YouView if you want to - I'll pass

10 July 2012, 14:42   By Justin Schamotta

youview tv

In modern TV land, the consumer is king, blithely able to summon and dispose of channels on a whim.

It takes a lot to impress kings. YouView hasn't managed it.

Paucity of features

For the uninitiated, YouView is the latest set-top box to arrive enthusiastically, but more than fashionably late, for the smart TV platform party.

Created by a consortium of big hitters including BBC, ITV, BT, Channel 4, TalkTalk, Arqiva and Channel 5, YouView was once billed as the future of TV.

Unfortunately, its tardiness - by three years, if we're being generous - means its competing with equally big hitters: Virgin Media, Xbox, PS3, Freeview Plus, Sky, smart TV manufacturers and various streaming sites.

The YouView user interface is undeniably attractive - free of clutter and decked out in a calming blue colour.

There's picture-in-picture functionality, a useful calendar for viewers to know at a glance which day they're viewing and a decent search that mimics Virgin Media's TiVo.

One of the few defining features is a backwards electronic program guide which allows users to scroll back seven days to catch up on programmes they've missed.

But it's not enough.

The Humax box has 500GB of storage, not an amount to be sniffed at but not particularly impressive as set-top boxes start getting into terrabyte territory and the lack of wi-fi is irritating.

In terms of content, YouView offerings are pretty meagre - lots of Freeview channels and on-demand content from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

There is Sky's Now TV but it's still unclear how much or even what kind of content that will actually provide.

However, most YouView features are already available for free to consumers through modern TVs and the same on demand content has been available, again mostly for free, from the major TV channels for years.

Which brings us to YouView's other big problem.

How much?!

For what it is, YouView isn't cheap.

It would be hard to even describe it as mid priced.

The most accurate adjective would be 'expensive' or perhaps 'bloody expensive'.

£299 may have seemed fair four years ago. Now it's more than steep.

For the same price, consumers could buy not one but two Xboxes which provide virtually the same services as YouView but also allow users to navigate their way around these features by waving at or speaking to the television.

With competition like that, it's inevitable that the price of YouView will come down.

Perhaps the high launch price is intended to fool us into thinking a reasonable price is a good one, certainly TalkTalk and BT are likely to use it that way when they bundle the service in with their broadband.

Useful Links
Pay TV now more here
Pay TV vs Freeview here

Personally, I'll see the price drop as proof that no one has bought it.

One of the many problems with YouView is that it seems to be offering the worst of both worlds.

It's not as free as Freeview and can't provide the quality content that pay TV providers like Sky can offer.

Bundled boxes are expected to offer featured content from the ISP that supplies them but BT Vision is struggling with that as it is.

No wonder the broadband soothsayers are speculating that Sky will just up and buy out TalkTalk's business.

On this evidence, it can't compete.

All in all, YouView backers are ensuring that it enters the market with as much noise as possible.

Consumers may ensure it leaves a little more quietly.

Comments (3)

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