This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an iPlayer working on a TV without a PC being attached, of course. I covered in a feature last year how the new iPlayer for Freesat platform was working via Humax’s Freesat PVR receivers. And of course, you can also get the iPlayer via your PS3 or Nintendo Wii. But the iViewer scores a considerable coup by being the first TV to have iPlayer functionality built in, with no external box required.
What’s more, the iPlayer actually works quite well. Menus and programmes load quickly, and with a wide range of different BBC shows using a perfectly bog-standard BT 2Mb/s broadband connection (2Mb/s is the minimum the TV will support) , the iViewer’s iPlayer pictures look clean and reasonably detailed.
The only problem I noted was that some feeds looked slightly stuttery – so much so that it can lead to some distracting lip-synch issues. It kind of looks like you’re getting every other frame of the picture rather than every single frame. Freesat’s iPlayer images suffer with no such stuttering.
Thankfully this stuttering/lip synch problem doesn’t happen all that often, though, and when it does you can usually improve matters by choosing the lower bandwidth option iPlayer provides. The only catch with this, of course, is that choosing lower bandwidth means having to put up with a really quite drastic reduction in picture quality.
While the iPlayer might be the headline service of the iViewer C3298DVB, though, it’s certainly not the only one. For you can also access content from YouTube, the Disney Movie Previews UK podcast, Autocar magazine, Sky Sports Boots N All, The CNN Daily Video podcast, Jamie’s Ministry of Food Recipes, Delicious TV Veg, Revision3 Diggnation (!), The Larry King Video Podcast, the Discovery Channel Video Podcast, the Uefa.com Magazine, and best of all, the Sesame Street Podcast. Woo and, indeed, hoo.
As if all this wasn’t enough on a 32in TV costing just under £500, the iViewer C3298DVB also carries a ‘browser’ supporting streaming from DLNA media servers – most likely your PC, if it’s up to date enough. And there’s more. For if the idea of hard-wiring the iViewer to your broadband router seems too uncool for school, you can also furnish yourself with an optional USB dongle to introduce full Wi-Fi functionality.
With this in mind, it’s nice to find the iViewer carrying two USB ports, so you can use one to play video and stills stored on a USB storage device without having to disturb your optional Wi-Fi dongle.
The iViewer wraps up its impressive multimedia functionality with the now more or less de rigueur PC input. But this isn’t to say that it’s completely satisfying on the connection front, for it only boasts two HDMIs when ideally we’d have liked three.