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KnowHow Movies review

Gordon Kelly



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Our Score:



  • Full HD 1080p video streaming
  • 5.1 Surround Sound
  • No Subsciption required
  • Adaptive streaming minimises stuttering
  • 5 devices allowed per account


  • Limited catalogue at launch
  • No smartphone apps at launch
  • Prohibitive download prices

Key Features

  • Full HD 1080p video streaming
  • 5.1 Surround Sound audio
  • Register 5 devices per account
  • No Subscription required
  • Manufacturer: DSG Retail Ltd
  • Review Price: free/subscription

In a week where BT and TalkTalk lost their second high court appeal against the Digital Economy Act and the Game of Thrones season one Blu-ray went on sale nine months after the show ended it has once again highlighted the need for better online video services. DSG Group thinks it has the answer…

'KnowHow Movies' is the brainchild of the Dixons and PC World owner and it aims to go head-to-head with established players like Netflix and LoveFilm. The service was announced last week and launched just a few days ago. As such content remains limited (more of which later), but the business model is compelling: no subscription, pay as you go movies and TV to rent or download, content added on the day of release and playback on up to five devices per user account.


The kicker: DSG aims to bundle KnowHow Movies content and credit with everything from smart TVs to PCs, phones and tablets. With 600 stores nationwide, 19 million customers and sales of over 4.5m connected devices each year DSG may well have the clout to make it work. So the promise is there, but is it any good?

In a word: potentially, so let's start with the positives. Despite its age still being counted in days, the KnowHow website is clean, uncluttered and easy to use (though we noticed some glitches on IE8 which DSG confirmed will be fixed soon). Content is split into 'Movies', 'TV, and 'My Library' with subcategories for 'New Releases', 'Most Popular, 'Genres', 'Special Offers', 'Movie Studios' and 'HD Movies'. The main body of the site highlights major titles.


All content has a description, purchase options, certification information and a breakdown of cast and crew. User preferences allow parental locks to be enforced, additional devices to be activated or deactivated, the creation of Wishlists and the redemption of gift vouchers (a big part of DSG's promotional strategy). Registering for the site sees it take billing details so purchasing content is as simple as clicking the relevant option (SD/HD, rent or buy - where available). Furthermore streaming content is done in the browser with additional software only required for downloads. High definition titles offer Full HD 1080p video and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound.

So how does it perform? This is another feather in KnowHow Movies' cap. The platform is powered by Rovi (formerly Macrovision) which uses DivX's adaptive streaming Plus Software to adjusts the bitrate in real time to avoid unnecessary buffering. This change in quality can be distracting, but clearly less so than having your content stop continually - especially if others are using your bandwidth.

Jonathan Hackford

March 9, 2012, 1:55 pm

Sounds good in principal, however there are two things I would consider. Firstly is it as good as the Sony Qriocity service, which on the whole is excellent if you have enough bandwidth.
Secondly, I read recently that the internet is simply not set up to handle so much online streaming. The article mentioned that South Korea, which has one of the fastest broadband services in the world, is now capping/restricting bandwidth for streaming services in order to ease the pressure on their networks.

I guess time will tell, but I really doubt we will see the end of physical media any time soon.


March 9, 2012, 7:23 pm

I didn't put it head to head with Qriocity for the review as it principally targets Netflix and LoveFilm, but since it is very good with slow speeds it is extremely smooth with a fast connection (10Mbit+).

Overall bandwidth is another question entirely, but a valid one. There are contrast arguments with this. One side agrees with your article, but by contrast Virgin has so much bandwidth in the UK is it doubling 50Mbit customer's speeds for free. Its principle problem is coverage.

It will be an interesting sector to monitor, but as the long term future is on-demand obstacles will have to be overcome.


March 9, 2012, 8:52 pm

Why on earth would I want to pay £3.99 to download a movie in average quality onto my crappy computer screen to watch once when I can pick up a dvd copy for keeps for £3 or less? When the price halves, I might get interested.


March 9, 2012, 8:52 pm

With that pricing structure and those ridiculous hardware restrictions I can't see this horse getting out of the gate before it's pronounced lame and shot dead. Always look on the bright side of life... :)

Jonathan Hackford

March 12, 2012, 6:04 pm

@Gordon394 - thanks for your reply and clarification.

When it comes to streaming services bandwidth is important but I think providers need to consider more than this alone. They need to take into account the buffer sizes for their data and the latency of the connection. I would be happy to wait a few minutes for a film to buffer enough to have quality playback and not stutter or pause.

Regarding bandwidth, I wonder how mobile broadband will fair, especially with LTE coming along in the next couple of years. I am currently using Three with HSPA+ and bandwidth is fantastic at around 4Mbps and even latency sits at around 85ms, which I feel is good for a mobile network. I find it better than the Orange broadband I used to have where I got around 3Mbps and 55ms latency.

That said I am seriously considering signing up to one of Virgin Media's packages in the next month or so.

Craig Clackett

August 5, 2013, 12:28 pm

The site is rubbish, too many problems with DVIX player, never works. I have given up with them and gone elsewhere


August 15, 2013, 7:37 pm

Got a £10 Knowhow movies gift card with a brand new Samsung galaxy tab 2 from Curry's in Newry - it does'nt work.
It's a con!


August 27, 2013, 8:48 am

Worked for me. It took a while. The main gift card redemption option didn't work - kept saying code wrong format. After a while I found an option next to the movies that accepted the code

Martin Graham

August 28, 2013, 1:44 am

I too experience frequent crashes, stutters and jitters with the divx player. Simply not a good enough service for the prices they are charging. I would rather stick with lovefilm or Netflix.

Andy j

September 22, 2013, 7:15 pm

What a load of rubbish keeps stopping

' TONE '

September 23, 2013, 7:36 pm

Do not bother, given 3 gift cards with the latest 55 lg tv, gave up trying to get a film after an hour half, were going round in circles. How many codes DO they want, could have got a DVD from eBay quicker, LOAD OF C**P, don't waste your time, there dead in the water or will be soon,


November 3, 2013, 9:45 pm

Knowhow is absolutely shocking in all departments. I've had terrible service with their delivery of items in the past and now this shocking movie service. Got a free £10 voucher with a Samsung TV from Currys. Loaded the voucher fine, but their movie streaming service is very poor. Keeps reporting my Internet connection speed isn't good enough (it's a Virgin Media 60Mbps - works fine for everything else). At first I thought it's probably my wifi, so I wired it in, same problem, connection speed isn't good enough. More like Knowhows server speed isn't good enough.

So the free £10 gift card has proven one thing for me, it's crap.


November 18, 2013, 1:08 pm

Bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 from the local Currys PC World and received the £10 KnowHow voucher. Downloaded a free Movie and then the KnowHow APP for free. The APP will not run on this tablet. emailed Knowhow and they confirmed the problem.

pea doff

April 5, 2014, 9:48 pm

Absolute crap, accepted payment ok then couldn't watch film, kept going round in circles, my library option disappeared too so couldn't re select film. Gave up trying to watch the film.

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