Hands on: PictureBox on Samsung TV Smart Hub review

PictureBox - £4.99 a month and now on Samsung TVs
PictureBox - £4.99 a month and now on Samsung TVs

Samsung added to its on-demand movie portfolio this week, with the arrival of PictureBox on its Smart Hub connected TV service.

There are already a number of movie services available through the Smart Hub, with LoveFilm, Acetrax and to some extent iPlayer offering up myriad movie streaming options.

But PictureBox is hoping to add something different, offering unlimited viewing of content for £4.99 a month – or, as it sells itself, "less than the price of one cinema ticket".

Although it is new to Samsung tellies, PictureBox has a firm footing in on-demand. The service has been around for five years, through the likes of Top Up TV, Virgin and BT Vision, and alongside this there is now an iPad app and access to the service through a PC.


One PictureBox account allows for up to five devices to be registered at one time.

What surprised about PictureBox was just how good the quality of the streaming was through the Smart Hub.

Although it isn't quite HD, colours were vivid and there was no lag in the sound. It took around 10 seconds for the movie to begin, but once it was up and running there was no sign of buffering.


PictureBox is owned by Universal, so the majority of movies on the service are Universal titles. While this isn't a great thing for choice, it is for quality – as they can get the movie codecs straight from source.

When it does come to choice, there are just 28 movies to choose from a month. This isn't because PictureBox has a lack of content, this is deliberate to not overwhelm consumers.


After four weeks, the 28 movies on offer are refreshed and a new line-up is revealed. In the online world, content is king so it will be interesting to see if this approach works for those watching the movies through the Smart Hub.

Again, to try and not confuse consumers, the UI of PictureBox is reassuringly simple. All you have are categories at the top of the screen, including New, Most Viewed, Highlights and Last Chance.

Interestingly, PictureBox aren't using any recommendation engines as of yet, but with just 28 titles on offer it is probably a feature that's redundant.

Like pretty much all on-demand services, the movies on offer are a strange mix of popular older movies and 'pretty recent but been out on Blu-ray for a while' films.


With this in mind, whether or not PictureBox is worth its £4.99 price tag all depends on what context you look at the service.

As there are 28 movies on show, you are paying just 18p to view each one – which is a bargain.

But it's unlikely that you will want to watch everything that is on offer, which could leave you some months wondering why you paid for the service at all.

Considering it is available on so many platforms, however, PictureBox could well be the on-demand movie service you have been looking for.

The PictureBox app is out now and available on all Samsung internet@TV and Smart Hub connected TVs.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.