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back to article YouView launches with pricey premium DVR

YouView's long-awaited - no longer eagerly so, perhaps - set-top box will arrive in the shops of Britain's best-known electrical retailers "by the end of the month", but you'll have to pony up £300 for one. Two years on from its original launch window, the platform, which now combines Freeview over-the-air programming with net- …

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JDX
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Well Humax DVR are pretty decent so this could simply be what sets them apart from their rivals maybe.

I wonder if it lets you record YouView content onto the DVR like normal TV?

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Anonymous Coward

If, by 'YouView content', you mean on-demand content, no, not a chance. It's in no one's interests (apart from the consumer) to allow that to happen. Everyone would rather rent you content. Unlike the music world.

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Sorry, YouView, but I so don't care. I didn't get rid of all the all-too-often unused boxes from underneath my telly only to get another one. My Bravia has BBC iPlayer, that'll do me.

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I agree

and I'd hardly call the UI cumbersome either, maybe because it's very much like the playstation - but as soon as I switched the TV on I knew where everything was.

on screen I had options of BBC I player, lovefilm or just normal TV.

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FAIL

Another agreement here

More often than not, the programs that I actually want to catch up on, can't BE caught up on because of licensing restrictions ... and the reason I need to catch up on them in the first place is because it would take me so long to read through the listings that they are in danger of taking over from the traditional brick of a Sunday newspaper. I usually find out about shows because other people are talking about them; but by that time, they've already happened.

Let's face it; there are so many programms and channels that a standard TV screen just can't be used to plan your evenings viewing very effectively. Sort THAT one out first, Sir A.

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As a happy, long-time user of a Toppy 5800 for the last 7 years, this unit may be the one that gets me to upgrade. Sure, the £300 price tag isn't cheap, but considering a Humax twin tuner HD 500GB PVR costs around £230 or so (according to a quick google), I don't think it's too much of a premium to pay.

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@groovyf

Same here. This one might finally prize the Toppy/Mystuff from my warm sticky hands.

Sugar might be doing another cpc464 by bundling everything in a nice homogeneous package. Not sure why the article is so downcast, the only downer is its slightly too expensive ? Everything else is great, right ?

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Same here, quite tempted to upgrade the existing cheapo box to one of these as well, as you say the price premium actually doesn't seem that much.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @groovyf

Expensive to buy, Yes.

That's nothing, however, to what its going to cost you to view those missed shows in the near future: the BBC, in particular, ill soon be wanting you to pay to watch, again, what they broadcast for "free"...

And a disguised Sky channel? Why do most beople choose Freeview/Freesat?

On the other hand, thank goodness this is only about television - I mean, its not like there's great content out their from many of the providers, IMHO...

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I really don't know why people give Lord Sugar so much credit these days. He had the common touch years ago, knowing that the man on the street wouldn't be willing to pay a large amount for something.

How on earth can you be late to the Freeview + online pay service line up and then charge so much? not to mention that smart TVs offer much of these abilities built in now.

I think he has so much money himself it has blinded him to how much people are willing to spend on such technology.

You can price high if you're cutting edge or there's no alternative.

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I recently bought a HUMAX 1TB Freeview+ HD DVR. I think it cost around £270. The 500Gb version was around £240 if i remember right.

So if you're getting a 500Gb model here you're only really paying an extra £60 for the integration into the EPG of the historic bbc, itv, channel4 & Five content. For many people that will be reasonable.

Its alright having it built into your tv, but a programme guide used to be something you bought on a weekly basis from a shop. Perhaps thats a good idea too?

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Anonymous Coward

I agree, if anything having his Lordship involved has put me off - the interviews he did were terrible and theres no Youtube video or anything to show how it all works - really poor PR for such an important launch.

Youview is actually a really clever system and I'm sure that it will be with us in some form or other for decades. But the fact it cost £70 million and has been screwed up by the conflicting of interests of the partners is such a shame. It could have been released 2 years ago, for half the price and been twice as good. They would also have caught alot of sales from people upgrading to FreeViewHD.

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JDX
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>>How on earth can you be late to the Freeview + online pay service line up and then charge so much?

It costs so much because it's a top-notch FreeviewHD PVR... that's how much those cost anyway.

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"The trouble is, of course, a lot of folk own DVRs already. No problem, says the ebullient Sir Alan, this is the box their going to replace their DVRs with"

He's got a point, my Panasonic DVR is great, but isn't HD so this device (or future ones) is one to consider when I upgrade.

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Most people don't actually own a DVR, we early adopters would like to think so but the majority of people don't actually have one.

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FAIL

PVRs are not a mainstream product

Absolutely its only early adapters, advertising haters and control freaks that buy PVRs. I'm probably in all three categories, but they also really need to be able to do the maths on what monthly Virgin/Sky subscriptions add up to or be out of cable areas and hate Murdoch. Actually all these apply to me but PVR customers are a slightly broader minority than those for whom all these apply.

But the majority don't want one either (at least enough to pay >£200 upfront for it). Sky give them away, Virgin have to push Tivo pretty hard (it might be that both companies force PVRs on you if you want HD. Most new TVs seem to support iPlayer anyway now and can be had for little more than the cost of the Youview box. Gadget money is mostly going to go on tablets this Christmas I predict rather than PVRs.

This might be the best PVR on the market but the £200+ PVR market is tiny. £70 million is a ridiculous waste of money. The main chance it has is BT and Talk Talk pushing it but BT hasn't exactly done a great job selling BT Vision, they basically have to give it away.

Electronics retailers are REALLY bad at selling PVRs, most can't connect a real TV aerial or an Internet connection to demonstrate them so they sit in lines of black boxes on shelves without even a screen connected.

Overall my prediction of Youview products connected to the network not exceeding 1 million still stands although it may approach 2 million IF Talk Talk/BT throw millions at subsidised boxes OR Youview quickly get a profile for TVs that doesn't require a hard disk AND get a major brand to include it in the bulk of their range. [Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic and maybe Toshiba are what I would call the major brands but I certainly don't see Samsung or Sony going for it.

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Bob H:"Most people don't actually own a DVR"

True but the minority that do may be much larger than you imagine. Walk down the TV aisle in any supermarket and the shelves are infested with cheap PVRs, mostly dual tuner this year. Despite such low quality I wouldn't prop a door open with them, they do appear to be selling, Asda doesn't tend to waste so much shelf space on things that don't sell.

And that's the problem. Us early adopters have expensive hi end PVRs we're not so keen on replacing, or far more capable HTPCs. The mass market (such as there is) are already used to £60 dual tuner Freeview boxes. A £300 box is going to be a hard sell for those folk.

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"Most people don't actually own a DVR"

10 million homes have Sky's PVR, Virgin have a few million and then theres a few million with FreeSat and FreeView boxes (Not all with PVR, but alot of them will).

I think I'm right in saying that theres around 25 million homes in the UK, so I would guess that at least 50% of homes now have a PVR.

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Unhappy

NO WIFI

And these are the 'easy' 50% of households. The rest have shown a massive resistance to spending more than £20 on a Freeview box to convert an old analogue TV.

Additionally you need to connect the YouView box to a LAN cable. It's difficult to understand why the Humax hasn't built in WiFi. So the cost from Curry's is likely to be a lot closer to £400 when a WiFi adaptor is included.. I'm left wondering if Sir A knows that mobile devices only connect via Wifi.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: NO WIFI

Probably because no CE vendor, nor even an ISP wants to have to support the mess of radio interference inside the average punter's flat. Try streaming HD content in a flat when you're surrounded by a dozen other wifi networks, bluetooth bits and bobs, microwave ovens, dodgy electrics.

Might be another cable running to your TV but on average it's more likely to work than wifi.

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Meh

Ahah

" Stakeholders' apps are free to offer whatever mix of free and premium content as they wish - YouView's remit ends at the point UI hands over to the content provider's portal."

I was ready to give this up as a complete failure before it even got off the ground, until I read this.

Can a punter download their own apps? If there was, say, a TVCatchup.com app that let you watch broadcast TV over IP I might be quite interested, assuming the price comes down. Similarly a DNLA/UPNP app, a Spotify app and a NetFlix/LoveFilm app.

However if (as I suspect) the right to write an app is jealously guarded and vetted by YouView genuinely useful apps like this will probably not get approved and in a world of increasingly "smart" TVs I reckon that'll be the death of YouView.

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ACZ
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Re: Ahah

However if (as I suspect) the right to write an app is jealously guarded and vetted by YouView genuinely useful apps like this will probably not get approved and in a world of increasingly "smart" TVs I reckon that'll be the death of YouView.

That's my concern as well - for anything to succeed now, it must be open so that you can add your own chosen content and content providers. Otherwise, it will just end up as an annoying and frustrating walled garden. There will always be content out there that you want and that you should be able to access, but which won't be available through a closed members-only platform. For example, new online TV/video providers, and overseas providers might not make it on. Similarly, I'd love to see content from my NAS box seamlessly integrated into whatever other content is available. Zero chance of that on the current offering.

Also, do remember that everybody else is going for HbbTV, so targeting YouView will require special effort from content providers, which may translate to delay in content becoming available, or in it never becoming available at all.

My suggestion - let's just have open standards for the hardware and content provision so that anybody can supply content and can DRM things as required, and an open UI so that users can select their own content repos and add whatever channels/content providers they want. Works great on XBMC. Include a single integrated search across all content sources and you've got something that might be worth paying for.

Oh... and you'll probably want to support apps as well. In fact, why not go the whole hog and use HTML5 for as much as possible? Could even make the apps run as browser windows. Hmmm... maybe just build the whole thing on Android around Chrome? Could the ultimate solution be what Google TV is currently morphing into?

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Re: Ahah

The YouView boxes have a pretty high minimum spec, so as long as HbbTV is fairly open, theres no reason that the YV boxes couldn't get a firmware update.

I doubt that YouView will survive and stay as it is, but whatever wins will look very much like it and the boxes could probably be updated to the winning solution.

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Still only the two tuners, then

Here was a chance for Humax to upgrade their PVRs, but they still appear to be resting on their laurels. Probably no chance of an increase in the number of series or individual programmes that can be set to record, either.

6/10 - Could Try Harder

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Re: Still only the two tuners, then

I just upgraded the firmware on my HDR T2 to CFW which adds nice stuff like Sky Player, hopefully the smart bods who write the firmware will be able to add Youview functionality to the T2.

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I will definitely get YouView

Presuming of course that it is built in to the next TV I intend to buy in, ooh, 5 years time.

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Freesat version??

Anyone know if they are planning a satellite version for those of us with poor Freeview?

I live in a valley served by a redirector tower for terrestrial TV, and as such have been subjected to the Sky tax to get more channels for the 10 years I've lived in my current location. While the switch to digital improved the terrestrial service where I live, it offers minimal choice compared to Freesat (although thinking about it we rarely watch anything outside of BBC and C4 content anyway).

/Craig

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Freesat version??

No Freesat version. Only Freeview.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Freesat version??

Look out for a new generation of Freesat later in the year.

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Megaphone

Re: Freesat version??

>No Freesat version. Only Freeview.

Not true, according to Emma Scott, chief honcho of Freesat:

Q: Is it Freesat’s intention to launch Project Canvas [YouView's development name] (subject to approval)? Will 4OD and Demand Five be considered in the interim?

A: Freesat does intend to launch a Freesat receiver with Project Canvas within it, pending BBC Trust and OFT approval and 4OD and Demand Five are under consideration.

http://www.joinfreesat.co.uk/response-ask-emma-scott-a-question

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WTF?

Re: Freesat version??

I'm not saying it won't happen but any statement using the name Project Canvas is too old to be applicable to any future plans at this point. At the time when the BBC consultation started Project Canvas was targeting a November 2009 launch and nobody new what the design would be.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Freesat version??

In fairness, that was over 2 years ago, before YouView was 2 years late. As much as I would like it, I see there being too much politics and too little incentive for any ISP to offer it. It would be a niche product, unless Panasonic get onboard and do their trick of using both DVB-T and -S. Very, very unlikely Panasonic would bother developing a PVR for one country market though.

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Anonymous Coward

The other YouView Licensee

is Huawei.

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Facepalm

No doubt when "Lord" Sugar's £99 version comes out it will insist on being plugged into your phone line so that it can secretly dial premium rate numbers while you sleep...

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Disappointing

More information at http://videos.youview.com/support/user_guide.pdf but it seems that the new box doesn't remember searches (for automated recording-setting and avoiding cumbersome text re-input) or provide the option of an EPG with a list view (which makes for far easier timer programming than a time-based alternative), both of which my seven years old Toppy manages. Currently the new box is priced for PVR enthusiasts but without having the necessary functionality, I think.

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Re: Disappointing

it looks like it lacks the ability to play stuff that may be sitting on a harddrive somewhere in your home network, too (e.g. DIVX/MKV/etc...). I'd buy the box if it did that, until something appears that does that, I can't be bothered to buy it. And by the time something does appear that does this, I wonder if the functions to do it will be available in a telly for a similar price.

Until then, a lappy with HDMI out to the telly will have to do.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Disappointing

Correct - none of the stakeholders wants to be even vaguely associated with any content you may have acquired from elsewhere as it's likely to be hooky.

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Mushroom

"two years late, over priced piece of tut"

"no originality, no advanced features"

" If I wanted a friend, I would buy a dog"

"and for that reason your FIRED"

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Anonymous Coward

I like it

I've been part of the trial for the past week, machine is well built and the software is pretty good, small niggles like no clock or progress bar when I click on the infomation button for the current program. I have an Sony HDTV, terrible EPG and its not a smart one, I have a PS3 and an Xbox and while they both cover the catch up TV options, I am without a PVR, this box seems to solve quite a few issues for me and the Freeview HD option is always nice to have.

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Re: I like it

A/C - is my criticism of a couple of posts above yours correct?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I like it

To be honest I've not used the search function, there is generally only a few things per week that I watch, CSI Vegas, NCIS, what ever Law & Order series is on, a look through Film 4 then see what the latest BBC drama is happening, (Line of Duty at the moment) I roughly know where and when these shows are on so just flick through the EPG till I find them. Also coming from a previous Humax machine (9800?) I have always liked the horizontal layout and never looked for anything else.

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Re: I like it

Cheers. In contrast I simply set my Toppy to automatically record all films by Alfred Hitchcock whenever they appear, for example, and don't spend much time in the EPG. Admittedly the UI/UX bar is set low by many PVRs but Toppy or Tivo users might find the YouView experience frustrating.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I like it

Interesting idea, never thought about watching anything by a particular director actor, I'll try it tonight and see if I can get it to record everything with Michael J Fox! Just because BTTF, Spin City, Doc Hollywood etc etc are all must watch items. So glad I am posting anonymously......

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Re: I like it

It's quite freeing to programme what one wants to watch irrespective of what's on and have the library (MyView, etc.) automatically populate with content as it's broadcast (which is why a time-based EPG can be a hinderance). Please investigate whether your box retains and reuses search terms, or whether you've to retype 'Michael J Fox' and manually launch repeated searches. FWIW my Toppy retains and automatically applies several complicated search terms to provide desirable content, e.g. Hitchcock films that I've yet to see.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I like it

okay just tried the search function and well, its disappointing, only option is to filter on TV+Film, Radio or Music Videos, it couldn't even find ncis which is on channel 5 tonight! It could find Neighbours though. There is no option to search by actor, director or genre.

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Re: Looks better than it is

Any Toppy/Mystuff user playing with one of these is in for a culture shock. For example FIVE key presses to get to see a list of your recordings and SIX key presses to see your list of upcoming timers? Who thought that was a good idea?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Looks better than it is

3 to see what is recorded - Youview button, Left, Okay

4 to see your recording schedule - Youview button, Left, Okay, Right

Unless you include the power on button and the TV power on button I'm not seeing your numbers add up.

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Re: I like it

Thanks A/C for the test. It seems that the box requires too much manual driving to appeal to those of us used to a better way. The YouView box is thus far a one trick pony with VOD integrated into the EPG, but it lacks the courage of its convictions in not focusing on content finding. Much more nimble apps on tablets and specialised PVRs will own this market.

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Coat

What is the point....

.......£300 is close to the price of Sky for a year + a free box and even if I do hate them, the Sky box is very very good.

I'm all for integrated boxes and such but, when you could get a good PC with built in tune for that kind of money - mmmeh

Mines the one with an atom + ion, duel dvb-s/2 and dvb-T/2 tuner with WMC, XBMC and bookmarks to iplayer and the like that cost £400, but can also send email, word process and access youporn. in my pocket (almost)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "the Sky box is very very good"

Really? I've never been impressed when I've tried them out?

Personally I am currently looking for a twin tuner Freesat HD HDD recorder with built in DLNA Server.

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