As you’d hope, the Freeview PVR part of the BT Vision box allows you to set series links, pause, rewind and record live TV. Plus it has two tuners so that you can record one Freeview channel – in, it has to be said, rather average picture quality – while watching another.
When it comes to pricing, the BT Vision proposition is hit and miss. You can get just the V-Box, if you wish, for an attractive all-in total of £58.72. This leaves you with a functioning Freeview PVR, but having to pay individually for each and every programme or film you want to download from the BT Vision on-demand servers.
Prices for these individual programmes and films range from 96p for a TV show, to £2.88, £3.37 or £4.84 for a film, depending on whether it’s a new or back catalogue title, and standard or high definition. These individual film prices look a bit steep compared with the prices of Sky’s Box Office movies – though of course, you have to also pay a high subscription for Sky’s service on top of the its prices.
More troubling is the fact that BT Vision pay-per-view movie prices are a touch higher than the prices of the Xbox 360’s pay-per-view movies. And crucially for the purposes of this article, you don’t get any HD films provided within any of the BT Vision subscription packages outlined over the next couple of paragraphs. There are a few HD TV shows available within the subscription packages, but HD movies are always, to quote BT, “classed as premium,” with pay-per-view charges attached.
Coughing up for an HD movie – or any downloadable content, in fact – buys you a two-day rental of the download that thankfully starts not when you download the programme/film, but when you elect to pay for it post-download (with the cost added to your next phone bill).
The three BT Vision subscription packages mentioned a moment ago stack up like this: £13.70 a month for two channel ‘packs’, £17.61 a month for three packs, and £19.57 for all four available channel packs. These prices start at £6.85, £10.76 and £12.72 a month for the first three months of your subscription.
The four packages available for you to pick from are PictureBox Film, Sport, Music, and Kids, with standard TV shows and Replay TV also included with any of the channel package deals.
Replay TV is, as its name suggests, a service that allows you to catch up with a selection of shows you may have missed in the previous week from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five. For me this on-demand catch up service is one of the V-Box’s most attractive features, and one which can’t be matched fully by either the Sky+HD or Xbox 360 rival services.