Friday, 5 October 2012

Last Year's Next Year's Big Thing

A couple of years ago I heard about YouView, the new wonder box that promised to revolutionise the way people watch TV.  It plugs a single TV listings timeline into both a PVR and your catch-up TV services, so you can basically scroll from the past into the future and either watch or set to record any given programme.  As a notion it is elegant genius.

However, now that it has been released I have no intention of buying one.

It has been priced on a par with the PS3, which already provides several catch-up TV services and has a  TV tuner (sold separately, for an amount that does not take the cheapest PS3 above the most expensive YouView box) allowing you to use the hard disk as a PVR.  And you can play games and watch blu-rays on it.  It doesn't even seem like a fair comparison.  The only thing the YouView really has going for it is increased storage space - with the PS3 you're probably looking at about 300Gb, where the equivalent-priced YouView is the terabyte model.  This may become significant if you are a hoarder of TV shows.  I am not.

It's sad, because I think if this had come out a year or two ago it may well have lived up to its revolutionary principles.  But now, you can buy a PVR for less than fifty quid, and most new TVs and movie-disk players have some sort of internet connectivity built-in for the catch-up.  I just don't think people are going to want to multiply the cost of their PVR by six simply for the ease of use of the consolidated timeline.

UPDATE: Following discussion, I've decided they're emphasising the wrong feature. Novelty value aside, the timeline feature ultimately seems quite backwards - why should one need to know when something was broadcast, and on what channel?  YouView's unique selling point is actually that all the on-demand services are in one place, and you don't need to switch between apps or know which one to fire up.  You can simply search for the program you want to watch, by name.

(Also why are they advertising it with TV shows walking around town, surely that seems more like an advert for a portable service like Netflix)