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BT Mini YouView Box review – free with TV Starter

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £100

A neat way to give an old TV a smart upgrade, but the the BT Mini YouView Box has no media streaming and no Wi-Fi


Tuners: 1x Freeview HD (YouView), Dimensions (WxDxH): 130x130x35mm, Networking: Gigabit Ethernet, Internal disk capacity: N/A, Warranty: One-year RTB, Details:, Part code: 78930

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When YouView was launched, the TV platform was never exclusively designed just for PVRs, although that’s all we’ve seen to date. BT changes that with its Mini YouView Box (also know as the Zapper), the first set-top box that we’ve seen that gives you YouView without the ability to record.

In many ways, this product can be thought of as a competitor to Apple TV or Chromecast, upgrading your TV into a smart one. This is reinforced by the fact that it’s available as a standalone product, so you can buy it regardless as to whether or not you have BT broadband or not.

See all of the best BT TV package deals deals on uSwitch

BT broadband customers get a little extra if they sign up for a TV package, which adds the BT Player to YouView for on-demand movies, TV and music. To get the Mini YouView box, BT customers can either sign up for a basic package and get the box for free, or it can be added to an existing package and be used alongside the BT YouView+ box to add multi-room BT TV for £5 a month.


Size-wise, the BT Mini YouView Box is a small square box that’s a little larger than the Apple TV, although still small and discrete enough to tuck neatly out of the way. On the rear are an HDMI output, USB port (not used), aerial socket and an Ethernet port.

BT Mini YouView Box rear

Unfortunately, you have to use Ethernet, as Wi-Fi is not built in and there’s no USB wireless adaptor available. If you put the box out of cable range of your router, your only option is to buy a HomePlug powerline networking kit. This is quite frustrating, as a box like this for most people is likely to be used in bedroom or kitchen, where Wi-Fi would be a far more convenient method of connecting it.

Once everything’s hooked up, you just have to power the YouView Box on and follow the on-screen instructions to automatically scan for channels. It only takes a few minutes and then you can dive into the YouView interface.


One of the main uses of the BT Mini YouView Box is for watching TV. Given that this isn’t a PVR that may seem a little pointless, doubling up on the features that your TV no-doubt already has. Bear with us, as it actually makes a lot of sense.

For starters, this box has a Freeview HD tuner inside, so you can upgrade a TV that only has an SD digital tuner to receive HD channels. Secondly, it may not be a PVR, but the built-in memory means that you can still pause and rewind live TV. There’s enough storage to store up to around 30 minutes of an SD channel or 15 minutes of an HD channel, which is more than enough time to answer the door, finish cooking or make a telephone call. This is another brilliant reason to use this box over your TV’s built-in tuner.

BT Mini YouView Box pause live TV

You may notice that the remote control has a Record button on it, as it’s the same remote that BT ships with its YouView+ box; however, it just brings up a warning icon on the TV, letting you know that you can’t use this option. Cleverly, the My View menu, which displays recordings, has also been removed.

BT Mini YouView Box remote control

Beyond that, you also get the brilliant YouView EPG. This is one of the best in the business, pulling in its content from online. This gives you more information than a regular EPG does, plus additional content, such as being able to see when showings of the same show are on. As well as being able to step forwards in time, you can step backwards through the EPG and watch programmes that are available via one of the on-demand services (BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand Five). It’s this seamless integration of live and on-demand TV that sets YouView apart from its competition.

BT Mini YouView Box EPG Info

This integration is throughout the box. So, when the EPG suggests other episodes of a programme that you select, these can be live or via the on-demand service. As well as accessing on-demand content by stepping back in time through the EPG, each player also has its own app. This gives you access to a wider back catalogue of content from each provider. Essentially, from here you get the same range of content as you would by going to each TV channel’s website.


One of the aims of YouView was to provide a platform that could be extended, adding new players and services. Since launch, we’ve had the addition of the excellent pay-as-you-go Sky Now TV service, which can get you cheap access to the broadcaster’s top channels, including Sky Atlantic for Game of Thrones, Sky Sports and Sky Movies.

BT Mini YouView Box Players

Netflix is a more recent addition to the platform, giving you access to thousands of TV shows and movies for £6.99 a month in HD. With a little bit of tweaking, you can even get the box to access US Netflix in the UK, giving you an even wider range of titles to choose from. There’s no Amazon Prime Instant Video support, but this service is generally not very well supported: you can get it on Apple TV by using AirPlay from your phone or tablet, but not on Chromecast.

Impressively, all of the players are integrated into YouView’s search, so you can find on-demand and live content all through the same interface. YouView also has channels for content, such as films, children’s programmes and music, letting you discover top picks, no matter which service they’re on. Our one minor complaint is that you’ll get shown content for services that you don’t pay for and haven’t subscribed to.

BT Mini YouView Box search


The one area where the Mini YouView Box really differs from its main competition is that there’s no way to beam other content to it. For example, you can stream videos, music and photos using Plex to Apple TV and Chromecast, but there’s no way of doing something similar with YouView.

Given the AirPlay and Cast technology in Apple TV and Chromecast respectively, it means that both of these products are technically easier to add services to; a company just needs to add support from its mobile app so that you can beam the content to your TV. That’s it in practice, but support for Apple TV and Chromecast isn’t as wide as we’d hope and YouView firmly beats both for service support via its built-in support.


If you hook the YouView box up to a BT Broadband connection and you’ve got a TV package with the company, you also get the BT Player. This is accessible through the YouView menu or by hitting the big BT Player button on the remote control. Through this app, you get access to a range of on-demand programming, including TV box-sets and movies for free. On top of that you can rent or buy movies in SD or HD, streaming them directly over your internet connection.

BT Mini YouView Box YouView Menu

With the base level package you get BT Sport for free, which is streamed over the internet to your YouView box. However, upgrade to the TV Entertainment package (currently £5 a month for six months, rising to £7.45 plus £35 activation fee) and you get additional streamed TV channels, which appear in your box’s EPG. These include History, Animal Planet, Discovery and SyFy. On top of that you can add more internet channels, including Sky Sports 1 and 2. At this point, though, you can get the BT YouView+ box, which has two tuners and can record shows as well, for free.

BT Mini YouView Box IP Channels


Untangling whether or not the BT Mini YouView Box is worth buying or not really depends on what you want and if you have BT broadband or not. If you don’t have it, then £100 nets you a decent smart TV upgrade for an older TV, which also gives you all of the big on-demand services, plus Now TV and Netflix. With the ability to pause live TV, it’s a great upgrade for anyone that doesn’t need to record TV. Not being able to stream to it is a little disappointing for some, and means that the Apple TV or Chromecast would still be needed for local media.

If you’ve got BT Broadband, the choice suddenly becomes a lot easier. Existing customers can get the TV Starter package for free, including this box for nothing, with a one-off activation fee of £35 – that’s incredible value. If you’ve already got a BT TV subscription and YouView+ box, then you can pay an extra £5 a month to get this box for a second room, plus TV Anywhere streaming for your tablet or smartphone. Again, it’s great value if you want to upgrade a second TV somewhere else in your house.

Overall, as good as this box is, it’s still not a single do-everything box for all types of media and the lack of Wi-Fi, particularly if you pay full-price for it, is a little disappointing. See all of the best BT TV package deals deals on uSwitch

Tuners1x Freeview HD (YouView)
Accessories providedRemote control, HDMI cable
Dimensions (WxDxH)130x130x35mm
Audio outputsNone
Video outputs1x HDMI 1.4
Video inputsNone
NetworkingGigabit Ethernet
USB ports1x USB2 (not used)
Memory card readerNone
Video playback formatsN/A
Image viewing formatsN/A
Audio playback formatsN/A
Smart TV appsBBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD, Demand Five, Now TV, Netflix, BT Player
Recording mediaNone (live pause only)
Internal disk capacityN/A
Hours of recording on internal mediaN/A
Simultanous channel recordingN/A
Buying information
Price including VAT£100
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Part code78930