Freesat 4K PVR review

Freesat is back and ready to stream with this smart 4K TV recorder

Freesat 4K PVR
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

This smart Freesat set top box is a great choice for satellite TV viewers churning away from premium pay TV.


  • +

    Freesat HD channel choice

  • +

    Netflix 4K streaming with Dolby Atmos

  • +

    No contract required for Freesat services


  • -

    More apps would be welcome

  • -

    No Dolby Atmos from Prime Video app

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

30-second review

What is the Freesat UHD4X? This 4K-ready set top box is an obvious upgrade for dish owners looking to churn away from premium pay TV, or simply replace an ancient satellite receiver. 

The Freesat user interface is intuitive to use, while the quality of recordings is excellent – just like a Sky Q or Virgin V6 box, it’s transparent to source. The provision of top line streaming services and catch-up TV means there’s probably not much incentive to splurge on the more expensive editions with more storage, too, so value is high.

Those of you who primarily use streaming services may want to consider a cheaper streaming device or dongle – while those after an HDMI 2.1 port will be better served by the Humax Aura – but if you still have one foot firmly in terrestrial and satellite television, this could be the set top box for you.

Price and availability

The Freesat UHD-4X is available in three hard drive configurations. Our sample had a 500GB drive, but if you’re intending to download a whole TV show with Series Link, you might want to consider the 1TB or 2TB iterations. The trio offer 125, 250 and 500 hours of HD recording respectively.  

Available now, the 500GB edition sells for £199, with the 1TB priced at £230 and the 2TB at £270.

Freesat 4K PVR

(Image credit: Future)

Design and features

  • HDMI 2.0 output
  • Stylishly compact and quiet to run
  • Freesat tuner and integrated catch-up TV

The UHD-4X is a good-looking, compact (250 x 150 x 35 mm (H x W x D) TV recorder; it won’t hog much space on your AV rack. It’s also whisper quiet. During our testing it was sonically no more intrusive than a Sky Q box. 

And just like the Sky box, it also features dual F-connectors on the rear for terrestrial television. If you only have a single LNB (satellite) feed available, it’ll still work – but you’ll only be able to record one channel at a time. The UHD-4X works with standard, wideband and hybrid LNBs, as well as MDU satellite dish variants that connect to several homes.

In addition to a single HDMI output, there’s a digital optical audio out and Ethernet to support Wi-Fi. The supplied remote control is ergonomically chunky, and has dedicated buttons for BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Netflix and On Demand.

Humax Aura specs

HDD sizes: 500GB, 1TB or 2TB | Tuner: Freesat | 4K: Yes | HDR: Yes | Smart platform: Freesat | Wi-Fi: Yes | Dimensions: 250(w) x 150(h) x 35(d)mm | Weight: 596g | Inputs: 1xHDMI 2.0, Ethernet, optical audio

Just like Freeview Play, Freesat combines a mix of on-demand content, catch-up TV services and linear channels. There’s also a retrospective seven day programme guide, so you can meander backwards over the past week to find shows you might have missed.

Initial installation is fast and straightforward. The box asks for your postcode to ensure correct local coverage. 

The user interface is crisp and clean. The home page offers up a menu left and a selection of curated content to the right. 

If you want to jump to the key catch-up or streamers, use the bespoke buttons (iPlayer, ITV Hub, Netflix and On Demand) on the zapper. An On Demand key press will take you to a wider selection of streaming apps, including My5, STV player, Britbox, Prime Video, UKTV play, BBC sounds and YouTube. The only obvious omissions are All4 and Disney Plus – though a cheap, additional streaming stick should fix that pretty quickly if those apps are important to you.

Freesat 4K PVR menu

(Image credit: Future)


  • 4K HDR streaming 
  • Simultaneous four channel recording
  • No Channel 4 HD

Obviously, for the best possible recordings it’s best to stick to HD services. Freesat offers a fair amount of Hi-Def, amid a sea of SD channels, although the lack of Channel 4 HD is an ongoing irritation.

If you accidentally select the SD iteration of an HD channel, the box prompts you to jump over to the HD alternative.

While the Freesat environment is a walled-garden, the set top box does allow you to take a peek at other (Euro-centric) channels, using a non-Freesat mode. You’ll lose the trapping of the Freesat wrapper though, which is a big unsettling, still it’s interesting to nose around.

Thankfully, restoring Freesat requires just a couple of clicks. While it’s worth a look at the raw satellite feed, you’ll soon come back to the Freesat fold.

Image quality, as we’ve said, is extremely good. Record one of the BBC News HD or NHK (usually the best broadcast HD channels available), and you’ll be hard pushed to tell the difference between live transmissions and recordings. Colour fidelity, sharpness and contrast are subjectively identical. 

If you’re swapping out a Sky box for the Freesat UHD-4X, your wideband LNBs will allow you to record four channels simultaneously. 

The box supports both 4K and HDR, neither of which are available from Freesat channels. However, the box outputs everything in 2160 UHD regardless, although this upscaling doesn’t bring any benefits to Freesat SD. Stream some native 4K Netflix, however, and you’ll see just what the hardware is capable of. The UHD-4X isn’t Dolby vision capable, but regular HDR10 has plenty of visual snap.

It’s worth noting that (currently) the BBC iPlayer app doesn’t support Live UHD sports, but it does play BBC UHD library content, when it’s made available.

Freesat 4K PVR menu

(Image credit: Future)


  • Dolby Audio with Dolby Atmos
  • Acceptable sound
  • Issues hearing Atmos through Amazon Prime Video

The UHD-4X is Dolby Atmos capable, and thus justifies inclusion as a home cinema source. However this is only available via compatible OTT streamers. Playing Okja from Netflix (also in 4K HDR) is gloriously involving – the early sequences of the titular super-pig at play in the Korean forest are subtly immersive. 

The box also does a grand job with high octane action flicks too, when it comes to steerage and dynamics. Overall audio quality is comparable to other media players.

Oddly, the Amazon Prime app didn’t want to stream in Atmos – though there’s relatively little 3D audio on the platform, so it’s not a major problem. Doubtless this will be resolved with a firmware update in due course.

Should I buy the Freesat UHD-4X set-top box?

Buy it if...

You want contract-free viewing
The UHD-4X offers fewer strings than a premium pay TV service like Sky.

You have have access to a satellite feed
Those of you with satellite feed (either a standalone dish or communal feed) rather than a terrestrial aerial will be supported here.

You’re upgrading from an older generic satellite tuner
The UHD-4X offers a no-fuss mix of linear TV and streaming content, and will be a great replacement to update your setup compared to an older tuner.

Don’t buy it if…

You’re a devotee of Channel 4 HD
Channel 4 HD is nowhere to be seen, either as a broadcast channel or catch-up service.

Your primary source of entertainment is streaming
While the UHD-X comes with a decent suite of streaming apps, it shouldn’t be your first port of call for a streaming-first experience.

Steve May
Home entertainment AV specialist

Steve has been writing about AV and home cinema since the dawn of time, or more accurately, since the glory days of VHS and Betamax. He has strong opinions on the latest TV technology, Hi-Fi and Blu-ray/media players, and likes nothing better than to crank up his ludicrously powerful home theatre system to binge-watch TV shows.