My old Freeview set-top box was dying a slow and painful death. It kept restarting, the timer items were mysteriously disappearing and the tuner wasn’t very good. It had performed well in the past, but I needed stability, and some extra features would be welcomed as well.
Three months have drifted by since that decision. Was it wise?
Let’s deal with the negative first. The TalkTalk Booster packages are a joke, as you can’t currently record any shows and it is a bit of faff to find out what’s on (not currently integrated into the EPG guide). So planning on going out? Tough, unless there is a repeat of the show! I never had a problem with the viewing quality, just the lack of flexibility and functionality, which felt a step back. So at the first opportunity, I cancelled the ‘Starter’ boost.
At times the box feels sluggish to use, but then when I’m watching something I recorded, whilst it is busy recording two more shows, I realise it does pack some punch! That being said, I’ve found the hard drive (320GB I think) being used up quite quickly, and I can only imagine families struggling with available space. With HD content, I think TalkTalk should of supplied larger hard drives, even for an additional fee.
Whilst the tuner in this new Freeview box is superior to my old box, I relented and brought an aerial booster with a 4G filter, as my signal strength wasn’t great. I currently live in a flat, and decided not to go the aerial improvement route. TV aerial boosters don’t work for all, but as you can see from the screenshots (above is before, and below is after), it works well for me.
This is where many people fall over.
The Huawei dn370t box doesn’t have wireless hardware, so if your internet connection isn’t nearby, you have to opt to use powerline technology or adding a wireless router yourself (I’ve not tried that yet).
Many people struggle with Powerline network technology, instead blaming the ‘tools’, rather than realising their current setup isn’t suitable. I’ve opted to give the Powerline adapters their own power sockets, which solves many issues using the technology. I know others try to use Powerline adapters on extension leads / power blocks, which is a bad idea, and you definitely shouldn’t do this.
Am I using any of the internet TV services?
I’m a NowTV subscriber, so often use the NowTV app that is supplied with the box. However often the latest movies on the services fail to display. The workout around being log in via a web browser, start to play the NowTV movie and then log out. Then you should be able to view the movie under your recently watched list on the NowTV app via the Huawei box. Annoying, but at least it works.
Other than that, I occasionally use the BBC iPlayer and NowTV. The rest, I can’t be bothered with most of time. It is a shame they are not progressive and adding other services, such as LoveFilm, Netflix, TED Talks etc. In fact it is important you don’t get frustrated with the box, because it is capable of more, but due to commercial factors, I wouldn’t hold your breath on their inclusion (I hope to be proved wrong).
It is also important not to become frustrated at the lack of updates. Indeed TalkTalk recently went backwards by removing their ‘TV gift’ package from the service. Luckily I had already watched ‘Castle’ and ‘Community’ episodes before the removal. However luckily, the TV gift aspect of the service wasn’t one the reasons why I upgraded to the service. I can imagine this removal has left a bad taste in many a mouth!
I have low expectations for the future of YouView and for quick roll-out of updates from YouView and TalkTalk. However I appreciate the pace of updates is based on their commercial priorities, but I can see an opportunity missed here. That being said, the Freeview box, the wifi modem and the ADSL service I’ve found to be reliable.
It is all about requirements.
If you are interested in internet TV streaming services, a NowTV or Roku box are probably a wiser investment. For me, the Huawei dn370t box has a good EPG, has HDMI and the non-internet aspects are easy to use. Internet wise, the box has BBC iPlayer, 4oD, Five on Demand, MilkShake and Dave which are free to use. You can watch movies if you pay via NowTV and Lovefilm box office (not their instant service). Plus there are a number of ‘booster’ packages with channel bundles.
So whilst some would say ‘it makes your TV a smart TV’, there are better devices providing that functionality out there these days. For me, it was a good replacement Freeview HD box with some perks, which I currently feel are worth the monthly cost. I won’t be looking at the boosters again, unless they improve that aspect of the service.