YouView boxes are an easy way to update your standard Freeview experience. Like the Freeview Play box, these boxes add a familiar interface with a large amount of smart functionally. YouView boxes can access 70 – 150 TV and radio channels (depending what’s available in your area) with catch up and video on demand services. Using the EPG/TV Guide you can scroll 8 days forward and 7 days back and play any shows you’ve missed. You can also use the inbult apps: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4 and My5. The 7 day catch up is a real killer feature, there’s something about scrolling back and forth through the TV Guide that’s integral to the TV experience, and that’s lost when flicking through iPlayer or Netflix.
If you don’t think you’re going to be able to watch something within the 7 day period, or if you don’t think a show is gonna be on catchup then you can record onto the 500GB hard drive. This seems like a key feature, but with all the on-demand services available the recording feature is really more of a nice addon than a main feature.
There are some more bonuses, if you have a Netflix subscription you can log in and access the whole library. You can also access the NOWTV Film subscription service, but oddly you can’t get the NOWTV Entertainment or Sport packages – it seems so odd that these have been left out, but maybe they’ll be available in a future update.
Set up is easy, they have set up with step by step guide all the cables and connectors are supplied in the box. You need to plug in the internet, as there’s no WiFi model available, but it’s always best to plug in an Ethernet cable when streaming video if you have the option as it offers a faster as more reliable.
Once you’re up and running you can search for what you want to watch, and the search function is really excellent – its searches the catch-up apps, 7 day back catalogue of shows and what’s currently airing to show you want’s available. The search works even if you don’t type exactly what you meant to, or if you don’t finish the title. Its called ‘fuzzy search’ and it works really well on YouView.
The navigation and play is really snappy and easy to use – basing the navigation around the familiar TV guide means you basically already know how to use it.
You can pause and rewind live TV and navigate around the interface with the included remote. At first the remote is a little stiff, but as usual it loosens up once you’ve used it for a month or two.
All in all, the YouView box can upgrade your TV to include a huge amount of smart functionality. At about £170 it’s quite an expensive update, but it’s a premium device and everything works quickly and everything is integrated together beautifully. Other devices may offer more functionality with Plex or Kodi, but if you don’t want to mess around with a lot of setup then the YouView is a great way to access catch-up services.