YouView review

YouView brings on-demand TV services together

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If you're someone who regularly sits on the sofa with a laptop watching catch-up TV, YouView could be the TV service for you.

However, if you're one of many viewers who can perfectly well survive on a catch-up diet totally dominated by BBC iPlayer, then YouView is overkill – especially if you've already got a smart TV with an iPlayer app.

Similarly, anyone with a games console or smart TV won't exactly be blown away by the addition of Demand Five, ITV Player and 4oD catch-up content to their daily TV diet. Fans of the 'light' channel, however, and anyone after a no-holds-barred Freeview HD recorder, should invest in YouView immediately; it's only going to get better. The arrival of Now TV from Sky adds hundreds of films, and sport could be next.

We liked

Buying Guide
best tv

Best TV 2012

Free catch-up TV from all the main terrestrial broadcasters, plus 'pay and play' films from Sky: what's not to like? Going back in time to find the programme that the bloke down the pub was talking about, then watching it immediately, is an awesome function. We're not sure how much we'd use it, but it's nice to have all the same.

Better is the on-demand area, which makes discovering good, quality programming in impressively specific genres so easy as to render live TV completely pointless.

The service looks good, works quickly and is easy to understand, and with Sky's Now TV adding top-line films rentals from Sky Movies, YouView just got more exciting.

We disliked

If you're generally disappointed with what's available on demand – ie home-grown programmes – we were tempted to say don't bother with YouView, but Now TV changes that.

We're not sure the separate area for accessing each individual broadcaster's on-demand portal is a good idea. Surely the whole point is to banish the kind of separation promoted by separate apps on smart TVs. We really don't care what, where or how a repeat programme is supplied.

Now TV does complicate matters a tad, largely because it combines paid-for content with free stuff. We would like an option to only display free content, since we're sure that some users will be actively put off by expensive films cluttering up their otherwise free-to-air paradise.

Broadband usage is a little worry, too – check your allowance – but another facet of YouView worries us more. Whether late-to-the-party YouView can become popular well into the era of smart TV depends wholly on how easy and convenient it is to use.

And while we absolutely love the user interface offered by the only YouView set-top box so far, theHumax DTR-T1000, we're baffled as to why it's not fitted with Wi-Fi. Having to wire in this box to a broadband router is, frankly, dinosaur-like, and bound to put off some prospective owners. However, that's not YouView's fault.

Final verdict

As small, affordable upgrade to a BT Vision box, we can see YouView carving a tidy little niche. As a stand-alone service for the rest of us, YouView could be a world-beater - and the addition of Sky Movies via Now TV will attract some.

Still, we're sure YouView was primarily meant to be for those who want to watch EastEnders reruns from the previous day without firing up a laptop; the creators of this platform will have to be very careful in adding apps and services that dilute its free-to-air roots.

Perhaps content from the likes of Now TV and other on-demand film apps such as Netflix, Lovefilm or Acetrax should only be present on YouView if you activate them.

Its development will be interesting to watch, though we do know one thing; YouView is so much nicer to use than separate apps on a smart TV.