YouView, the internet TV service backed by the BBC, ITV, BT, Channel 4 and Arqiva, will finally launch at the end of July with the first Humax set-top box costing £299.
See more pictures and read our first impressions of YouView in our hands-on blog
CEO Lord Sugar believes prices of YouView set-top boxes could eventually drop down to £99. He says YouView is "a great moment in British TV", promising a better basic TV experience integrating live and on-demand programmes.
He adds: "For the Freeview audience, people who don't want to be tied to a subscription, this is the only box they'll need."
The web-based TV service will offer BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and 5 On Demand, plus extra content from BT and TalkTalk. STV is also expected to become a content partner.
The first £299 Humax DTR-T1000 box (below) has twin tuners and a built-in hard disk, but one-tuner and hard disk-less models will follow. BT and TalkTalk YouView boxes will simply be re-branded Humax ones – underneath they're identical.
However, the Humax DTR-T1000 box does not have built-in wi-fi which may mean customers have to buy extra kit if they do not have a wired internet connection in the same room as their TV.
A Humax spokesman told us that they would be recommending PowerLine as a solution for people whose router is in a different room to the TV - though this strikes us as all getting rather expensive. A WiFi model, perhaps more sensible, was mooted but nothing confirmed.
Retailers including Euronics, Richer Sounds and Currys will stock the set-top boxes.
Sky has also confirmed this morning that its NOW TV internet TV service will be available on YouView from late summer.
It will offer viewers the option of a mix of pricing options, with no minimum contract, such as paying monthly for unlimited access to Sky Movies, or renting a single film on a pay-as-you-go basis.
YouView says new portals can be added at a later date, so that could leave the door open for streaming services such as Netflix and LoveFilm.
A 'deep archive' of content will include full seasons of TV shows, and a universal search function on YouView will look for content across all available video-on-demand channels.
Second-screen viewing on a tablet or smartphone is part of the development roadmap for YouView, but that will follow at a later date. For now it's concentrating on set-top boxes and PVRs (personal video recorders).
• In a separate development, Channel 4's brand-new channel 4seven is added to Virgin Media's cable TV service today on channel 195.
Customers will have access to 4seven catch-up TV with some of Channel 4's most popular shows from the last seven days including Supersize vs Superskinny, Undercover Boss, Jamie's 30-Minute Meals, and Location, Location, Location.
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