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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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Gimp

You won't get a Freesat or Freeview HD box with DLNA server

Freesat (and Freeview) don't permit that (or at least don't allow some content to be served that way putting anyone off from developing such a feature). Or at least require the content to be served with content protection and I don't know of any clients or renderers that support it. There may be non-Freesat satellite boxes that do it but I haven't been following that market - Dreambox used to do pretty smart satellite boxes.

The only solution that I know of is to get a PC for MythTV and connect a couple of DVB-S2 tuners. I have a Freeview HD set up like that but I used to have a satellite tuner for the HD before I could get a T2 tuner.

Icon because the BBC, Freesat and Freeview are gimping your consumer electronics!

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Go

Re: You won't get a Freesat or Freeview HD box with DLNA server

But I have one - Humax HDR-FOX T2 with *ahem* updated firmware. You know how to use Google, right?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You won't get a Freesat or Freeview HD box with DLNA server

DLNA is required in the YouView spec

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WTF?

Re: You won't get a Freesat or Freeview HD box with DLNA server

It appears you are right and it does have this functionality

I've read the Freeview Manufacturers Trademark License Agreement and also the BBC license to use their ever so trade secret Huffman tables that are available to download in the MythTV source code amongst other places.

If content that is flagged as copy controlled can be sent unprotected over the network the Humax are risking their Freeview HD trademark and action from the BBC for breach of contract.

I spent quite a few hours when I worked at Sony arguing mostly with the against these very contract provisions on the basis that anyone wanting to pirate the content could just use a PC with a tuner. I couldn't convince my colleagues to refuse to sign and to launch without the Freeview logo over this issue though. I still think that the contractual conditions are stupid but the restrictions should be lifted for all manufacturers rather than the BBC letting it slide for their Youview best buddies.

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Gimp

Re: You won't get a Freesat or Freeview HD box with DLNA server

Apologies for replying to my own comment but I've had chance for a little further research.

http://wiki.hummy.tv/wiki/Encryption

It seems that Humax PVRs out of the box complies with the Freeview agreement and probably the BBC license. The built in DLNA server will only stream HD content with DTCP (the DLNA copy protection standard I had forgotten the name of). So it is still gimped for most users who wouldn't want to install custom firmwares.

I can't remember the licenses well enough to know if there was a general requirement to secure the box that would mean that the possibility of installing custom firmware was a license breach itself but I expect BBC/Humax to let it slide as they only want to stop the majority and put up a show of security to the rightsholders (otherwise they would encrypt the broadcast too).

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Re: "the Sky box is very very good"

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

The Sky UI is very good and has had many years of development so the bugs are now fairly minor. It is also installed on around 10 million boxes so is used by about 25 million people on a daily basis. I await the growing list of bugs in the new YouView EPG - has anyone ever introduced one that is bug free?

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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"

*they're

The device feels as if it's a decade too late - not in terms of functionality but because it's yet another add-on box. At the moment, with the integration of Freeview / Freesat / iPlayer into Smart TVs, isn't the general trend to reduce the number of devices on the shelf below the telly?

Integrate it into a telly - yes, great. Or make it into a USB dongle so it can plug in to a PC / Mac or an existing telly that has a USB slot (assuming that kind of capability exists).

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Separate box is good

Because these smart TVs are going to become unsupported by firmware updates six months before you buy them, and you don't want to waste your money buying a new 50" screen each time.

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FAIL

Yesterday's Machine

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".

Whisky Tango Foxtrot

Sugar was on TV this morning talking about how iPlayer wasn't easy, that you had to go to a PC to use it and type in a web address, despite the fact that it's on tablets, smart TVs and every console.

The whole thing looks like a lot of old, tired companies getting together and thinking they can palm off the public with a box that might have been interesting 3 or 4 years ago. You can buy a TV that will do iPlayer, LoveFilm, Freeview, Blinkbox and Netflix today for around £450 and that includes a TV! Or an Xbox for £129 will do a lot of that too.

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Re: Yesterday's Machine

While I largely agree, the XBox won't do a lot of that without an XBox Live Gold subscription.

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Content

I'm a geek. But I'm an stalwart geek. I bought my first flatscreen TV on Monday. It arrived yesterday. It's Samsung. It's not "Smart". Because, to me, a TV is a viewing device. I choose what to put on it and it displays it. When I'm done, it gets turned off. Hell, I've not even Ethernetted it yet, even to try it out, because I haven't yet done anything that I think would be served by that facility (despite deploying Serviio DLNA servers in work for multiple displays, etc.)

The black boxes situated under or around my TV are things I've bought to specifically add functionality I need and one of them happens to be a laptop. Which does everything that the TV and all the fancy set top boxes can do(and more) - it even does PIP and HD Freeview PVR with Dual Tuners from a £20 dongle, so the actual TV is literally just a display device that happens to have other functionality, in my view. And my laptop has done all this for months/years. I use that sort of functionality once in a blue moon and the desire to put it on the TV is infinitely less again.

About the only other things I have plugged in are a standalone DVD player (because I only own DVD's, and my girlfriend sometimes just wants to watch something on it - which I quite understand as a user interface simplifier) and my Virgin Media box which I've had for years - which also does lots of fancy stuff but, you know what? I can count on one hand the number of times I've watched something on iPlayer through it, or bought things on Pay-Per-View events (and once, it cut halfway through the film I'd bought to watch and it wouldn't come back, so I dug out a DVD instead).

Hell, I had to seriously consider what it meant to only have one SCART socket on my new TV but realised that with the SCART switcher I have, the once-in-a-blue-moon use of a Wii wouldn't cause hassle either (and that does iPlayer too). I was disappointed that I couldn't get VGA-In too but I sacrificed that for price and did so knowingly.

My problem with TV is not availability online, not the technology to do so, not the equipment, cabling, internet access or set-top-box. It's not the number / type of ports or the HD-ness of my TV (incidentally: I'm still holding the opinion that HD is tripe because I now have it - proper 1080p@60 - on a TV standing next to my old CRT and honestly cringe at the new TV's reproduction of 4:3 SD content from the same DVD player over the same cables compared to that old CRT). It's not the scheduling. It's not the ability to timeshift or PVR. These are all problems that are solved now.

It's the fact that there's nothing to watch. The other week, with the football on, I was bored to tears. I could not find a decent bit of TV to watch at all, for several days. In the end I reverted to my personal archives and a boxset that I forgot I had bought. YouView isn't solving a problem. It's just adding to it. It's now easier to find tons of stuff that I don't want to watch and no harder to find what I do (because for things I *DO* want to watch, I know when it's on, what time it's on, how long the series lasts, and whether it's a "compilation" episode or not - and I can timeshift it as appropriate).

Stop the technology. iPlayer solved most of the problems there (and the only one which remains is bandwidth, which YouView doesn't solve). Start the content. Gimme things to watch on this wonderful new service. Don't put on old stuff in HD, or archives on repeat (unless I specifically WANT to watch something from the archives - just how hard is it to just put EVERYTHING online, no matter how old?).

Gimme something to WATCH. Everything else is sorted, and has been for years, and all you've done is put it in a pretty (and pretty expensive) box that I already could have 5-6 of without even trying.

Gimme something worth watching on all that technology. All the last 10 years of TV technology has done is increase the noise and (sometimes literally) decrease the signal.

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^^^ What Lee said.

I just have a crummy old PC, extra monitor £5 from a carboot, bethere broadband, thebox, isohunt and the online catchups if needed. No adverts! Even on the ancient CRT/VHS box downstairs that gran watches, I still just use the PVR to pause it while I make a cuppa and skip merrily past all the ads.

Served me well for years and I'm sure it will continue.

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Re: ^^^ What Lee said.

DIY solutions with MythTV or similar are brilliant, but require a lot of legwork to set up even for tecchies like us. Many of the softwares involved are works in progress, release 0.15 or something like that. Despite being a Linux head, I just don't want to spend 200 hours spread over the next 25 weekends setting up XBMC. I could earn enough cash with those hours to pay for an out-of-the-box solution many times over.

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Boffin

Re: Content

I can't solve your content problems but...

Any Samsung that you found without internet features is from the shit end of the range. Probably the main picture quality difference between the shit and the good TVs is how well they upscale low quality content so it is no surprise that it is giving a worse picture than the CRT when fed an SD source. Fed a clean HD digital feed at native resolution even the shit TVs look pretty good. It is also probably larger (guessing) which will always reveal more of any picture problems present. At the very cheap end especially small screens some products are irredeemably shit although I don't think this applies to recent Samsungs.

It also will probably need some picture settings tweaking, dialling down the colours a little and massively reducing the sharpness setting often massively improves the look compared with the in store image settings. Also switching to HDMI cables from SCART will make a massive difference by avoiding analogue to digital conversion (which aren't necessary with the CRT). DVD players with HDMI are very cheap these days and Blu-rays can be had for not much more. You should also be able to set the picture up to display 4:3 with black bars at the side but this is often harder than it should be.

Also can you point me to a dual tuner DVB-T2 device for £20 if it is USB I'll buy it to upgrade my MythTV box (as long as Linux supports it)? I quickly Googled and there are plenty of normal DVB-T tuners at that price but I couldn't see and DVB-T2 ones.

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Re: Content

Well, Youview will allow for lots more companies to sell you (or even give you) content. Nothing on terrestrial or the FTA satellite broadcasters? Sky will happily sell you a movie through their channel on your Youview box and so will all the other chanels that want to offer a service through such devices.

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Re: Content

1) Samsung TV is brand-new (2012 model), only £50 cheaper than a "Smart" TV of the same size. Don't have the model number on me here. It has networking, DLNA, 1080p@60Hz, 3 (or 4) HDMI, etc. It's just not "Smart". And it's still not even plugged into Ethernet yet, as mentioned.

2) Upscaling of content is otherwise fine - given any non-SCART source, it works perfectly and shows a clear image. All 4:3 and even 16:9 SD channels show perfectly fine. But external 4:3 sources look like badly encoded YouTube videos.

3) Digital HD source? Obviously perfect. But that's not my point. I would have been sending the damn thing back if it didn't. But side-by-side with a CRT of MUCH less price when first bought (and 25+ year old technology inside it), it can't show SD content on anywhere near the same level from the same source / cable / connector as the CRT. Doesn't matter how you cut it, that's just shite, and this wasn't bottom of the range by a long shot (hell, they're still selling "new" 1366x768 TV's as "HD Ready"). And funny it only skimps on non-HD, external sources and not, say, any 4:3 SD Freeview channel (yeah, odd that - nothing to do with wanting to make old SD equipment look bad while not annoying people who've bought it to use Freeview?).

4) Picture tweaks required are ludicrous. Colour bleed, huge saturations, contrast, brightness, everything I could find. From a decent DVD player, it can honestly look like you're playing a very bad, multi-recorded-over VHS. You can make it look okay by tweaking EVERYTHING, but you shouldn't HAVE to. It handles the same content perfectly when that's broadcast and the same content perfectly if I play it from a laptop. Not my fault they don't bother to apply their super-smart auto-colour-adjustment to the analogue source too (even after the digital conversion REQUIRED to display it on the digital LED screen!). 32-bit A-D convertors are ten-a-penny in the TV industry now. And, some shuftying about shows that playing that content through any other (even £5 cheap) HDMI source that can play analogue content over it (and thus using the cheapest A-D convertors imaginable) makes it work just fine

5) HDMI vs SCART - really? That's the entire issue. I'm not upgrading every bit of hardware when every TV for 30 years was able to show things from SCART without horrendous colour bleed and blurriness on technically INFERIOR displays. The detail is IN that signal (old TV's have no problems showing it) and the TV has just been designed not to show it, even though it's capable of (and does) a lot better on other sources that come in the same. It's "let's make SD look bad so people buy our HDMI / HD junk instead".

6) 4:3 / 16:9 is a solved issue with this Samsung. Not found something that it doesn't change correctly at the right time. So it's not that.

7) The size of the screen? I deliberately bought one which, when displaying 4:3 centered content, would have the exact same physical screen size (but obviously higher resolution) as my existing 4:3 CRT (which took a while to come along at a decent price, I have to say, and one of the reasons I took so long to upgrade!).

8) The USB DVB device was a KWorld device that Maplin's sold off cheap a few months ago. After a quick look, I don't think they have them any more, which is hardly surprising. I used it for a while last week before my TV arrived to see what channels I could get (and play with PIP and DVR of some HD streams). Dunno about Linux support because it hasn't yet made it to the Linux server with my CCTV cards in it, but I've seen Linux mentioned in the drivers CD, etc. It may have been £25, but it was certainly stupidly cheap.

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Re: Content

1-7) OK. Not being familiar with the latest Samsung TVs I can't really comment further but it sounds that you have a single (and probably valid complaint) that it is crap at handling SCART input. And maybe other analogue sources too. Your previous complaint sounded like a much more general compaint about HD TVs and the technologies behind them rather than a specific complaint about a particular weakness in particular models/brands.

8) Looking on the KWorld website I can't find any DVB-T2 products. I suspect that you have a DVB-T product not suitable for Freeview HD broadcasts (although it would be fine for the French HD broadcasts). That is still good value for such a product but not the mega-bargain a DVB-T2 version would have been.

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It's superb.

I've also been trialling it - and the interface is so much better than Humax, Sony, Samsung or Sky's it is untrue. Superb user interface, and the integration of catch up TV with the EPG is brilliant.

Naturally of course, everyone wants an amazing magic box that does everything, includes a jetpack and they get paid to use. Its a PVR. A bloody good one, and it costs the same as any other decent PVR...

As Humax usually make a non-recording version of their boxes for much cheaper, I'm sure that will come - and you can always get it on a bundle deal if you really want the moon on a very cheap stick.

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FAIL

Re: It's superb.

Hope they don't come after you for breaching you NDA, dude.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's superb.

"Hope they don't come after you for breaching you NDA, dude."

Because he said how great the box is? Doubt it.

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A disgruntaled customer.

Looks like someone is not happy with their box / service even asked Lord Sugar to take it back!

http://twitter.com/#!/crickwales

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FAIL

What is this box for?

I have a Humax Freeview HD DVR box with 500Gb HDD that cost £199 that does all of the above apart from ITV Player (no loss there) so why would I want this?

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It's Humax kit so it should at least be pretty good (although the 9200T proved that they could screw things up occasionally). But otherwise..too much, too late. I wish them well though.

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How does it compare with TiVo

TiVo has pretty "joined up" Catch Up already, integrated into the EPG. If you missed something, you can scroll back through the listings to whenever it was on, and hit OK to watch it from Catch Up. (Or you can search or whatever.)

I appreciate not everyone has access to Virgin Media.

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Re: How does it compare with TiVo

The Youview box does the same, the historic EPG is downloaded from the net and anything you want to watch on catchup is there or if you have already recorded it, it shows with a small R icon and clicking that plays it from the HDD.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How does it compare with TiVo

or wants to pay for the service

anyone that wants to know how great tivo is, wants to read the VM customer support forums

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At that price, this is dead in the water.

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FAIL

Its a fail, people don't want boxes to catch up, they want to catch up when and where they like, be it on the tv, on the train or on a park bench!

Personally I would love it if there was one app which allowed access to all the major on demand content, i don't mind adverts on commercial content, but there is no app for 4OD for my tv! which is annoying!

I know I won't be paying £300 for a DVR to get this feature...

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FAIL

TiVo or YouView...

I was really interested in the progress of YouView. I have TiVo from VM and not using it as much (I now use XBMC on a MacMini) as I have that may programs and films to watch.

£300 for a box that can do less than my XBMC setup is crazy. If it would have at least had the same or better features than I am used to then I would have looked at it. If it would have had FreeSat on, then even more likely. As I have no roof antenna anymore (and not had for over 10 years) this to me is a complete waste of time. Great initial concept though.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: XMBC

Reverse engineering YouView into XMBC will happen. It's just a question of when.

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Restrictions on players

"Not many include all the current major terrestrial broadcasters' on-demand services, however, but the YouView box does."

There's a reason for that.

In order to get and keep Freesat or Freeview labels, the makers have to do what Freeview and Freesat tell them to. Until recently that's meant not including the on-demand services (apart from BBC iplayer), despite being ready to roll them out some time ago.

It got even more interesting when some makers were allowed to bundle ITV player on freesat devices, but others (eg, slingbox) weren't.

There's probably a story in that. Slingbox's UK people seemed more than happy to talk to the general public about the restrictions whcih were preventing them putting all the catchup/on-demand services on their device,

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Re: Restrictions on players

Its not Freeview/Freesat restrictions preventing this but the content providers wanting a high degree of control over the UI and the platform and not being prepared to invest in major work either.

The problem is the ITV and Channel 4 haven't been very bothered about getting their catch up services onto TV platforms. The commercial model isn't that clear cut for them and they have very particular requirements for their advertising. They also had the dream that Youview is the answer to everything and I think to a certain degree have been holding back so that Youview gets unique features.

The number of Freesat iPlayer users is absolutely tiny and the usage figures were swamped when with the BBC's agreement that platform was used for iPlayer in the menu of one of the major TV brands with models that had been on sale for about 6 months. If ITVPlayer didn't work on Slingbox I don't think ITV would have put much effort into fixing it.

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FAIL

Project cost £70 million!

Not sure where all that money has gone, given that Humanx already had a suitable platform, only needed to tweek iplayer/iTV player/etc to conform with the CE-HTML that is available on the platform and its good to go.

And as this expensive product is only available for the UK I cannot see many other STB/TV manufacturers wanting to get on board, esp as they will have to front a joining fee to offset the original development costs.

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Anonymous Coward

YouView software please!

YouView software please!

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Joke

Cost

It's all very well to criticise the price, but El Reg has totally ignored the fact that Sugar is offering a green screen version for £100 less.

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Re: Cost

I presume you're referring to the CPC464. Where you had to buy the modulator box if you wanted to use it with your own TV, a feature which pretty much every other home micro of the era had built-in...

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Re: Cost

Yes, but on the other hand the CPC range came with high quality (for the era) RGB monitors. Putting a modulator into each computer would have pushed up the cost. Additionally Amstrad built the PSU into the monitor so there only needed to be one power lead. It enabled them to meet the price points that Sugar was aiming for.

Even when I upgraded to an Amiga, I also got a Phillips monitor as frankly I didn't want to squint over a fuzzy 14 inch TV. Even today my Amiga has a correctly modded RGB output cable that allows it to work happily with an LCD TV. If using my Amstrad left one legacy its that I cannot abide a fuzzy RF output. :-)

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Anonymous Coward

I really don't understand all the negativity, it's a linux computer that has a minimum spec dictated by YouView, so the software can be updated by YouView to add all sorts of bells and whistles, and unlike Sky or VM you are likely to see NetFlix and/or LoveFilm on YouView

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It's a locked down Linux computer and Youview have the keys. Netflix, Lovefilm and iPlayer are all going to be on most new TVs and are on Netbox products for £50-100. What is there to get excited about.

Even if it's the best PVR and TV network device in the country they have aimed it a niche market and won't get that much traction to build a big platform.

Why am so negative? Because they spent 4 years and £70 million building the wrong product. And at least £20 million of it is our money (Channel 4 ) is publicly owned in addition to the BBC. The system seems to expose too much of the box capabilities so it may be hard to port to other platforms as hardware develops. Focus on Youview has been a distraction from providing content on other emerging platforms with actual users already.

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Your netbook comment is disingenuous, no netbox product for £50 to £100 will have dual HD tuners and a 500 GB HDD and YouView is not going to be run on a raspberry pi

I don't see how it's a niche market and I don't know how far £10 million goes at the BBC, I shouldn't think it's far though (The BBC has spent over £638 million on radio that I haven't listened to in 2010/11, but I am not about to start complaining about it)

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You are right that the £50-£100 netbox products don't have tuners or HDD but they were not the features mentioned in the comment that I was replying to.

If you are in the market for a high end Freeview HD PVR at the moment I would at least wait and try the Youview box. If you already have a HD PVR don't bother, get a cheap netbox or blu-ray player for iPlayer/Lovefilm/Netflix. Just don't expect a much greater range of content on Youview than you can get on a major brand TV as it is unlikely to sell on sufficient scale to be a major platform. It will probably limp along like Freesat with less than a million users, little draw in of extra content that isn't already there for other devices (like Freesat gets things that are made worthwhile by Sky's scale) because the market for >£200 PVR products is tiny.

Youview is really a broadcaster power grab and I believe that it has already had negative market impacts in the availability of online video services on the existing devices.

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FAIL

I'll stick with an HTPC+XBMC+tvheadend

I suspect a lot more flexibility can be had from a small HTPC (Revo or whatever) plus a couple of USB Freeview HD tuner sticks (which can allow you to record a lot of simultaneous channels if they're on the same multiplex - can the YouView box do this? A shame there aren't any twin tuner variants of the stick though!) for the same price as this initial YouView unit.

With an HTPC, you get a fully fledged computer with wireless keyboard and mouse, choice of OS (Linux with XBMC+tvheadend is the cheapest, but you could go Windows+Mediaportal instead) and a lot more control over what you view (e.g. any available video on the Net, whether it's downloaded or streamed) and run (anything you care to install in the OS).

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Megaphone

It needs to be like a smartphone/tablet

Smartphones and tablets have apps for useful things and gimmicks to show off to your friends. Watch what you like from online, or have an app to hook up to a media server elsewhere in the house.

This is what the ideal "set-top" (can't perch anything on top of a flat screen any more!) box should be, effectively - a large tablet on the wall in the lounge controlled by the remote. Apps you can show off to visitors, all the content from all the sources.

Nothing less will ever be the revolutionary must-have. And if people can make money from selling apps, why not?

Only when a living room telly box is as cool to show off as your iDoodah will it be a massive success.

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Anonymous Coward

Mediaportal

I'll stick to my PC based Satellite TV running Mediaportal with MDapi. Every channel you can name and is 'very cheap' ;)

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Had a play, and it's very good

The price is high, sure, but as mentioned it's not much more than your average twin tuner PVR.

The integration of the online ondemand services into the EPG, forward and backward, is the key thing, and it is excellent. I will never want to faff about on iPlayer, or ITVplayer or 4OD after playing with this. And those things are painful if you are searching for something using a remote.

I will probably buy one

(ex-TiVo, Toppy and mystuff, playstation PVR user)

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