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back to article YouView: You're delayed - Sugar

The YouView set-top box won’t be on sale in time for the Olympics, according to a report. Baron Sugar of Clapton, aka Alan Sugar, the chairman of the consortium, doesn’t deem the technology ready for prime time. YouView originated in 2008 at the BBC as ‘the iPlayer in hardware’, a disruptive ploy to bring internet apps and …

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Kill it

Another proud British platform bites the dust. HbbTVs all round.

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Anonymous Coward

Alan Sugar?

I thought his first name was Sralan?

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Re: Alan Sugar?

Darth Sugar surely?

I'm off for a lie-down on the shock news that Amstrad have a quality control department.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Alan Sugar?

Unfortunately, the pun in that one will be understandable only to Eastern Europeans (sans Hungary).

For the less linguistically endowed amidst the el Reg readership: Sral, srali, etc in most Slavic languages means Sh** (both as a verb and as a noun).

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Re: Alan Sugar / Amstrad quality control department?

Nothing to do with Amstrad quality control since

a) Lord Sugar sold Amstrad to BSkyB

b) YouView didn't go to BSkyB for their kit

The kit manufacturers are listed here, though I think Technicolor may have pulled out

http://www.youview.com/industry/devices/partners/

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Facepalm

Re: Alan Sugar / Amstrad quality control department?

Im confused whenever he's linked to tech these days. Why are we acting like the man is a CEO Tech genius after the utter clusterfuck that was him ploughing Amstrad into the ground over the emailer? Its all a bit Walter Mitty, isnt it? I mean, arent successful business tycoons... you know. business-ing, rather than doing pointless TV shows?

everytime I hear of him burrowing into the BBC like a tick looking for blood I wonder who the hell buys into his particular brand of "Im a genius, innit" logic.

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Silver badge

... miss Olympics 2012 deadline

Never mind. There'll be another olympic deadline along in another 4 years. I'm sure that with enough effort and hard work, they'll be able to miss that one, as well.

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Anonymous Coward

"Sugar still doesn’t consider the box ready for public consumption"

Given the devices he has considered to be "ready for public consumption" then this one must be really really bad!

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Silver badge

ob Dilbert quote:

Our new backup software isn't quite ready to ship.

All it does now is erase all your date

Unless you're on a network - then it erases everyone's data

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WTF?

ready for public consumption

It aint guna be ready according to Sir Sugar Daddy until it has the ability to send email via a big LCD screen the sticks out the top of the box and the facility to display annoying adverts downloaded from a premium rate telephone line via a built in 56kbps modem!

Also, the version with built in PVR capabilities, saves it's recordings on non-standard 3 inch floppy drives that Al got cheap off some Japanese bloke down the pub last week!

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Anonymous Coward

What Platform

Its gonna be dead on arrival. With so much choice (enough of Freeview around) and not enought time, who cares about the platform? And at what price point would one want a glorified hardware Iplayer ?

By the looks of it, it will dish out endless repeats as a PVR-like service. Any premium channels will HAVE to be subscribed or Pay per View. So where's the attraction for new punters to switch to this platform and pay £200 - 300 for the box AND ALSO have unlimited internet data plans to avail of this IPTV services?

Youview have lost the plot long ago.

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Quelle surprise

Wow, an update of the Em@iler idea of moving something into a dedicated bit of hardware. And again, it's shonky, late and lacking in features compared to what people expect now.

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Anonymous Coward

Give it another 18 months and most people will have smart TV's anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

Err?

No, they won't. People tend to buy TVs which last for about 10-15years. Many TVs sold in the last five years, even the ones which have ethernet connections, will never get updates for iplayer. People want dedicated iptv functionality, like youview.

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WTF?

Re: Err?

Unless the person has bought: a blu-ray player (from almost anyone), a PS3, an Xbox, a net box or probably a dozen other product categories.

iPlayer capable Sony Blu-ray player for £70: http://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/sony-bdp-s380b-blu-ray-player-09809582-pdt.html

Expected price of Youview box £200-£300

Humax's product that may be of similar hardware to a Youview box is £260 at the same store: http://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/humax-hdr-fox-t2-freeview-hd-recorder-500gb-07289192-pdt.html

The Youview concept is not a dedicated IPTV device either. It is a hybrid Freeview HD PVR/IPTV device but annual sales of standalone PVRs (not including Sky's subsidised Sky+/Sky HD) are tiny compared with TV sales so that platform will never get enough users to

I would be very interested to hear from "People" who "want dedicated iptv functionality" as I don't believe that they exist outside of those employed by telcos or working on Youview. "People" want good cheap TV content on their TV. IPTV (dedicated or not) is one mechanism for delivering that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Err?

Actually, they don't. How many consumers 'want dedicated iptv functionality'? People just want to watch content in an easily discoverable way. Usually, this means Freeview, Sky or Virgin, with a bit of iPlayer and YouTube on the laptop.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Err?

Bollocks to that, I download all my shit from TPB.

Eh? What? ,,, damn!

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Facepalm

Another nail in the coffin of Homechoice

TalkTalk TV, the rebranded Homechoice service, has been tied to this dying attempt at mass market IPTV for the past two years, whilst the userbase has drifted away thanks to lack of ADSL 2+ support, HD channels, Red Button services and all sorts of other bits and pieces that Sky, Virgin and even BT Vision users have taken for granted for years. The best IPTV service the UK had is now all but dead thanks to YouView, since TalkTalk themselves have closed the service to new users until YouView appears. Now this deadline is passing it's time to just close the doors.

Great planning TalkTalk guys. Seriously. Everyone give yourselves a big pat on the back.

Idiots.

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'doesn’t deem the technology ready for prime time.'

Lol, last time he said that was the end of his computer business.

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Not exactly out of the computer business

He is still in the computer business. Although he sold Amstrad to Sky, he still owns Viglen who are mainly involved in the education & public sector arena.

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Gil

IPTV

So with ANOTHER youview delay, and the demise of Fetch TV, what other serious IPTV options are there that aren't affiliated with an ISP?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IPTV

The D-Book 7 spec allows Freeview boxes to provide catchup programmes on demand via a programme guide that goes backwards up to 7 days. So, exactly what Youview was meant to do, except for the pay-per-view premium stuff that 80% of people don't want.

Homechoice was great but Talktalk decided to run it into the ground, leaving them with no TV service while Youview was developed. In a world of Now TV, Tivo, Lovefilm Instant, Netflix and even YouTube on smart TVs and Apple TV, Youview is an irrelevant money pit for these ISPs.

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Did I miss something here?

Maybe I've missed an important detail somewhere, but why (in basic terms) would this box need to be anything much fancier than e.g. a chopped-down PC/console with a browser and a flash plugin?

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Re: Did I miss something here?

You missed the bit, as far as I have understood it, about YouView using native apps which are inevitably tied to the architecture of the box.

Not HTML, not Java, not Flash, not MHEG, not MHP, not HbbTV.

Compiled code (delivered via MHEG extenstions) admittedly written against a standard Linux API set (starting with DirectFB and working upwards), which each participant will presumably develop separately for their own part of the service and which potentially need to be compiled and tested for each of the many and varied* hardware platforms implementing the YouView standard.

*Raucous laughter is permitted at this point.

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FAIL

How long does it take....

...to cobble together a bunch of off the shelf components that back in 2008 maybe cost £50 but now in 2012 sit on one £5 chip?

Or are they deliberating on how awful and unusable they can make the UI as seems to be the norm with such devices?

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Re: How long does it take....

Why cobble them together at all , isn;t a Rasberry/Pi just about cheap enough ( in volume) for the job

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I am confused. How technically difficult is the YouView objective to achieve? Not so very me thinks.

I think there be a sub-plot behind the endless delays that tis more about not being accused of launching a platform that is so easy, agreeable to the public and focal of free content that it all but corners and stifles the market. Pay to view and cable content providers can see the monster on the horizon. A platform that works, that is stuffed with free content and provides an open pathway to each and every independent provider (including you and me) will kill 9/10th of their lucrative captive market.

YouView is the BBC: disguised in the outfits of its slowly dying terrestrial broadcast mates. Sky have begrudgingly appeared to the table late on but until the News International Murdoch 'phone hacking' debacle reaches its termination and the wooden stake is finally hammered home, they will not risk a launch; for fear it will all end-up in court where the international media power players may well then rule the day.

Between times they will stall even at the apparent cost of market share: if only because by allowing the market to commence and develop they cannot stand accused of monopolising it from the outset.

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Boffin

@EUbrainwashing - Overcomplexity, design errors and too many cooks

Outsider's view:

I don't think that there is any deliberate slowdown in the project, just mistakes, bureaucracy, lawyers, personnel departures and disagreements.

There seem to be several key design errors starting with the level of abstraction that the Youview platform UI will operate at and the requirement for hard disk products. I think that applications may also have far too low level access to the hardware and the system although I haven't studied closely.

Too much effort also seems to have gone into bandwidth use minimisation strategies (trying to support multicast, speculative recording etc. rather than just telling ISPs to get their act together and content providers to just get a CDN to distribute it.

But the main problem in technical development has been to keep the partners happy. In a number of areas telco interests will have opposed the content providers wanting options to strike their own deals on their own networks and offer prioritised traffic. Commercial content providers will have wanted extensive advertising support features and guarantees of placement in the UI. Occasionally the technical partners who are expecting to actually make the boxes will have been let into the room to explain how impractical the requirements and plans from the consortium are. And everybody can disagree about the background colour of home screen. Then the lawyers come in and set some more restrictions.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @EUbrainwashing - Overcomplexity, design errors and too many cooks

Another outsider's view -

As I understand it, each content provider (BBC, ITV, TalkTalk, etc) has a Flash-based player application and that's it. I don't think the Flash (Stagecraft) player can do terribly much and all communication is through the message bus so I'd be surprised if you could do anything too low level.

With regard bandwidth management, I suspect a lot of this has to do with trying to deliver a good user experience on the sort of broadband line that is shamed by real world 3G speeds (despite living in the capital of our mighty nation, the best BT Openreach can manage on my line is about 3Mbps). They want to be able to sell boxes in Currys and for them to work with no QoS... which could be tricky, but they knew that 3 years ago!

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Facepalm

Re: @EUbrainwashing - Overcomplexity, design errors and too many cooks

I forgot to mention Flash as an architectural/design error. It didn't seem ridiculous 3 years ago but now even Adobe is pulling back support and it will be interesting to see what platforms they will continue to port it to.

However the actual spec imagines a whole selection of runtime environments. So many standards to choose from:

"Runtime environment for the execution of Applications. Examples could be Flash player, MHEG engine, W3C browser." Youview Core Technical Specification 1.0 page 173

I think this sort of kitchen sink, maximum choice for content providers and sort the integration issues later is exactly why they are having problems delivering.

D'oh for specifying Flash.

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Thumb Down

"A senior source told The Sunday Telegraph..."

No news, so we make some sh*t up then

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Anonymous Coward

It's pretty pointless - many modern blu-ray players and other set top boxes include this type of iPlayer / IP functionality already (and more) and for just £60-100. They may as well just do a deal with Apple to add iPlayer to their Apple TV boxes and forthcoming 'TV'.

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Anonymous Coward

He's waiting for his shipments of Raspberry Pi - slap it in a box - charge 3x as much - done.

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Anonymous Coward

Aquiva, fer feck's sake

"...consortium, whose members include terrestrial UK broadcasters, BT and TalkTalk and Aquiva..."

I'm not sure which I find more contemptably risible; the nobbers who shoehorn the word "solutions" into their company name, or the equally twattish trend for pseudo-latin sounding monickers like Consignia, Aviva, Aquiva... etc.

When I hear one of the latter, I'm always reminded of Vic Reeves on Shooting Stars, shouting "VOO-VA-VOO!"

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Anonymous Coward

IIRC

It was 'Iranu' for a silly prize, 'Uvavu' for an incorrect answer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IIRC

<pedant>

Eranu

</pedant>

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FAIL

I had the audacity to move house in 2010 and was told that Tiscali/TalkTalk would be more than happy to transfer my phone and broadband, but I could suck a lemon if I wanted my TV because they were no longer installing it, not even for existing customers. Instead, I could sign up now and get TV when it became available 'in the near future'.

Given the delays, I'm glad I was smart enough to see that this was not going to go well, and switched to Virgin. Now I've got Tivo, it's possibly one of the best decisions I ever made.

Never mind Tiscali/TalkTalk, one day you will have TV services again. Of course, by the time that happens , no one will care.

Fail - do you really need to ask?

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Anonymous Coward

BT Vision

If I understand it correctly*, BT should be upgrading its BT Vision service (which I use) to YouView, but they might have an in-house alternative. If nothing else, they need to get Freeview HD up and running asap.

Does anyone have any news on that front?

* I won't be surprised if I'm completely wrong. I don't think many understand what BT is doing, and BT isn't saying much

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Devil

Re: BT Vision

Existing hardware won't support Freeview HD and there is no software upgrade possible to support DVB-T2 on DVB-T hardware. It might theoretically be possible to upgrade the software in other respects but I expect that the boxes are probably too limited (CPU and memory) to provide a good experience (only a guess based a weak understanding of when they were introduced and typical hardware at the time).

BT is in the Youview consortium and I think it was hoping for Youview to do much of the work in developing it's next generation box and marketing it for it. I have no idea to what extent they will subsidise an upgrade programme for existing customers. It is probably the best chance Youview has at decent numbers.

I don't understand what BT is doing but the big question is "Do BT understand what they are doing in the video market?"

Spawn of satan - that is the correct icon for BT isn't it?

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FAIL

Doomed

Youview is now heading towards 3 years late compared to the initial Canvas plans and will have missed the entire Digital Switchover, and the selling peaks of the 2010 World Cup, 2012 Olympics, 2012 Euro Cup and two or three Christmases depending on when it finally launches (if it does). Samsung, Sony and other TV manufacturers will have shipped millions of units each by then never mind the Xboxes and PS3s already shipped and it becomes even more clear that Youview will not have opportunity to build a platform of scale (especially if it is still a STB/hard disk only solution).

The only humane thing to do with the project is consider the money burnt and to kill it now before any more money is wasted. Can someone please say "Lord Sugar - You're Fired!"? The initial plan was for about £100M to be raised collectively by the partners to be largely spent on promotion and advertising. I don't know how much has gone on development and to what extent some of that may be off the books (e.g. on the BBC's books) but someone really needs to say STOP.

@Dave 150

In practical terms even if the Telegraph article is in some way wrong the Olympics has already been missed as the big retailers like the initial stocks of new in before Easter to fully distribute and inform staff about before the peak (Euro Cup/World Cup) sales start (and the Olympics may also make a difference as they are in the UK but they don't usually have a significant impact on TV sales). Also note that the latest 'news' on the Youview website is from last September and regards publication of policies which to me would indicate a project not making much effort to build attention for launch.

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I still think YouView will be a huge success

It’s a shame that YouView has been delayed again but I still think it will be a huge success. I think the naysayers are rather missing the point. Yes you can BBC iPlayer on *some* smart TV’s but what about 4OD, iTV player, 5 onDemand and what about people who have older TVs?

YouView set top boxes will offer an integrated Freeview and IPTV experience through a single EPG and will have built in PVR functionality. Put another way you can schedule PVR recordings and also catch up on things you missed using the same EPG and a seamless mix of broadcast and IPTV. Add to that DLNA capability, an apps ecosystem with the potential for online video rental stores and other broadcasters to join the party, that fact that it’ll be subscription free and also available on the web, and that the price of the set top box hardware will only get cheaper, it makes for quite a compelling package.

The reason people tend to be ambivalent about smart TV is that it’s so fragmented. What people want is all their TV/Video content in one place and YouView is the only platform that will offer the subscription free UK terrestrial TV that UK audiences want and all the other Smart TV / PVR functionality in a single package.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I still think YouView will be a huge success

Wow, someone's been wowed by the powerpoint at the trade shows!

A lot of what you say is true - in theory. But in practice, who is going to pay for a box that will just give them catchup and another freeview receiver (when the chances are they'll have some already)? The only way I see any premium (= paid for) content being bought is if you buy your box from Talktalk or BT. The rest is catchup content available elsewhere already and it won't be long before Freeview+ HD boxes have built in catchup capabilities.

And no telco in its right mind wants its customers phoning up because they can't get their so-called DLNA bedroom telly working with their so-called DLNA Youview box. And no one really uses apps on TVs. Not unless you spend a fortune sticking bluetooth in there for wireless game controllers and keyboards.

There's certainly fragmentation in Smart TVs and there's a solution that all of Europe has adopted. HbbTV.

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WTF?

Re: I still think YouView will be a huge success

Which of the consortium members or technical partners do you work for?

Even if Youview boxes are (insanely) great if they ever launch the market for £200+ devices to connect to your TV is miniscule compared to the market for TVs themselves. This will lead to small sales numbers and limited interest from content providers beyond the consortium. Unless big push and big subsidies from the telcos are applied but I'm not expecting that they will do much better than they have over the past decade.

Launched in 2010 Youview and able to catch switchover and Freeview HD sales and build a platform and services it would have had a chance to make a start and work towards a non-hard disk based version to work in TV's by now to be really scaring Samsung with. Additionally in 2010 there wasn't the iPad to compete with for consumers discretionary tech spending. As it is that ship has sailed and I see very little possibility for Youview to reach critical mass. Actually the sooner it launches and fails commercially the sooner I think you will see ITV and Channel 4 launching on the existing growing platforms (Samsung and Sony in particular although possibly Panasonic too).

Now unless ITVPlayer or 4OD are critical you could get a 32" TV with iPlayer, Demand5, Lovefilm, Mubi, Muzu and a number of other services and DLNA for under £300. http://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/sony-bravia-kdl-32cx523-full-hd-32-lcd-tv-09759051-pdt.html It can also record Freeview HD content if you add a hard disk (although admittedly it is only single tuner so isn't a full PVR replacement).

I actually have all the catch up services on the TV now, Sony TVs and Blu-ray players have iPlayer and Demand 5 and the PS3 has iPlayer, ITVPlayer and 4 OD. A PS3 AND a Sony Blu-ray player could be purchased now for less than the price a Youview box is likely to launch at. There is rarely anything that makes it worth me suffer the ITV and Channel4 interfaces and adverts to switch on the PS3 and watch them there. I use the Demand5 service for some children's programmes.

Admittedly a consistent UI would be a benefit across different services on a platform but the content providers all want to have a consistent UI across their service on all platforms. I'm afraid that the flexibility offered by Youview might lead to it being a very disjointed experience. Big screen UI's are increasingly being moved to mobile apps (at least optionally) to allow easier text entry for searching and that sort of thing, I haven't heard any plans for Youview to support this type of capability.

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Re: I still think YouView will be a huge success

I've never seen a YouView powerpoint, I'm just a regular consumer, although I do work in video/audio/web for a University so I have a passing interest in the app ecosystem.

I think it all depends upon the price point of the STBs and the usability of the EPG. If the EPG is as good as they’ve promised and people get used to the web version then I can see them wanting the same experience in the lounge on their TV. I believe they also plan to integrate the service into TVs in which case there would be no need for a separate set top box.

In terms of apps I was thinking more along the lines of Netflix and LoveFilm rather than games etc.

You say that the rest of the catch-up content is available elsewhere but is it available on the TV in the lounge? I can get BBC iPlayer through my TV and possibly 4OD on my xbox but the interface is lousy and I still can’t get iTV player or 5 OnDemand. What I really want is everything all in one place so I’m patiently waiting for the new Humax YouView PVR before I upgrade my existing PVR.

Thanks for the heads up on HbbTV, that’s new to me and it looks interesting.

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Re: I still think YouView will be a huge success

wow paranoia! I work for a University in video/audio/web and I have no affiliation with YouView at all.

I've used some of the TV manufacturers Smart TV functions and they're generally awful. Even the BBC iPlayer on my brand new Panansonic TV is a pain the backside. Streaming via iPad and Apple TV is also woeful user experience. It's all way too fragmented and disjointed, one device for this, another for that, and a myriad different UIs. What I and I suspect most other users want is one device and one interface for everything.

I agree that's it all dependent on a usable consistent UI and the price point of the STBs but I think YouView has the content and the backing to be a success.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I still think YouView will be a huge success

And therein lies Youview's failing! That fragmentation and those myriad user interfaces are what is trying to be sledgehammered into a consistent environment.

You have TalkTalk and BT (competitors) trying to get their own requirements into the platform without telling each other what they want (impossible). Likewise the broadcasters.

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Boffin

Re: I still think YouView will be a huge success

Sorry, I just guessed you were close to the project because almost all of the people I've met believing Youview will be a big success do work on the project in some capacity (they are genuinely enthusiastic about it but they seem to lack CE industry understanding, those on the manufacturer side are a little more realistic about market potential but do like the product and expect a boosted position in the PVR market which is tiny compared with TV sales).

I don't think that Youview will give a consistent cross service UI (although there might be some cross site search and possibly the backwards EPG) but the content providers all want their own UI (however horrible and inconsistent with the platform). There is also the risk that Youview decide to change the UI at any future time.

Youview might have the content and the backing to be a success but the £200+ PVR is a fundamentally niche product. Even if Youview sweeps away the rest of the high end PVR market it still won't ever get close to catching up Samsung and Sony in connected TV numbers. Unless Youview develop a TV profile without significant internal storage AND get a major TV manufacturer onboard (LG is the obvious choice who have the ability to scale and are probably currently in a weaker content position).

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Viglen

I bought from Viglen. Once. Over my objections. I was forced to. Never again.

Quoted 6 week delay from ordering to delivery and the system didn't work when it finally arrived after 12 weeks (Never mind that 2 weeks of that quoted delay is supposed to be burn in testing, it wouldn't even complete the bios sequence!)

Identical orders from other suppliers showed up, working out of the box, in 12 days and for significantly less outlay.

This is far from a unique experience. Given Viglen is just a whitebox company it's not a case of "plucky brits", etc etc

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Devil

Re: Viglen

Just to clarify: The box in question cost a smidgen under £14k - and as a result they're no longer in consideration for about £2m in future purchases.

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FAIL

HbbTV vs Youview

"We're committed to YouView"

aka Not Invented Here (NIH)

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