Andrew Williams



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Key Features

  • 7 day catch-up
  • HD support
  • iPlayer, 4OD, ITV Player
  • Remote-led interface
  • Manufacturer: YouView
  • Review Price: to be confirmed

The main aim of YouView is to make streamed TV accessible for those who aren't obsessed with technology. It brings together the on-demand portals for the main UK channels, and jams their content into the familiar and friendly Freeview EPG.

The first box to feature the system is the Humax YouView. It looks just like a normal PVR because - in many respects - it is one. It features dual Freeview HD tuners and a 500GB hard drive, so if all you want to do is watch "current" TV you can.

Also designed to be simple and unassuming, the remote control looks just like any other. Unlike the Sony Google TV box, there's no trackpad, just good old buttons. YouView wants to wipe away the disjuncture between broadcast TV and streamed TV.YouView 1

The YouView "home screen"


When you're in the normal Freeview EPG, a double tap on the left button of the D-pad takes you back past programmes being, and set to be, broadcast. Selecting these will take you directly to the programme within the relevant streaming service.

YouView 6

A full seven days of past programmes is available from YouView, effectively changing the way catch-up TV is consumed. The recommended minimum connection speed for YouView is 3Mbps, but if you have greater bandwidth, the HD stream will play.


What you'll see when you select a streamed BBC proggy from the EPG

This EPG is the friendly face of YouView, the interface that should hopefully prove digestible for grannies who took years to get used to the Freeview EPG. For power users, there's much more to find if you scratch away at the surface.

YouView gives you access to all the content that's available from its constituent streaming hubs, not just programmes piped-out over the last week. And there are several ways to access this content.

YouView 2

Predictive text in full force

The first is the search bar. It flicks through all the content within YouView, coming up with any relevant series. Aware that the numerical remote control isn't exactly the best typing tool, an aggressive predictive text system is used, offering up titles as soon as you start typing.

Search results are displayed by show name, each bearing a little number telling you how many episodes of the show are available. As YouView CEO Richard Halton made clear during his presentation, this could be hundreds or even thousands.

YouView 5

If you're a hardcore streaming fan who's just a little too used to the iPlayer interface, you can also delve into each streaming platform separately. However, the best way to consume on-demand content is from the dedicated streaming section of YouView.

YouView 3

This doesn't look too far off the iPlayer UI seen in set-top boxes. It ties-together programmes from all the YouView portals, displaying shows as thumbnail images. You can browse through them by genre, sorting by name, by popularity or by when they were last broadcast.

We've may have been waiting for an awful long time for it to arrive, but YouView seems to be making a very solid start. The interface looks good and appears to cater for both technophobes and those who have been streaming TV for years.

YouView 4

There's room for so much more...

This is just the beginning, though. As Alan Sugar said at the YouView launch in London, this is "carcass" of YouView. The company is in talks with around 300 potential content providers, and there were hints that Netflix and LoveFilm are among them. YouView's infrastructure provides for pay-per-view content too, opening-up potential for the platform massively.

The first YouView box, the Humax YouView, will be available towards the end of the month and will sell for £299.99.

Mike B

July 4, 2012, 7:18 pm

A case of too little too late?

The market is already crowded with media streamers and Freeview recorders do we have room for another?

I can't see the like of Sony or Panasonic joining in and I already have a nice Panasonic BWT720 twin Freeview HD tuner HDD Blu-ray recorder that has internet access to movies and the BBC iPlayer. Am I about to buy another box for under my TV? No!


July 4, 2012, 7:54 pm

Late, definitely. Too little? I'm not so sure...

Whilst there are indeed lots of devices on the market that include iPlayer apps, there are very few which allow access to all the major 'catch-up TV' services (BBC, ITV, Channel 4 & Channel 5). In fact the only device I could find with all of these services is the Playstation 3. As it happens I was also looking for a Freeview HD recorder too, so for me this seems like the perfect solution.

My only question though, is whether the Humax box includes DLNA streaming?


July 4, 2012, 8:22 pm

Didn't seem like it, from our hands-on time.


July 4, 2012, 8:34 pm

Ugh...that's typical. Well for me at least, no DLNA support is a deal-breaker. Let's hope other manufacturers get on board...or is Humax the exclusive manufacturer?


July 4, 2012, 8:49 pm

Nah, plenty of others are likely to appear soon. Probably not from Tvonics, though (too soon?)


July 4, 2012, 9:04 pm

over and above what you get with existing freeview PVRs, combining catchup services to a single portal and integrating into the epg couldn't have taken that long..
was the delay down to the on demand providers... ?
(kind of suits sky, no?.. should have rolled out without this..)
I feel like I'm missing something here, as to why it was so late and pitched as such a major upgrade?

I don't see anything special hardware wise, so could this be available as a software upgrade to existing humax twin tuner freeview pvr's?
and just the unified catch up portal to more basic existing models?


July 4, 2012, 10:50 pm

@Beaky69 - I'm not sure even if Playstation 3 brings together all the terrestrial catch-up services. I thought Xbox was the only service to do so but I haven't checked. And then you need to pay £26 for a Live membership to get all the catchup services on Xbox.

I'm also excited by the fact that they're all available on Youview. With most Smart TVs you only get iPlayer and maybe Demand 5 if you're lucky.
The only problem in my case, is that I use Freesat and it seems they're doing their own thing regarding catch-up. However, if I had a TV Aerial, I'd be tempted by Youview.

Mike B

July 4, 2012, 10:56 pm

Using my iPad I can access all catch up services and using an Apple TV display them on my TV, which also has quite a few catch up services and on demand. I think this product has come to market far too late in the day to make a big impression.

Most would rather put £300 towards a new smart TV than waste it on one of these boxes. I suspect this will go the way of the Amstrad phone!


July 4, 2012, 11:39 pm

I need a device which is remote-controlled, as I happen to be physically disabled & don't have the use of my hands (I use a single-switch device to operate other IR equipment like the TV, DVD player etc). Were it not for that, I'd probably put together a HTPC just for the purpose, but the large-screen interface is also important; I think XBMC has plugins for some catch-up services, but I don't think it covers all of them.

I shouldn't remind Lord Sugar about the Amstrad phone! Might make investors a bit jittery too!


July 5, 2012, 12:02 pm

I'm currently testing the Humax and i've got to say, i'm completely underwhelmed. The hardware itself is buggy; i've had my box crash on me at least three times in a week, it takes forever to boot up and come out of standby, and there isn't the simplest of additional functionality like usb media playback, wifi or DLNA. Youview itself, while probably of benefit to non technophobes, offers pretty much the same functionality you can get from many other devices already, including smart tvs. Maybe in 2010 this box would have made more sense, but at £300 in 2012 forget it. Knock them at £100 and they may have a hit.


July 5, 2012, 1:47 pm

They probably need to shave £50-£100 off it to make it an attractive proposition over other Freeview HD PVRs on the market right now. The lack of DLNA streaming (if that is indeed the case) is disappointing but it's not inconcievable that it could be added with a s/w update. Other OEMs may bring DLNA in as well to their YouView products.

Pricing and nitty-gritty features aside, the key is that you've got the big broadcasters all standing up behind a platform together for the first time. The on-demand stuff looks pretty nice and the aftermarket support will undoubtedly be there (not always the case for current iPlayer-enabled PVRs/blue-ray decks). I can see the whole thing going from strength to strength.


July 6, 2012, 2:31 pm

I set up my youview trial box last night.
Externally, exactly the same as the humax twin tuner PVR I already have. Same price etc too.
Impressions so far: yes I like being able to tell whats available on catchup from the epg. very nice. (though it does seem to take up more screen space?)
I gave it a go and found that not being able to skip adverts in on demand is more annoying than I remembered, so pretty much the same reason I try to avoid live tv.
I'd rather record a half hour of something and watch it in twenty minutes later by zipping through the ads.
Conclusion: A slow burner, with sales linked to usual product upgrade cycle.
Wanted: Make software upgrade available to existing freeview models!.. but they won't.. will they..
still not seeing what the big deal and big delays were all about...


July 9, 2012, 5:01 pm

Can I just second how long it takes to start up.
Approx 3 times the existing Humax HD freeview PVR box.
Also, the search facility is really really poor.
It doesn't even find a lot of programmes currently playing or about to start which are listed in the EPG. So very poor. Resorting to memory, or to find things..


July 9, 2012, 5:03 pm

I've completed a few of the surveys, but tbh, considering they just posted me out a 300 pound box, I thought it'd be a bit more than a few radio buttons.
Maybe it's coming, but they need to be collecting details on how poor the startup times are, and how poor the searching facility is.

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