/ Technology

YouView shows it doesn’t pay to be an early adopter

Too often early adopters get a raw deal, paying over the odds for first-generation products released with annoying teething troubles. And this could be the case for early YouView buyers…

Think back to the iPhone 4. Early-birds who rushed in first got saddled with a product that just didn’t work properly and would lose reception if you held it in a certain way.

From HD TVs to tablets, games consoles to set-top boxes, we’ve seen loads of similar examples here at Which? HQ. The first version of a product is inevitably superseded by something superior and, quite often, very quickly too.

Is YouView up to scratch?

Is the latest YouView PVR – the DTR-T1000 from Humax another example? We think it is.

It’s a very clever concept – a PVR that combines Freeview with the internet catch-up TV services from all the four main broadcasters (BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand 5) and makes them all accessible from one on-screen electronic programme guide. Whiz forward up to seven days to book recordings in the future, or whiz back over the past week to watch programmes you’ve missed.

It’s a great idea and is probably the blueprint for devices from now on, but the first version to hit the market is expensive and has some significant flaws that potential buyers would be wise to heed before parting with their £300.

For all the details see our full YouView review, but in brief it doesn’t have all the features we’d expect to find on a top-end PVR at this price. There are usability niggles and it could hit you in the wallet with its excessive energy consumption.

There’s also no wi-fi and no way to add it – strangely Humax’s own dongle doesn’t work! This means you have to use a cable to your broadband router, or if it’s not close by, powerline adapters (which use you home’s electrical system) to connect the box to the internet – an extra £40 if buy them at the same time as the box (or £80 if you decide you need then later!).

Are you an early adopter?

So while the technology excites, I’d advise waiting before taking the plunge. It’s possible some issues could be remedied by a future software update but only time will tell. Commenter Ben agreed that it’s better to wait, telling us on our previous YouView Conversation:

‘You’d be mad to buy the first revision of the first box out of the blocks of a new system. I am not interested anyway (enough boxes!)’

Early adopters will undoubtedly rush in (and one has already left a good customer review on Which.co.uk), but regular consumers are better off exercising caution and waiting for version two to appear. By then hopefully the early wrinkles will be ironed out and prices will haven fallen to more reasonable levels. Are you an early adopter, or do you prefer to wait?

Bryan Jefferson says:
25 August 2012

We found that most free view boxes have contained the annoying type of faults normally reserved for ‘early adopter’ devices; this is despite the fact they have been on the market for several years. ‘No signal’ error messages, system freezes, loss of EPG content and the need to reboot are common problems across the range of models and manufacturers.

‘Over the air’ upgrades are supposed to be available to resolve these problems but our experience is that freeview boxes over 12 months old (and in some cases less that this) refuse to accept these upgrades and simply offer the message ‘No update available’.

Which reports should pay more attention to this aspect of poor product support from Humax, Pace, Topfield, TVonics and the rest when they test these boxes.

I totally agree with the above comment. Phones are the same. ‘Support’ only lasts as long as the product is in the public eye and being reviewed and talked about. Not surprised really; what’s in it for the manufacturer? Investing time and money investing in updates to ‘old’ products with no visible return on that investment, beyond perhaps, happy customers. Who cares about happy past customers though- they want you to buy their latest product.

I bought the Ican -easy HD box a few months back on the strength of rave reviews. OK it only cost me £30, but I still feel ripped off; it is an awful product with more bugs and flaws than I can be bothered to go into here; barely fit for purpose. The ONLY good thing about it is the picture quality (when it works). Other boxes I’ve tried also seem to have similar foibles, so yes I echo the comments above. Perhaps a Which? investigation into customer satisfaction with all freeview boxes might be illuminating.

Seems Youview didn’t choose a smart name.