Is Lord Sugar's Humax DTR-T1000 YouView next-gen Catch-up TV PVR really the revolutionary box he thinks it is? We took a closer look to find out
Two years behind schedule and with a £70m development bill (£10m of which came from your licence fee), YouView's slow, expensive trudge toward reality has been nothing if not controversial.
So has it all been worthwhile? The first YouView product to hit the high-street is the Humax DTR-T1000 PVR. Its principal hardware competition comes from Smart Freeview recorders such as the Panasonic DMR-HW220 and the Samsung STB-E7900.
Humax PVRs are traditionally well made and this model seems no exception. Finished in gloss black and characterised by a large centralised power button, it's minimalistic and slick. The gloss finish extends to the large, comfortable remote control. The box isn't quiet though. We were quickly aware of a constant, low-level hum, even in standby.
Setting YouView apart from vanilla-flavoured Freeview HD PVRs is the way it integrates 'net delivered Catch-up and IPTV. Key to this is a retrospective TV guide which allows you to browse back seven days to programmes you might have missed. Back when YouView was Project Canvas, this must have seemed positively Gallifreyan.
Today not so much, it's already available on the VirginMedia TiVo service. But for a non-subscription option it's still undeniably cutting edge. In other respects, this YouView debutant functions just like any other PVR, recording digital TV to a 500GB hard drive beneath the hood.
In addition to HDMI and aerial loopthrough, there's a retro pairing of Scart and AV phono outputs, an optical digital audio output, Ethernet and USB. The latter isn't for media playback, but a Humax Wi-Fi dongle.
Blending broadband with linear telly might seem an invitation to calamity, but YouView's diligence seems to have paid off – the interface works beautifully. While Smart Freeview recorders already offer BBC iPlayer alongside sundry other services, this is the only platform to pony up Players from the BBC, Five, Channel 4 and ITV.
There are over 70 TV and radio channels to choose from, including HD options such as BBC One HD and there's also a library of on demand content. What's more, if you've BT or TalkTalk then you'll be able to access even more content. More services are promised, including Sky's Now TV PPV offering.
YouView: Picture Quality
Both broadcast TV and recorded image quality are excellent, the latter transparent to source. Streaming proves buffer-free (although this is dependant on your broadband speed, a minimum of 3 Mbps is recommended); rather cleverly a small partition on the hard drive is reserve to cache streams in order to provide a smoother viewing experience.
According the marketeers, YouView is on a mission to bring a connected TV experience to the great unwashed - but this box is wasted on such tech numpties. What we actually have here is a kick-ass PVR, with immaculate Catch-up integration, which should be of interest to everyone.
Expensive it may be, but with scope for expansion Lord Sugar's new toy is one to hire not fire. The user interface is fast and intuitive, image quality top notch, and the way IPTV services have been wrapped into the mix beguiling. It may not perfect, but YouView really is a strong proposition.
It may be two years overdue, but the YouView experience was worth waiting for. Provided your broadband connection is up to snuff, it'll change the way you watch TV
YouView availability: 30 July 2012
YouView price: £299