BT has a new 4K HDR set-top box on the way, after unveiling the highly specified BT TV Box Pro.
The BT TV Box Pro builds on the communications provider's line of home set-top boxes, with more capabilities and features than ever, packing in 4K HDR streaming as well as Dolby Atmos audio and a whopping 600 hours of recordings available to store on its 1TB hard drive.
That's twice the recording storage of the BT TV 4K Recordable Box, with never-before included HDR support, and with specifications far above the basic BT TV Box (which caps out at HD resolution, and can't record programming for later use).
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The BT TV Box Pro seems to keep the same silhouette of the other Recordable boxes, if with a slightly slimmer body. It's very much made with modern 4K TVs in mind, and ditches support for SCART inputs in favor of the more commonly available HDMI connections on today's smart TVs.
As in previous BT boxes, you can "Record, pause and rewind live TV for up to two hours", and "Record remotely with the BT TV App" too. A total of four tuners allow you to record three shows at once, while watching another, and the Dolby Atmos audio support will allow you to get 3D sound out of compatible programming (if your 4K TV supports the format too, that is).
Of course, you'll need to buy a BT subscription that includes the new box: "BT TV Box Pro is available initially to new customers taking a VIP package and will be added to other packages in due course. For £65 per month the VIP package includes a NOW Cinema, Entertainment, Sport Membership as well as NOW Boost. This gives BT TV customers the biggest Sky channels including Sky Atlantic, Sky One, and all Sky Cinema channels (including over 1,000 movies on demand), plus BT Sport Ultimate in up to 4K HDR as well as Eurosport."
Set, game, match
It's a tricky time for the traditional set-top box. With multiple streaming devices flooding the market, and viewing habits shifting to online platforms like Netflix and Disney Plus, providers like BT are having to up their game to compete with (often aggressively priced) streaming sticks, and on demand services that don't require recording workarounds to watch your favorite programming when you want to.
One place that they do have an advantage, though, is their support for live TV channels and broadcasts, as well as entertainment packages that throw in additional films, TV shows, and reality TV programming not necessarily found on their online-only counterparts.
For an all-round TV experience, there's still a case to be made for the set-top box, then. The BT TV Box also has to compete with other boxes, though – like the excellent Sky Q platform, or the new Virgin TV 360 that introduced 'mini boxes' for spreading Virgin TV access to more rooms in your home.
And for those not wanting another cabled streamer littering their living room, the BT TV Box Pro will get an update to become Wi-Fi capable later in the year too.
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