product."

Specifications:

Connections: HDMI, Ethernet, WiFi, USB

Features: 1TB Memory,4K Networking and playback, Smartphone app

Pros / cons:

Pros

Impressive tech-heavy features

Cons

Over-engineered for normal TV watchers

Overview:

Panasonic’s DMR-BWT850 is a fantastic Freeview box that has an inbuilt-recording function to pause and rewind live TV, 1TB memory, and can record two shows at once here. Additionally, it even comes with a Blu-ray play with the Freeview Play included to see 8-days forward and 7-days back in the programme guide.

It also offers streaming services such as Netflix, ITV Player, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video and is compatible with 4K media. If you are a frequent Panasonic user, then you can connect a Panasonic camera or camcorder to the box, and you will be able to look back and archive your UHD footage. A range of additional video and music files are also supported, such as MP4, WAV, FLAC, and MPEG2.

There is also a Panasonic app called, TV Anywhere which allows you to stream recorded content to a smartphone or tablet and can program new recordings to be set.

Customer review: "Very pleased with this device. Great when you can record two programmes at the same time. Good reception on BBC i player and ITV Hub. Easy to set up."

Woman watching tv
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Freeview box FAQs

Do I need an aerial to watch Freeview?

Yes, you need an aerial to receive Freeview’s digital terrestrial channels.

Do I need an aerial to watch Freeview Play, or can I use an internet connection?

Yes, an aerial is required to watch Freeview Play. Live TV is obtained through an aerial, as it is with regular Freeview. Only the on-demand and catch-up features need internet. According to the Freeview website, you will need a minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps.

If you don’t have an internet/ethernet connection, then there is no need to worry. These supplementary channels are optional, and your Freeview box will still be able to receive standard main TV channels, such as the BBC and ITV.

Can I connect an HD box to an analogue TV?

Yes, it is possible to connect an HD Freeview box to an analogue TV set. Though, you will need to purchase an adapter for this to work properly.

However, bear in mind that even though that the box and channels may be HD, however, if you run the TV display screen through a convertor, an adapter or an analogue TV, the image will no longer be in high-definition. If you want it to be HD, then you will need to purchase an HD TV; you can read our guide to the best 4K smart TVs here.

Can I use my Freeview box with an indoor aerial?

Yes, this is possible. However, many manufacturers advise against this method as indoor or portable ariels will likely be susceptible to interference and are far less stable than conventional outdoor home aerials. Freeview recommends the following on its website:

“To get the best results, we recommend that you use a wideband aerial. Also known as Type T (for 'total') or Type W (for 'wideband'), these cover the entire range of signals used to transmit digital TV and continue to work even if there are changes to your TV signals.”

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