Dan Howdle | November 24th, 2022
Up until recently, BT TV deals came with the somewhat creaking YouView and YouView+ set-top boxes. And although there was even a 4K version on its top-end TV packages, it was tailing behind competitors, with both Sky and Virgin Media having offered feature-laden 4K boxes for quite some time now.
This is where BT's previous YouView boxes struggled: Having the latest features. And the new features found on the BT TV Box Pro aren't just limited to high-fidelity picture and sound – though, 4K, HDR and Dolby Atmos sound are all present and correct. No, the box acts much more like a Roku, or Apple TV designed to work in harmony with your BT TV subscription. Those features will be great for watching BT Sport Ultimate, which broadcasts its sports events in glorious 4K.
That means you'll be able to download your own apps onto the box – BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Britbox and many more. You'll be able to keep all your subscriptions in one place, and all your channels in the same box. No switching between devices necessary.
The BT TV Box Pro has in interesting, mixed take on providing live TV channels. You won't need an aerial for almost all your regular terrestrial channels, from BBC1 to Dave. You'll just need an internet connection.
However, BT has still included an aerial socket on the box, because there are a few Freeview channels you can't yet stream over the internet. If you need those, you can book a BT engineer to install the aerial for you – sadly, it's not something you can do yourself, but it's nice that the option is there.
Although there is a bit of an exodus towards content-on-demand (think Netflix), where you fire up your box and spend the next hour or so choosing something to watch, lots of households still watch live TV, especially during family time. And let's not forget, if you're not watching your favourite sport live, you're going to figure out a way of watching it later (and hopefully avoiding spoilers in the meantime).
That's where the BT TV Box Pro nicely brings together the old and new. A Roku or Apple TV can play content from all sorts of services, but if you want to record something showing now to watch later, you're stuffed. And this is where subscription TV services still have the edge in our opinion. You won't run out of space fast on the BT TV Box Pro. With up to 600 hours of space to record your favourite shows, movies and sporting events.
You can record up to two programmes at once and also pause and rewind live shows.
The BT TV Box Pro reminds us a lot of the Sky Q set-top box, with its low profile and fingerprint-attractive dark plastic sheen. Importantly, it's much smaller than its YouView predecessor – less old-school VCR-sized and much easier to fit into a variety of tighter spaces.
The unit has no front, digital display, with only a single LED on the front to indicate its on/off state. This should keep things less distracting and more cinematice when you want to turn the lights down.
Not that you'd remember unless you're a set-top box and broadband fanatic like us, but previous to the BT TV Box Pro you'd get a different set-top box from BT depending on which TV package you subscribed to. The problem wasn't that you'd ever run into any issues with your chosen subscription, but if you wanted to upgrade that did throw a spanner in the works since you would have potentially needed a new box.
Not so now. One box to rule them all. Very sensible stuff this from BT. It means that if you want to upgrade your package, you already have hardware that's fully capable, meaning upgrades can be instantaneous.
It's hard to say how the new BT TV Box Pro will perform compared to competitors the Sky Q and the Virgin 360 box. But at the very least, BT's new box is up there with the best of them, and you no longer need to subscribe to a top-end BT TV package just to get the best box. Everyone gets this, and it does everything you could possibly need it to. It's a thumbs up from us.