BT Ultra HD YouView box review

Be warned, once you try UHD you'll struggle to accept relatively soft HD channels...

Humax DTR-T4000
The Ultra HD broadcast revolution is here

Unfortunately, the box is no quicker to power up than the BT TV YouView box, taking a good 20 seconds or so from standby (and that in the non-eco mode, with the latter taking a full minute).

Considering how complex the content offering is the box itself is pretty easy to get to grips with.

Recording shows and accessing them proves a cinch and seems reliable. My only gripe here is that fast forward and rewind don't allow you to shuffle through at twice normal speed, four times, eight times, etc. Instead each press of the FF button skips ahead about a minute at a time, which makes it very hard to find a specific incident. Also, there's no slow-mo (as there is on Sky's services).

BT Ultra HD

While live 4K football is shown simultaneously in HD and Ultra HD each channel has its own cameras, commentators and studio support. And both require a lot of equipment and manpower to capture and deliver the picture.

Having checked out some of the matches broadcast in 4K, we can say the extra resolution proves captivating, especially when compared with the HD feeds. The most obvious difference is the extra detail afforded by the higher resolution format.

Everything is sharper than it is in HD, not just a bit sharper, much sharper. Admittedly, BT Sport 2 is a bit on the soft side anyway compared with football on Sky, which I discovered when I switched over to my Sky box to check out the Dundee United vs Aberdeen match on Sky Sports 1 HD.

Anyway, the outline of players in UHD is much clearer, the detail in the grass is better (even in wide shots), and you can actually read the wording on the ads that run round the upper tier of the Wembley stand.

This additional detail allows the camera to zoom out wider, so you see more of an overview of the action. Static detail is especially good since there is some inevitable loss of resolution with motion and the frame rate isn't high enough to keep fast moving objects pin sharp, though it is running at a higher rate than HD.

BT Ultra HD

One shot that really showed off the extra detail had Jose Mourinho standing on the touch line, taken from afar but framed so that you could see 20 rows of fans behind him, and you can clearly see the faces of around 800 supporters.

Astonishing detail

Another great shot was when Hazard took a free kick, which Cech saved, seen zoomed in from the opposite end, the clarity was a level above anything else ever seen in HD.

BT Ultra HD

Any Ultra HD screen will be equipped to show off the extra detail with motion resolution holding up pretty well thanks to a 50fps frame rate.

As such, my 2015 model Samsung 48JU7000T looked excellent, especially with its Auto Motion Plus motion control mode set to the Smooth setting, keeping the ball from distorting when moving quickly through the air, and more pertinently, doing so without any processing artefacts.

Colours, set to output via HDMI in 10-bit, were also terrific, though the luminosity of the players' pink and green boots was arguably too intense.

The match proved tricky at times for the cameras because of the immense contrast between sunny and shady parts of the pitch and the technology was clearly at its best when the light level was even (no wonder Sky adopted HDR for its own 4K service).

BT Ultra HD

Even so, the broadcast was without doubt a success, with just a couple of very minor picture glitches and no sound problems at all.

Happily, the IPTV stream is outside of your internet service, so watching a broadcast won't affect simultaneous streaming or web browsing elsewhere in the home on a computer. Also, the IP stream is user-agnostic so your speed won't be affected by the number of other users in the district.

Given that so few boxes were out in the wild at the time of the first UHD broadcast it was perhaps forgivable that BT would skimp on the frills, with Peter Drury expected to provide the commentary and fulfil the pre-match and half-time hosting duties along with single guest Kevin Davies.

HD viewers on the other hand had the A-list – with Glenn Hoddle, Ian Wright and Rio Ferdinand.

It felt a bit like a beta service had been unleashed on the public, but Jake Humphrey, the main BT Sport presenter, was at the birth of his second child on the eve of the broadcast so there was a definite element of reshuffling.

As time has gone on though, 4K has grown in stature, with football matches at least broadcast in the higher Ultra HD resolution as a matter of course.