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EE TV

EE TV review - The ultimate TV streaming box now with Recordings to Go

Richard Easton
30 Mar 2016
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EE TV Box and Remote
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
0
for existing EE Broadband customers

A capable Freeview box with useful multi-device streaming features but the EE TV is still missing key on-demand apps

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Specifications

Tuners: 4x DVB-T, DVB-T2, Dimensions (WxDxH): 200x200x38mm, Networking: Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Internal disk capacity: 1TB, Warranty: One-year RTB, Details: http://ee.co.uk/, Part code: EE TV

EE already provides mobile, broadband and landline services to consumers, so in hindsight a TV service was a logical step. To be honest we were still surprised by the announcement from the primarily-mobile company, but with the new box now available EE customers can use the company for all four of their key media services. That makes it only the second 'Quad-play' offering in the UK, alongside those from Virgin Media.

The set-top box is free to any EE customers who already subscribe to EE Home Broadband and use EE, Orange or T-Mobile as their mobile phone provider. A free EE TV box sounds a rather generous offer on the surface, especially considering EE values it at £300, although accepting it automatically opts you into a new 18 month contract for your broadband and home telephone.

Unlimited ADSL broadband from EE costs £10 a month (£16 for basic 38Mbit/s fibre) and you'll also need to take out line rental, which costs £11 a month if you pay for a year in advance or £16 if you pay monthly. So keep in mind you'll be paying at a minimum £21 a month for a combination of broadband, telephone and television services, excluding the expense of your mobile phone tariff. You can be a pay-as-you-go or contract EE customer, and if you're a PAYG customer there's no minimum top-up required.

EE TV box front

This amounts to at least £377 over the course of an 18-month contract, or £252 a year ongoing. EE retains ownership of the EE TV box, so if you cancel you'll need to give the box back. Still, it's not a bad deal, EE's broadband isn't the cheapest but its low pay-up-front line rental helps balance that out. If you're looking for a new PVR and don't want to splash out the cash on a box then EE could be a good option

EE TV is basically a Freeview box with some clever media streaming extras. HDMI and S-video outputs connect to a display, a pair of phono connections and digital optical output for audio, and you get a remote control that includes the usual functions including media playback controls. We managed to find 146 free-to-air channels from our central London location including radio stations, and there’s also an aerial pass-through connection if you still also want to use your TV's tuner.

You can use either the Gigabit Ethernet port or EE TV’s dual-band 802.11n dual-band Wi-Fi to get online during the setup process, and after a quick channel scan you’re up and running and greeted by the tile-based menus. These are all in EE’s trademark turquoise and yellow colour scheme, so you won’t quickly forget you’re using an EE-branded product.

EE TV Home Screen

Navigating between menus is simple enough, with separate screens dedicated to on-demand, live television and recordings. Live television dedicates a large section to a live view of the last channel you watched, making it easy to jump back into what you’re watching.  It also shows you what is being broadcast on the terrestrial channels.

Moving between menus felt swift and responsive but there’s a lot of horizontal panning between screens and menus. The interface looks and feels like a smartphone or tablet interface and that’s because it is one. Smartphones and tablets running iOS or Android can be used as a touch remote control for the EE TV using the companion app. There’s a unified interface between touch-based devices and the remote control, although using the latter occasionally feels cumbersome. You’re able to browse the television guide using a connected device without disturbing others watching TV, then swipe the content to the big screen, a feature that Virgin's TiVo box also possesses.

EE TV EPG Guide

That's all great, but its main party trick is to stream TV over Wi-Fi to your smartphone or tablet. Amazingly it's able to stream video content to up to four connected devices at once, although that number also includes the television it is connected to. It can stream four different live programmes simultaneously using its four separate tuners unless they're being used for recording other channels, of course. Still, this will be a great feature for families who don’t all want to watch television together. The EE TV box can then act as a hub, serving either live TV or recorded shows to devices around the home.

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