YouView internet TV service to launch end of July, set-top box costs £299

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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Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.