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3view Freeview HD 500GB PVR - Hands-On

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It's not often one can celebrate the launch of a British piece of consumer electronics. It's nice to know, for instance, that the likes of ARM - whose CPU tech is licensed by pretty much every smartphone/tablet maker going, including Apple - are flying the flag, but the days when British companies took the lead with major CE releases have long since passed. It was with some optimism, then, that I stumbled my way over to the launch of a Freeview HD PVR called 3view. Ill-advised name aside, it's a product with real promise.
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Let's deal with the basics first. It's a dual-tuner Freeview HD PVR with a 500GB hard drive. Pre-orders are already being accepted via 3view's website and it commands a £299 asking price. Is this expensive? Well, yes it is, but not as much as you might imagine.

Though we don't have any similar Freeview HD PVRs to compare against just yet, it's similar in function to the Humax Foxsat-HDR Freesat PVR that launched in January last year. It also cost close to £300 at launch, so as a starting point it isn't too bad. Moreover, as you're about to find out, the 3view PVR has a few more strings to its bow.
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First and foremost it supports a wide range of video catch-up services. This begins, naturally enough, with the BBC iPlayer. This is supplemented by YouTube support, which now has archive and catch-up deals with the likes of Channel 4, Five and BBC Worldwide. Finally there's Sky Player, giving you access to its various channels and video services through an Internet connection subject to a subscription. All-in-all the 3view box covers plenty of bases where online video is concerned.

This includes support for Microsoft's IIS Smooth Streaming technology. It's very much an up and coming technology, so don't be alarmed if this is the first time you've heard about it. Without getting too bogged down in the details, it's a technology that dynamically adjusts the bit-rate of streaming video according to your bandwidth (more information can found on the Official Smooth Streaming website).

This doesn't just entail taking a reading and selecting the desired quality level, it constantly monitors your net connection and adjusts the quality accordingly. That way your viewing needn't be interrupted when someone else in the family starts hogging the connection! You can see it in action here.

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