BT Vision YouView review – hands on
Posted on 3 Oct 2012 at 16:51, by David Ludlow
One of the benefits of YouView is that it was designed for companies to take the base platform and add custom apps to give people new TV services. BT is one of the first customers to launch with its own products and we were there to find out how YouView fits into its Vision platform.
The first thing to note is that switching to YouView alters how much involvement the company has in the development of the box and its software. All YouView boxes have to have the same EPG, with the ability to go backwards and forwards in time, with the only differences being the range of apps that they can access.
In fact, as well as having the same interface, the first BT Vision YouView boxes are actually Humax DTR-T1000 YouView PVRs. These are identical to the model that we reviewed, but when the box detects it's on a BT broadband connection it automatically makes BT Vision available; plug the PVR into a TalkTalk connection and you'd get that company's TV app instead.
In practice, this means you can buy your own YouView PVR, connect that to BT broadband and have access to BT Vision. We think you'd be a bit mad to spend near-on £300 for your own box, though, as BT is offering the YouView box for free for anyone that takes out a 12-month BT Vision Essential package or higher, which costs from £4 a month (£48 a year). On top of that you have to pay a one-off activation fee of £49, which includes powerline networking adaptors, and a £6.95 delivery charge. So, all-in if you register at www.youview.bt.com you can get a YouView box for £104, which is an amazing deal for the best Freeview HD PVR you can buy.
One of the potential advantages of being able to buy your own YouView boxes is for multi-room entertainment, getting BT Vision in multiple rooms. We're waiting to find out from BT exactly how this would work and if there's an extra charge for doing this.
Once you've got your BT box set up, it works exactly like any other YouView device. That's to say, it's got the best EPG out there, which lets you step back in time and play on-demand content seamlessly from BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five. It's incredibly smooth to use and we like the neat little touches, such as a global setting to force on-demand content to play in HD where available.
BT Vision is now an app within the box, giving you the same range of programming options and interface as on the existing Vision 2.0 box. The only thing that's different is that there's no longer an option for catch-up TV in BT Vision, as this is fully provided by YouView.
As for BT Vision, it's a pretty decent package with a range of on-demand films, TV programmes and music videos, and you can organise the latter into your own playlists. On-demand content is free, bar the latest films, if you've got BT Vision Unlimited (£12.50 a month) or there's a cost per show for Essential subscribers.
You can add any of the other YouView optional apps, too: currently there's Channel Five's Milkshake! and Sky's Now TV. As other services come online, they'll be automatically added into YouView and BT Vision.
Ultimately, that's brilliant for BT Vision, as subscribers to the service get everything that BT has to offer, but they can add any other service they see fit without having to buy new hardware.
Of course, the YouView box is an excellent PVR with dual Freeview HD tuners and a 500GB hard disk built in. Humax will also sell a 1TB box, although BT couldn't tell us if it's planning to offer the larger capacity box.
In the future, BT is planning releasing its own box manufactured by Pace. This will run the YouView software, but it will also have a dedicated BT Vision on the remote, letting you jump straight to that on-demand content.
As it stands, BT Vision YouView looks like a great deal, getting you a top-of-the-range PVR for around a third-of-the-price you'd pay for it alone in the shops.
Our decision to install BT Vision in June 2012 has proved disastrous. It was not possible for us to get the facility to work using the BT Vision User Guide. With help from BT helpline we were able to get BT to work but on switching off at end of day we could not restart next morning. Happily we were able to revert to the set manufacturer's remote control and receive basic programmes but we were unable to receive the BT Vision facilities we paid for. On numerous occasions we referred to helpline, and the best they could do was to lead us through a procedure to get the BT Vision remote control working but never how to hold it working when switching off. One technical adviser recommended we reverted to using the manufacturer's remote control and forget about facilities until the BT service improved. By September we discovered how to reinstate the remote control - not explained in any of the user information provided by BT. Now we must go through a tiresome procedure to get TV working each morning.
Most technical advisers tried to be helpful, though one lady could have been provided by central casting for a bit part as prison guard in Stalag .......... !!!
By meysey on 18 Oct 2012
Waste of time!
We were given a 12 month free trial of BT Vision as an appology for the terrible service we had experienced during our house move.
The unit would not pick up the on demand channels no matter how we tried, it would stop working or not record a programme without warning.
We have now put the unit in the loft and re-installed Sky.
By dynoensor on 25 Nov 2012
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