BT VisionSupplier: BT Vision
If you have a BT broadband service with a 2MB or faster speed, you can get a BT Vision box. This box functions as a Freeview receiver, and a streaming device for BT's on-demand service.
We nearly didn't include BT Vision because its current receiver doesn't support Freeview HD. But BT assures us that it's working on a Freeview HD receiver for the future, and the platform does offer downloaded HD video on demand. So we figured it was worth a mention so you can see if you want to hold off getting anything else until a Freeview HD version comes online.
The BT Vision box features a 160GB hard disk drive for storing all your downloads. Please note that HD feeds need to be downloaded in full to the HDD before they will play. The box will cost you £90 up front if you don't subscribe to any of BT's channel packs. Not signing up to channel packs will mean you will have to pay for any on-demand programmes you want to download. These programmes vary in price, between 39p and £5.
The box can be yours for 'free' if you sign up for a monthly subscription (and you already pay for BT Broadband). The Bronze Value Pack currently costs £7.50 a month for the first three months, but £14.99 thereafter. This gives you access to programmes stored within two of BT's four channel packs: Film Club, Sport, Music and Kids. For £10.50 a month (£17.99 after the first three months) you can get three of these channel packs, while the £12.50 Gold pack (£19.99 thereafter) gets you all four channel packs.
Included with all these packs is perhaps BT Vision's best feature, Vision Replay, allowing you to catch up on the best shows on demand from all of the main five UK TV channels.
There are two big problems with BT Vision from an HD perspective, though. First, until the Freeview HD box comes along, HD content is limited. A search for HD content among the On-Demand listings uncovered only 61 programmes, taking in a mixture of films and documentaries.
The other huge problem is the amount of time it takes to download HD material. Selecting the HD version of Jurassic Park III (as you do), we were told it would take five to six hours to download via our 2MB pipe. And that proved to be optimistic. Not exactly compatible with today's environment of instant gratification, is it?!