Finally settling down to see what the V-Box can do in terms of making AV dreams come true, I quickly stumble across a really pretty disheartening problem: the amount of HD content available from BT Vision really is very limited indeed versus the Xbox and especially Sky+HD propositions.
In fact, selecting the dedicated HD menu option produced only eight films: The Bourne Supremacy, Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, The Duchess, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Kung Fu Panda, Love Actually, Mamma Mia!, and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Yikes.
The HD menus do also contain a collection of mostly nature-based HD TV series: Tigers - Spy in the Jungle, Galapagos, Extraordinary Animals, Supervolcano, Top Gear 2007: Polar Special, Earth: The Power of the Planet, Hiroshima, Planet Earth, Pride, Superstorm, Trek - Spy on the Wild, and Ganges. But within the movie focus used as the main criteria for our recent Sky+HD and Xbox 360 articles, there's just no getting round the fact that BT Vision isn't even in the same ball-park when it comes to HD movie content. Frankly, it isn't even playing the same sport.
What's particularly odd or even alarming about this is the fact that the BT Vision platform actually carries more than 600 film titles in total, but for some reason currently only carries the vast majority of these in standard definition. Aaargh!
Another real aggravation of the BT Vision system is its download speed. A 50-minute Planet Earth show in HD took a mind-numbing three hours and 20 minutes to download. And the HD version of Mamma Mia! took - drum roll, please - an incredible seven hours and 45 minutes. That's a whole hour and 45 minutes longer than the already intimidating 5-6 hour estimated download time given within the film's onscreen synopsis.
Compare this with the way the Xbox 360 downloaded the high definition Wanted in under two hours - using exactly the same BT Broadband line - and it's clear that something isn't quite working as it should within either the V-box or the BT Vision servers.
Obviously the snail-like download speeds make any sort of instant gratification with downloadable movies completely impossible with BT Vision - especially as, unlike the Xbox 360, the V-Box doesn't let you start watching downloaded films before the download has completely finished.
I have to say, too, that having my broadband pipe clogged up for nearly eight hours by a downloading film didn't exactly improve my mood.