Television ‘on-demand’ has hit the headlines recently with both ITV and the BBC announcing a couple of weeks back that they’d be making all of their programs available on a catch-up basis online.
But these aren’t the only developments aimed at changing the way we watch the box. BT, for instance, has just launched its Vision service, combining a Freeview digital TV recorder with on-demand movies and other content over broadband. Channel 4 has been operating a selective download service – 4od – for a while now.
Sky, meanwhile, has its Anytime service, which combines TV you can download and watch on your PC with a jukebox service, which records a selection of TV overnight and stores it to watch anytime you like. HD subscribers get this service for nothing and, very soon, so will owners of recent Sky+ boxes.
Now, Top Up TV, which supplies premium channels via terrestrial digital, is getting in on the act, with a service, coincidentally also called Anytime (I hear the pitter patter of tiny lawyers’ feet), and it’s this that I’m reviewing here.
What you get when you subscribe to the service is a set-top box – you guessed it, it’s called the Top Up TV + box, just like Sky’s – and this allows you to watch and record all the normal Freeview terrestrial digital channels. It has twin tuners, so you can record two programmes at once – and watch another if your telly has a digital tuner – plus a capacious 160GB hard disk inside that’s good for storing more than 120 hours of film and TV.
The box has an impressive 14-day programme guide and you can do all the usual things you can with a Sky+ box: pause, rewind and playback live TV, watch a programme from the beginning while it’s still being recorded, and set it to record whole TV series with a single click – for those programmes that are correctly tagged in the program guide of course.