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UPC TV Box

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My review of the new TV box

UPC TV Box

 

I've only had this new box a few days, but thought it worth writing an English language review. I've been with UPC (Cablecom/Liberty/Sunrise...) since coming to Switzerland a few years ago so can only compare it with the previous Horizon box and my knowledge of the Sky HD and Sky Q boxes.

 

Overall, I much prefer it to the Horizon box. If you're a long term UPC customer and prepared to sign a new 12 month contract, a polite phone call to support is likely to get the activation fee waived.

 

The actual swap is easy. Use the HDMI cable supplied with the UPC box instead of the Horizon one as it's made to a higher standard and might be needed for 4K. I don't have a 4K TV so don't know for sure.

 

Two important things to bear in mind:

1. The recordings on your Horizon box stay there and nowhere else, so you'll lose them.
2. For reasons I don't understand, replay can't go back prior to it being activated on the UPC box. So watch all of the programmes you've recently missed before pulling the plug on your Horizon box!


The good

 

- It boots up faster. Much faster.

 

- Once booted, even in "Eco (slow start)" mode, the TV turns on in 5-10 seconds.

 

- The menus are FAST. Changing channels is also fast.

 

- There's an (undocumented?) "go to previous channel" function, activated by pressing the "TV" button while already watching TV. Great for bouncing between two channels waiting for the adverts to finish on one.

 

- The box is small, quiet and doesn't get hot.

 

- Voice control works well once you suss it. Saying "BBC one" does nothing but saying "BBC one HD" turns quickly to the channel. As would just saying "201" for example.

 

- Good RF control using a programmable remote. I use Logitech Harmony.

 

- Online or using a phone app, recordings can be programmed using the TV guide even if your box is off (as recordings don't use the box any more).

 

The bad

 

These negatives probably won't bother most people.

 

- There are Dolby Digital/Audio bugs. If you don't connect the box to an AVR (or decent soundbar) you won't care. Replay or playing back recordings seem to drop from dolby digital to stereo. Also, the box lies and tells a connected AVR that the signal is dolby digital even when (most of the time) the programme is transmitted only in stereo. This stops the AVR applying any up-mixing which means the centre speaker (good for clear speech) and the rear surrounds aren't used. At the moment I'm turning "Dolby Audio" off until the bug is fixed.  There's a huge thread on this in the German section here, so I'm sure it'll be fixed at some point.

 

- HDMI-CEC. If you don't know what this is, then you'll simply like the fact that the TV (and AVR if connected) turns on and off with the UPC TV remote. If you use an activity-based remote, or switch video inputs in an AVR, this can randomly cause havoc. I've had no sound, a dark picture, the UPC box turning off after a few seconds etc ... These can typically be fixed, temporarily at least, by powering everything off and back on again.

 

- You need functioning internet for replay and recordings to work. There seems to have been an issue (see the German language section of this forum) where UPC's servers threw a wobbly and basically trashed people's recordings. Ouch.

 

- There's slightly less control compared to the Horizon box. So far, I've noticed that the auto-standby can't be disabled and the skip forwards/backwards can't be changed from 30s (although the voice control can work wonders - "skip back 2 minutes").