/ Technology

YouView – where are you?

It was way back in 2010 that YouView was first supposed to launch. Promised to be the subscription-free box that would offer ‘something different’ for TV viewing, it’s been delayed, yet again…

A partnership between the BBC, ITV, Five, Channel 4, Arqiva, BT and TalkTalk, YouView would be a set-top box that could receive digital channels via your aerial, but would also connect to the internet and access the last seven days’ TV programmes via catch-up services.

Viewers would be able to whiz backwards and forwards in time through the on-screen programme guide (EPG) to view current programmes, set recorders for shows in the future, or access programmes they missed through services such as BBC iPlayer.

It was to be a subscription TV service without the subscription.

Is YouView already old-hat?

It sounded like a great idea and we were all geared up to test the box in our Which? test labs, but there was just one snag – the launch never happened. The 2010 date got delayed to 2011 and nothing appeared. And then 2011 became 2012 and it’s still not here.

May this year was touted as the latest launch date, but the word-on-the-street suggests that it’s been delayed again and a ‘summer launch’ is more likely. Some pundits suggest that it may even miss the Olympics, the tele-visual feast that’s bound to drive sales of TVs and set-top boxes.

To be honest the launch of YouView has become a bit of an industry joke – the technological equivalent of ‘Waiting for Godot’.

The trouble is, even if YouView does launch tomorrow, it may well have missed the boat. Since 2010 we’ve seen the rise of Smart TVs that can access internet services and catch-up TV without the need for an additional box, and several other internet streaming devices have also come onto the market. The ‘something different’ that YouView would have offered seems rather old-hat now.

So, if it ever launches, would a YouView box interest you, or are you happy with your current TV and the services it offers?


Where am I, or where is YouView?

I still think YouView has a lot to offer. While it might be the same service that can be had through a Smart TV, I think the interface will be much simpler. I have a Smart TV, but if I want to watch BBC iPlayer or a clip on YouTube, I use my iPad. The hassle of jumping through complicated menu systems on the TV is enough to put me off. If it were nice and simple – as easy as changing a channel – then I’d be happy, and I think that’s what YouView’s proposing. Of course the proof will be in the pudding.

I’m sure I predicted in the Which? Tech podcast that YouView wouldn’t launch until 2013… spot on?

Dave says:
7 May 2012

I agree with Ben. The catch-up TV offering on any “smart” TV I have seen is not a good user experience and does not integrate the service into the TV guide. Most sets offering so-called catch-up TV only offer BBC i-player and some add ITV player or Demand 5, but none offer all of the 5 main channels. And even then, you have to faff about loading the appropriate app. What technology journalists seem to have missed is that Youview’s USP is the full integration of catch-up TV into the EPG. No other Freeview box does this and I believe it will be very attractive to customers who feel ripped off by what they have been sold by the TV manufacturers who claim catch-up TV but fail to deliver.

I’ve noticed 1TB Humax HDR Fox T2 PVR’s going at good prices with, for example, my local Comet making them available in-store from about 20 June 2012. This machine has an internet portal if you buy, and get going, a connection to your router. Could there be a connection? Also, see the John Lewis printed catalog (but not web site).

JP says:
21 June 2012

Is it worth investing in a Smart TV or waiting for the launch of Youview. Will Youview become integrated into televisions, as if so, this seems to be a more attarctive proposition than a Smart tv, given that it will give on demand access to all 5 channels. I think I am correct in stating that no manufacturer currently offers this on their Smart tv packages?