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back to article YouView: The long march to... er, where exactly?

When YouView was conceived at the BBC in 2007 as "the iPlayer in hardware" it caused huge convulsions across the TV industry. Sky and Virgin grumbled about anticompetitive practices. Now, several years later, we can see that YouView is exactly what was promised: it's the iPlayer in a box. But the idea that it's revolutionary, …

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JDX
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I'd LIKE a standard interface to iPlayer, 4OD, etc... right now iPlayer is great and everything else sucks.

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iplayer is the defact'o standard for catch up TV and a dare say gives a perfect frame work for "pay for" online streaming.

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4od + iplayer + the other catch ups

Same here - I never thought it was anything more than combining the existing services from various sources into one box. Currently I can use the iPlayer on my Wii but if I miss something on Channel 4 then I have to plug the laptop in as 4OD isn't on Wii.

Is it supposed to do something more then? Must admit - I wasn't expecting to shell out for another hardware box - hoping for a Wii app or Humax add-on (or whatever they call them) but I guess that's optimistic!

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Anonymous Coward

No standards

Look at iplayer on Virgin. It's rubbish compared to virgins crappy interface. Iplayer on the Web however is good. What with smart TVs why do you need this now? I'd rather spend the cash on a new TV

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So Andrew...

... what would you like British TV companies (or not to use any dogmatic and backwards facing terms like that, 'the people in Britain wot generate visual entertainment in a manner vaguely reminsicent of television programmes, or film, or theatre or something') to be producing and how would you like it to be funded. Or is this a market we should be surrendering to the U.S. with its greater consumer base?

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Will probably be getting one

While I can understand the criticisms of this device, it's almost custom designed to my current requirements. Allow me to explain:

We used to have Virgin Media and their TiVo box and it was great - did everything we needed very competently. This would probably still be our ideal televisual solution however, we moved house and managed to select one of only about 4 houses in the area unable to get a Virgin Media connection - which was really quite frustrating (especially as it took about 5 weeks for VM to send a man round to establish this fact).

Sky is verboten for several reasons, mainly Rupert Murdoch and the need to bolt a dish to the front of the house.

Fortunately we live about 300m from the telephone exchange so internet connectivity is not a problem.

We've been surviving on a diet of PS3 & Xbox iPlayer/4OD services but they're a bit of a faff what with having to flip from one app to another to see what's available. Also we can't use these to pause live telly.

YouView seems to scratch many of these itches far better than any other solution I've seen - it's a bit of a TiVo light but if you are unable to unwilling to subscribe to VM or Sky it seems to be the most user friendly choice. I've seen lots of bitching about the cost, but all the equivalent vanilla Humax FreeviewHD DVR is £250.

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Devil

Re: Will probably be getting one

Sounds perfect for you Malcolm. You are spot in the middle of the large niche.

Any bets on the increase in Sky subs that is likely to happen if Murdoch sell it? It wouldn't surprise me if they could get an extra million in the 12 months following his complete removal from the company. That would be the worst thing that Sky could do to Youview!

Icon for Rupert!

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Bronze badge

Re: Will probably be getting one

check out the play tv for the ps3. should be pretty cheap these days (much cheaper than £300 ), and turns your ps3 into a fully fledgeD pvr.

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WTF?

There's something very creepy about a piece written by Andrew "business model is a bullshit term used by nobody" Orlowski which features the phrase "technology only disrupts briefly and temporarily". It's like chatting to your nan and having her casually mention that the current batch of disco-biscuits doing the rounds are of a surprisingly high quality.

*shudder*

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Tee hee :-)

I was going to put 'disrupt' in ironic scare quotes but thought that would patronise you. Good catch, though.

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Not to mention "Content remains king - it was ever thus". It wasn't thus in 2001 when he wrote, "Content is not King".

(I'm being unfair, I know, but I liked the 2001 article and was struck by the apparent reversal.)

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The BBC's Sky Envy

If you are looking for a good Freeview HD PVR then Youview may be the very best choice but it has aimed at a small market (expensive PVRs).

The biggest reason for the existence of Youview is the BBC's envy over the control Sky has over Skyboxes and its ability to add new features and update the software as it requires.

Youview is an attempt at getting that control over the box in the home without doing what Sky did and buying millions of the things. Manufacturers are relegated to being hardware box providers. You might say that is good as many of them produce shocking software but that means the big TV brands won't touch it as if they are surrendering their control and ability to place content in the UI they might as well do it with Google TV and have it work outside of the UK too (not many markets yet and I know its rubbish). This along with the mandatory twin tuners, specific OS requirements and particularly the hard disk mean that you won't see it in the really big market for TVs themselves. It has stuck itself the (large) niche of high end Freeview recorders.

It is also still focused around the broadcasters and the schedule so inevitably any services without schedules (Lovefilm, Netflix etc.) will necessarily be second class citizens with less routes to access them than the broadcasters content. [I haven't seen the UI yet but I don't see how this could be avoided]. It does probably have extensive user tracking capabilities at least for ITVPlayer's ad-tracking but possibly for otherwise monitoring what you are watching

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Inaccurate Sky cliams

"Sky said yesterday that it's bringing its pay-per-view movies (called Now TV) and possibly sports to YouView"

No, Sky said very clearly

" Sky Movies will be available from launch and the service will later expand to offer sport and entertainment."

Not "possibly sports", DEFINITELY sports AND entertainment.

http://corporate.sky.com/investors/press_releases/2012/now_tv_to_be_available_on_youview

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Anonymous Coward

Better than BT Vision

I'll probably get this via BT as it will be better than the current BT Vision box. HD for a start.

I don't really follow the argument here though. Surely a standard platform is a good idea? There's currently a messy mix of online and over-the-air services, so putting them together in one nice UI is useful. Even more so if third parties can get involved eg LoveFilm/Netflix.

Of course, we should all see what Apple brings out with their rumoured TV. They will control the platform then.

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Re: Better than BT Vision

"I'll probably get this via BT as it will be better than the current BT Vision box. HD for a start."

I'm kind of hoping (and assuming) this *is* the next BT Vision box...

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Alert

Re: Better than BT Vision but NOT a standard

Youview isn't a standard. It's very much a platform controlled by the consortium. Calling it a standard is like calling Windows Phone 8 a standard. It is a closed managed platform that happens to have been created by UK broadcasters and telcos.

Like WinPhone you can get it from multiple manufacturers. Manufacturers and, carriers can customise it a little although Youview can force updates. This analogy can probably be expanded but hope Humax isn't the Nokia of the story being decimated.

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Ooh, will they read this?

Because I have a feature request. Please stop putting anything with Katie Price or Peter Andre in the "Factual" section. I'd suggest a new category: "Fatuous".

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Content is king

Most emphatically content is not king, as a quick look at any TV screen in the world will show. In 2012 we are still watching broadly the same programmes as we did in 1976, except that now they are spread over 50 channels instead of 3. You therefore need some serious kit to sort out the 5% watchable from the guff that fills the remainder of the spectrum.

Features are king because they make the desirable content more accessible. This YouView gets my vote because, in drawing together several powerful functions in an intuitive interface, it makes it easier for us to get to the good stuff.

I'll upgrade because YouView will be smarter and lower maintenance than the existing combination of technologies that amount to a You View equivalent, viz Toppy, MyStuff and WD TV Live. The same will apply to many others who have a different permutation of products.

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Re: Content is king

Anyone moving from a Toppy with MyStuff to this Youview box is going to be very disappointed with the current state of its UI.

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Guide doesn't update fast enough

I know this because I tried to record the episode of Raiders of the Lost Ark shown on your screengrab. My DVR didn't know that showing had been cancelled either.

Instead I got a load of bloody tennis.

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DLNA too?

Put me down for one. Time to retire the Toppy and make use of the HD transmissions I think.

Looks fine to me, but I would like a DLNA client. I can't find out much about this Humax box at the moment though.

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For those not able to get Virgin and don't want to pay SKY's monthly subscription, being able to get some VOD is very nice. Not all of us want to have the hassle of setting up media centres or watch content on our laptops (don't get me started on watching content on a PC, just doesn't not work for any length of time). Being able to just switch channels rather than boot up the computer to watch something is very nice.

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Quick question

I'm guessing that you won't be able to use the DVR to record past programmes - is that right?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Quick question

No you can't it was one of the things i tried to do.Even if the box would let me download it to the HDD during the night to watch within X amount of days that would be good.The UI is nice.After living with the box for over a week,it just reminds me of BT Vision with a better UI.Seems to little to late for YouView.

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FAIL

Why the fuss?

My TV already has built in on demand TV viewing apps such as iPlayer, 4OD etc, and my PVR already has the same as does my Xbox and my XBMC (media center PC) does a far better job than any of those for watching content all in one nice interface. This seems like too little too late to impress anybody but my Gran. It's also rather costly, costing more than my top of the range PVR and even a media center PC so why bother? Sugar you're fired!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why the fuss?

My TV does iPlayer, but not 4od or ITV, as far as I'm aware. Even if it did, I'd have to take it out of TV mode, go into the online services page, check what's on iPlayer, back out, check what's on 4od, etc etc.

Also, my TV will record, but only after I stick a hard drive into it which, as it's hanging off the wall, I don't want to do.

So a box that does all this natively and easily would be great, just as it's nicer to go to iTunes and browse and download whatever music or video you like as opposed to going to each store of each label and distributor.

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Gold badge

Re: Why the fuss?

I'm sure he'll cling on to this one until the end, just like the brilliant Emailer that nobody wanted.

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Looks good, but features?

I think it *is* all about the functionality. Will it have an app for remote recording setup? How about streaming to my iPad in the bedroom? Sadly, I'm not filled with confidence by the omission of wireless. What was Sugar thinking exactly? How many potential customers have an Ethernet socket by their TV? And for the sake of pennies? Big mistake.

Still, I shall try and remain optimistic. I'll buy one anyway - perhaps not least because anything that the BBC is involved in is a no-brainer for me. Very conservative British Terrestrial Broadcast dinosaurs, Andrew? You do realise that British TV is revered the world over, right? Well, perhaps not 'Five', but, well you know..

99% of what I watch is on the Beeb anyway.. and if I can get the 2 programmes I like on Sky via 'Now TV', I'll be a very happy bunny.

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FAIL

Re: Looks good, but features?

Sugar.... thinking.... no, I didn't expect him to either...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Looks good, but features?

"How many potential customers have an Ethernet socket by their TV?"

The two official answers: 'buy a bloody long cable' or 'go buy some powerline networking kit':

http://www2.youview.com/support/kb/what-if-my-box-is-a-long-way-from-my-router

http://www2.youview.com/support/connection-guide/

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MJI
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Re: Looks good, but features?

Am I the only person with an ethernet hub by their TV?

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h3
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I prefer ethernet to wireless given the option of only one unless it is something that I will be moving about.

Anyone rewiring a house might as well put in a double ethernet socket with every power socket.

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Colour me confused..

What the difference between this and something like the Humax HD Freeview PVR, which I believe can access iPlayer etc?

Apart from about £50.

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Re: Colour me confused..

Mostly the UI James, smoother access to the catch up services.

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Anonymous Coward

I subscsribe to talktalk Tv or Tiscali Tv as it used to be called . It is basically this but all under talktalks umbrella and user interface. Works well enuff but £300 is waaay too much maybe £150 for early adopters and then dropping to £110 or thereabouts. I paid, I think. £30 (install fee) for talktalks DVr plus subsrciption. I would love the ability to unbundle, and to put my own content onto the hard disk. I mean its all networked already, All SD afaiCT ....

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the service is not great. Try it with multiroom and you will loose bandwidth and have a failure. Have multiple net connections again you will have problems. Plus not everyone will be able to get programs that a paytv channels not on Freeview eg sky sport if it launches on the platform. This is because of peoples distance from the exchange and broadband speed.

The idea is good I just feel they have not executed correctly as it is design by comitee. I have seen these boxes working and they are good just not great. Sky and Virgin have both done a better job.

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The interface IS the message

This article seems to completely ignore the convenience aspect. I already own Sky Plus but I watch hardly any of the pay channels. I continue to rent Sky Plus solely because the user interface is SUPERB, and because it is easy to distribute around my home; there are standard remote controls which I can pick up relatively cheaply which are EXACTLY the same no matter which shop I buy them from, there's a built-in RF modulator, there's an RF "magic eye" backchannel for remote controls in other rooms, there is a distribution amp in the loft, job done.

I've wanted to switch to some kind of Freeview Plus PVR + iPlayer solution for some time, but... Jesus H Christ they're bloody awful. No RF modulator on most of them. No "magic eye" backchannel at all, making it unnecessarily difficult to use remote controls in other rooms. Remote controls that you can only purchase direct from the manufacturer's "spares" department at a horrendous price (really, 60 notes for a remote?).

Sure, all these problems can be solved by daisy-chaining my own RF modulator, my own RF<>IR remote sender, a bunch of generic remotes... but it just ends up looking like a cobbled-together mess, which is exactly what it is.

Furthermore, Freeview Plus EPGs and recording library listings interfaces and iPlayer front-ends, universally SUCK. All of them. If Youview only does one thing, if all it does is give me a better front-end to an EPG, stored recordings and iPlayer, then I am willing to pay for that alone, even if I have to continue cobbling together a bunch of RF-boxen to do the multi-room thing.

I can count the number of programmes that I watch on pay TV channels on one hand, and still have two fingers left over. I almost exclusively watch Freeview content. But via Sky, because the user experience, the convenience, the interface.

And before anyone starts, no I do not want a Freeview PVR in every room. I want one central record+store box, and then to be able to play out on any screen in the house. Sky Plus does this very, very well.

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