YouView, the new on-demand set-top box that combines Freeview and catch-up TV services, hopes to capture your heart. But will it? Our tech team’s Andy Vandervell and Dave Holes go head-to-head.
Andy thinks YouView’s the future
Although it’s a shame that YouView has taken so long to arrive I’m still convinced it will take the UK by storm.
Yes, all the TV manufacturers have smart TV systems of their own, but most are making a lot of noise without a great deal of substance. None of these ‘smart TVs’ have catch-up TV from all the major broadcasters (most support BBC iPlayer but the rest are hit and miss) and the less said about ease-of-use the better.
What YouView has, albeit in a nascent form, is akin to what Apple strives for – tight integration. If you missed a program from three hours ago, all you need to do with YouView is find said program in the electronic program guide (EPG) and press play.
On a smart TV it’s a more laborious task of loading up the smart TV interface, then the appropriate app, and fumbling with the remote to search for what you want. It sucks.
At £299, YouView is definitely aimed at enthusiasts, but that’s not to say there can’t be other versions in the future – such as a box without twin tuners and a hard drive, which inflate the price considerably. And while the likes of Netflix and LoveFilm aren’t there yet, it’s only a matter of time before they realise the opportunity – Sky’s already planning to launch its ‘Now TV’ on-demand service on YouView.
But what YouView really needs is a ‘YouView TV’. It’ll take a TV manufacturer to swallow its pride to do it, but sooner or later one of them will realise that YouView has something they’ll never match. And the first one to do it will reap the benefit in sales.
Dave thinks YouView’s old news
YouView has missed the boat. Had it launched a few years ago then I’d have been hailing it as a cutting-edge concept. But apart from its clever EPG, YouView doesn’t really offer anything new.
Many consumers already have smart TVs in their living rooms, or other devices that offer similar functionality. Blu-ray players, PVRs and games consoles can all provide access to online TV and film content and people have been out buying these products for several years now.
As such they can already access catch-up TV services such as BBC iPlayer or download films from LoveFilm on to their TVs. So where’s the compelling reason for them to go out and buy yet another box? I just don’t see one.
I also think that it’s a serious error that YouView doesn’t include wi-fi connectivity built-in. For a device that needs to be connected to the internet, surely wi-fi is essential these days. Without it you can only connect up your YouView box with an Ethernet cable, and that’s going to be seriously inconvenient for many who haven’t got their broadband router located close to their TV set. Yes, you can use home-plugs that route your broadband signal through your mains cabling, but these don’t always work and it’s an extra cost on top of YouView’s purchase price.
Ah yes – the purchase price. £299 is quite simply a heck of a lot of money. That’s going to put a lot of people off to start with and, for a product that doesn’t offer me anything new and lacks wi-fi, it seems exorbitant. I won’t be rushing to the shops at the end of the month and I suspect not many others will either.
Do you agree with Andy and think that YouView is a step up for set-top boxes, or will you stay away like Dave?