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Manhattan Plaza HD S2 review

Andrew Unsworth
12 Oct 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
50
inc VAT

A little rough and ready, but this bargain Freesat HD box gives you lots of entertainment at a low price

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The Manhattan Plaza HD S2 is a compact Freesat HD set-top box that provides users with over 140 TV channels, many radio stations and two on-demand services: BBC iPlayer and ITV Player. Unlike more expensive Freesat HD boxes, such as the excellent Humax HDR-1000S, the Plaza HD S2 doesn’t have a built-in hard disk and can’t record or pause live television. However, the HDR-1000S is five times the price of the Plaza HD S2. Due to its lack of extra PVR features, the Plaza HD S2 is better suited as a satellite set-top box in bedrooms and studies.

Manhattan Plaza HD S2

SETTING UP

It has few connections, with just a single LNB input for connecting the device to your satellite dish, a HDMI output, a SCART output, a digital optical S/PDIF output, an Ethernet port and a USB port. Sadly, the USB port is only used for upgrading the Plaza HD S2’s software, and can’t be used to play media. It may be a cheap set-top box, but it’d be nice to play movies and music and look at photos stored on a USB drives seeing as Manhattan has taken the effort to include a USB port.

The Manhattan Plaza HD S2 can output a variety of resolutions, from standard definition all the way up to Full HD 1080p, so you can enjoy satellite TV no matter what TV you have.

Manhattan Plaza HD S2

Setting up the Plaza HD S2 is as easy as it should be. You attach an LNB cable to the LNB input, switch it on, set the display resolution to your requirements and wait while it scans for channels. The only impediment was entering our post code to set our television region, as you have to input letters using an onscreen number pad, and you have to cycle through letters as you would with an old mobile phone when texting. The process could be a little slow at times and we sometimes entered the wrong character because we overcompensated for delays.

Similarly, the Plaza HD S2’s electronic programme guide (EPG) could be slow to respond to our commands, and we often pressed buttons again because we thought they hadn’t registered with the unit even though they had, which sometimes led to unwanted channel or menu changes. However, this isn’t something that’ll stop you wanting to use the Plaza HD S2.

The EPG can be a little confusing and inconsistent in its operation. Ordinarily, there’s no picture-in-picture (PiP) mode, so you can’t see the channel you’re currently watching when you’re browsing through the EPG, unless you press the list button. Then you can see a picture, but you can’t see the names of the programmes, you must select them to preview them in the PiP window. Also confusing is the way you can hear channels when looking at some screens but not others. Again, it’s something you quickly get used to, but it can be confusing at first.

CATCHING UP

The Plaza HD S2 has only two catch-up TV services: BBC iPlayer and ITV Player. Naturally, we’d prefer it to have 4oD and Demand 5 too, but we’re still content with the two available services, especially when it costs so little. Unfortunately, though, neither service uses the standard interface we’re used to seeing on other smart TVs and set-top boxes. Even though it’s capable of outputting Full HD video, the Plaza HD S2’s catch-up TV services use low-resolution browsers that look cheap and a little unpleasant. Plus, you can’t stream high-definition video, which is again a little disappointing given that it can output at HD resolutions.

Also unlike many other TVs and set-top boxes, you don’t access iPlayer or ITV Player through a button on the remote control or a menu. Instead, you must navigate to their channels through the EPG. This isn’t much of a problem, but it does feel weird.

Manhattan Plaza HD S2

The Manhattan Plaza HD S2 isn’t particularly attractive but it isn’t ugly either, and while its catch-up TV services don’t have the high-quality, high-definition interfaces seen elsewhere, we’re pleased that it has them. The Plaza HD S2 provides you with over 140 television channels, including some that are unavailable on Freeview HD, such as True Movies, the CBS channels and the Horror Channel. It only has a handful of high-definition channels, but that’s the case with Freesat HD in general and £50 is a small amount to pay for the amount of entertainment you receive.

The Manhattan Plaza HD S2 is ideal for people who live in a block of flats, have a communal dish and don’t want to subscribe to Sky, or those who want a Freesat box for a spare room or bedroom. It isn’t perfect, and you’re better off buying the Humax HDR-1000S if you can afford it, but the Manhattan Plaza HD S2 is a bargain Freesat HD box that’s worth buying even if you just want to see what Freesat has to offer.

Details

Price£50
Rating***

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