EchoStar announces slimmest Freeview HD box

With analogue TV going the way of the dodo in the UK, there is presumably a lot of demand for people who are still enjoying their old, analogue-only TVs, but would like to watch more than just snow when the last UK region switches later this year. Now EchoStar has produced what it says is the slimmest Freeview+ HD box ever. In fact, it claims it's the slimmest digtial TV recorder anywhere in the world at just 14mm tall.

We don't have the resources to fly everywhere and find out if there are slimmer out there, but we're also perfectly happy to take EchoStar at its word - after all, it's never lied to us before, so why would it start now. Plus, a quick look at the photos tell you that this box is very, very slim indeed. It looks like a pancake that's had a protracted fight with a steamroller, and lost.

The recorder has a 500GB hard drive, which should be good for a decent number of Hollyoaks episodes - around 300 hours worth, in SD -  and you'll have 50ish channels to chose from, as well as four in HD. HDMI is a given, but there's also optical S/PDIF to convey audio to an amplifier, should you not be able, or want to, use HDMI. Dolby Digtial Plus audio is supported too.

There are twin tuners, so you can record one thing and watch another, or even record two things, and watch something you've previously recorded. It's all standard Freeview HD+ stuff here, but hopefully the EchoStar's user interface will make it a joy to use. If nothing else, the firm points out, the box will always try to persuade you to watch the HD version of any given programme, which we are pleased to hear.

The box also has net connectivity, to allow you to access various streaming services. The BBC's iPlayer is there, of course, as is BoxOffice365 for movie rentals and PictureBox. EchoStar promises more services in the near future, so we hope Netflix will be along in due course.

You can pre-order from 4 May, but seriously, does anyone pre-order a Freeview box? If you do - no judgement from us - then you can do so at John Lewis, Amazon and Maplin. More high street retailers will get the boxes from the end of May too.



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