This is a review of YouView via TalkTalk after almost a year of use.
Almost a year ago I upgraded my TalkTalk package to the Plus TV package, which resulted in becoming a YouView user as well. I wrote a review after three months of use, which you can find here. What has my recent experience been? Am I happy customer?
What I think of the set-top box I was given.
The Huawei dn370t set-top box supplied by TalkTalk could do with a bit more hard drive space, requires a reboot at least every month and at times feels sluggish to use. On the flip side the box can record two channels at once, has an okay EPG and works reasonably well with the BBC iPlayer, and whilst it can’t currently show live NowTV streams, the on-demand NowTV movies from Sky are pretty good at an additional monthly cost. This isn’t to be confused with purchasing Sky Movies via a TalkTalk boost!
There is no fan in the box, which means no noise. It isn’t particularly big, and is a lot smaller than my old VHS tape recorder. It is frustrating though when the EPG isn’t working properly or it is sluggish to scroll through channels, which often is a clear indication I need to reboot the device.
I was grateful for the signal strength details, as the Freeview TV signal kept breaking up or disappearing entirely. The box showed a low signal strength and with the purchase of a Freeview signal aerial amplifier booster (with 4G filtering), the problem was fixed.
I think the hard drive size could be an issues, which is emphasised by the quality of content available to watch on Freeview and EPG (electronic programme guide). You want to record a series? No problem, just select the option. I found that I’ve almost filled up the devices hard drive! Given the increase in available Freeview channels this year, I can see the problem only getting worse for some, especially those with families.
Though that being said, perhaps I’ve recorded too much and should sit down more often to watch the content and then delete it from the box!
I am concerned about the life expectancy of the hardware I’ve been provided, especially given the rapid developments in technology. Perhaps some software updates will improve it, but often software updates are delayed, which frustrates many TalkTalk users, which I can fully understand..
Though if I get another couple of years out of the box, I guess it has paid for itself and I can’t grumble.
How I’ve connected the box to the internet.
I did have the Huawei box connected via powerline adapters. This meant that the IPTV stream ran through a power socket to a second adapter which was then plugged into the router. It worked without a problem, and it is only because of a lounge change around, that it the box is now plugged directly into the router.
Powerline adapters can be a problem for some, but I’ve found by giving the adapters their own mains sockets there isn’t an issue.
Are the streaming IP channels any good?
Now since my last review, there has been an addition of more IPTV channels, such as Dave, S4C and Sky Box Office. Have I found myself using them, glued to the TV more? Not really. Occasionally I will use the BBC iPlayer, and I’m currently paying a separate subscription for the NowTV package, but other than that, the rest are not hugely enticing, but catch-up functionality is definitely a good addition.
I was offered a free trial of TalkTalk’s ‘PictureBox’ boost package a couple of months ago which provides a select of on-demand movies for £5 per month. Whilst the selection when I last looked at it during my trial included some good movies, many I had seen via Freeview before. I wouldn’t recommend the PictureBox service to anyone. I hope it improves in the future, but NowTV on-demand movies at an extra cost, satisfies my movie addiction!
Now let’s move onto the boost channels, which are basically channels streamed via to you via the internet. With the Plus TV package I have Sky 1 & 2, Living, LivingIT and Arts 1 & 2 bundled. Without the ability to set a timer, unless a show is later available via catch-up you have to watch it live. Have plans? Tough. Apparently at some stage you will be able to record the boost channels for later viewing, but this update hasn’t been forthcoming, which is a shame.
As mentioned via my package I can catch up with some of Sky’s recent TV shows via the ‘Sky On Demand’ functionality, which I only recently discovered. Did I miss an email? It appears it has been available to me, as part of my package for a few months. D’oh! Had I known, I would of been using it. I do think TalkTalk need to make their sales pages clearer.
Since I’ve subscribed to the Plus TV package from TalkTalk, the pricing has increased. I know YouView is getting a lot of press and subscribers, but it isn’t a ‘must have’ service. I’ve got no current interest in leaving and definitely don’t want to leave to join similar bundled services from BT or Sky.
I see too many people complaining about YouView via TalkTalk when they obviously have aerial, broadband or internal network issues. Without any of those being satisfactory, my YouView experience would be appalling. This means that if you run into problems and you are not technical minded, you could be in for some headaches.
Apart from the lack of boost record functionality and my monthly hardware reset, I guess I can’t complain. Should the YouView hardware and package in general from TalkTalk it be better? I guess, but it is okay. On the whole, I’m a happy customer, but hope additional improvements are rolled out.