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EchoStar Ultra Slim Box: Hands-on and first impressions

Echostar’s Ultra Slim Box is a Freeview HD set top box that’s claiming the title of the World’s Thinnest PVR.

It’s certainly a skinny little thing – almost as slim as the Apple iPhone 4, which at one point held the title for being the world’s slimmest smartphone. Cased in aluminum it’s got a solid, premium feel which also dissipates heat better than a plastic shell would. We were told that the Ultra Slim Box survived having a Yellow Pages stacked on top for a whole afternoon. As the power source is external, much of the heat is generated outside the box itself. 

It’s not all about its looks though. While it is indeed a very slim and portable piece of kit (it’s about the size of a netbook) there’s a twin tuner (record up to two programmes at once) series link recording, HDMI out and is 1080p and 720p compatible.

The 8-day EPG looks like a standard Freeview programme guide but intelligently reshuffles any recording clashes by automatically searching for repeat showings on +1/timeshift channels.

We got to have a quick play with the Ultra Slim Box and explore its features. We liked that in the settings menu you can change the transparency of the menus themselves, so you can still see what’s going on in the background while you’re setting recordings.

Sadly the apps sections of the menu wasn’t live; this is where you’ll be able to access things like BBC iPlayer plus Box Office 365 and Picturebox on-demand movies. You’ll need to have your Echostar Ultra Slim Box connected to the net (natch, there’s an Ethernet port round the back) for this to work, so make sure your broadband connection can handle it.

The Echostar Ultra Slim Box is due to hit the shelves of John Lewis and Maplin at the end of the month. Amazon currently has the Ultra Slim Box down at £259.99, with the 31st of May down as the release date.