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YouView viewed by public for first time in 350 homes

YouView, the next generation of Freeview box for online telly and catch-up, is being tested in 350 homes.

Members of the public have sat down to watch YouView for the first time. The next generation of Freeview box for online telly and catch-up is being tested in hundreds of houses.

YouView, formerly known as Project Canvas, is a collaboration between the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel Five, TalkTalk, BT and Arqiva to build a set-top box that pipes Freeview channels and online catchup from the Internet to your telly.

We spoke to YouView at the start of this month, when we learnt YouView boxes were being tested in the homes of people close to the project. And the service is now being tested in 350 homes, collecting the "feedback we need to allow us to extend to thousands of homes in the coming weeks with a launch to follow in due course".

If the trial is extended in the next two months, those thousands of people will get to watch the London 2012 Olympics, no less.

The sooner the better, we say. YouView has been in development for more than three years -- three years in which Sony, Panasonic, Samsung and the rest have been improving their own smart TVs.

On top of that, the market has filled with rival online services such as Sky and its forthcoming online service Now TV; the BBC's iPlayer and its forthcoming online archive Project Barcelona; plus Netflix and Lovefilm. Not to mention a little outfit called Apple that's reportedly about to shake up the TV market.

YouView is currently run by Lord Sugar, the bolshie boardroom baron from TV's The Apprentice.

The YouView set-top boxes will have at least 320GB of storage, two tuners, HDMI and Wi-Fi inside them. They're expected to cost about £200, but will be cheaper if you get them through a broadband provider.