BT Vision Streaming Service

Score

Sections

Pros

  • Get free YouView box if you subscribe to BT Infinity and TV Essentials package
  • HD picture quality is strong
  • Streams are stable

Cons

  • Have to subscribe to BT Infinity or BT Broadband to get Vision
  • Only available through YouView or BT Vision receivers
  • Feels a bit expensive

Key Features

  • Review Price: £18.00
  • Video streaming via BT
  • Box Office pay per view movie section
  • HD available on some films
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 audio on some films
  • Comes with free YouView box to new Infinity subscribers

Introduction

It’s been far too long since we last pored over the

BT Vision video streaming service. Way back in 2009, in fact. So it’s

high time we went back to it, to see how far it’s advanced. Especially

since BT recently kicked off a new promotion whereby you can get BT

Vision via a free YouView receiver.

To

get started, we need to explain all the complications of BT’s current

availability and cost options for BT Vision. The first – and in our

opinion most troublesome – point is that in order to access ANY BT

Vision content, even the pay per view stuff, you need to be signed up to

BT as your home internet provider. We’ll get into why we find this

problematic later.

Limited viewing device options

It also

remains the case that you can only watch BT Vision via either BT’s own

Vision receiver or a YouView box. There’s no support for iPads, Android

devices, Smart TVs or even PCs. This too seems rather limiting in this

day and age.

BT Vision

There

are essentially three BT Vision packages available: a basic TV

Essential subscription, a TV Unlimited service, and a Sports package.

Frustratingly, the latter option is currently only available if you get

one of BT’s Vision boxes rather than a YouView receiver, though the

service is due to become available via YouView by next summer.

It’s

also the case that you can now only get the Sports pack (unless you

already have it) if you live in an area served by BT’s fibre-based

Infinity network.

Sports Complication

So if you

fancy the Sports package – which currently comprises Sky’s Sports

channels – we’d probably recommend you go for the YouView/Infinity

option now if you’re in a suitable area and just manage without the

sports channels for a few months. After all, the BT Vision box doesn’t

offer either YouView’s brilliant ‘backwards EPG’ functionality or its

extra streaming players – like Sky’s Now TV.

To get a ‘free’

YouView box, then, as well as a ‘free’ TV Essentials BT Vision package,

you need to become a new subscriber to BT’s Infinity broadband service –

something that will cost you £18 a month if you’re one of the 11

million households and businesses currently covered by the fibre

network. If you can only get one of BT’s standard broadband services on

your local exchange then sorry, but there’s no free YouView box for you.

BT Vision

You

also aren’t entitled to a free YouView box if you’re already a BT

Internet subscriber; instead you’ll have to wait until you’re out of

contract and then take up the Infinity service as part of a completely

new contract.

You should also note that both the YouView and BT Vision receiver options carry a rather aggravating £49 ‘activation fee’.

Essentials

With

the TV Essentials package you get pay-per-view access to all of BT

Vision’s on-demand TV shows and Box Office movies, with TV episodes

costing between 50p and £1.10 a time and films starting at £3.50, and

going up to £4 for HD versions. These rentals are usually yours for 48

hours.

Splash an extra £12.50 a month to bag the Unlimited

service, and you don’t have to pay for any on-demand TV shows – they’re

included. Also you get an extra Vision Film section featuring more than

250 ‘back catalogue titles you can watch for free. At the time of

writing titles here included Air Force One, The Aviator, Kick Ass, The

English Patient, Face off, and Magnolia.

Doesn’t eat away at your download limits

One

last price-related issue we need to cover is that stuff you watch via

BT Vision is not treated as part your download allowance if you have one

on your broadband deal, so you won’t find yourself running out of

capacity after a couple of HD movies.

When you fire a YouView box

up now, it will automatically recognise if you’re a BT broadband

subscriber and if you are it will present you with a large BT Vision

icon on the home screen. One click of this and you’re straight into the

menu of services on offer.

BT Vision

This

menu is reasonably well presented and thought through. You get a

‘shorthand’ list of options on the left, with fuller menus associated

with the highlighted left-hand option on the right. The categories on

the left comprise: Vision Box Office, Vision Kids, Vision TV, Vision

Music, Vision Film, Vision Sport, and something called Essential on

Demand.

The stuff on the right side of the menu usually

comprises highlighted content for each of BT Vision’s areas, while also

providing other ‘jump offs’ to further content.

Handy OS features

Further

features of the menus that we greatly appreciated during our tests were

‘People who watched this title also watched’ recommendations, the

ability to create playlists (especially useful, of course, with the

music content) and the ability to bookmark favourite content so you can

find it more easily later.

The overall look of the menus is bright, colourful, spacious, inviting and for the most part logically laid out.

There

are a few issues with the OS, though. For starters, the menus are a

touch sluggish and they don’t show many video link icons on screen at

once. Also the service doesn’t do as much as it should to highlight HD

content. It turns out you having to go into the Search By Category

section before you stumble across a way of filtering films by whether

they’re HD or not.

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