YouView is here! After years in the works, Lord Sugar's joint effort between the BBC and assorted TV channels and broadband companies has yielded a set-top box that mashes up regular telly and online catch-up services in one black cuboid.
I tried it out today, and apart from the high price tag, I'm impressed. Click through our gallery to see YouView in action, and read on for all the details, including the price, release date -- and news of Sky shows coming to YouView too.
YouView is a collaboration between the BBC, ITV, Channels 4 and 5, BT, TalkTalk, Sharp and Arqiva. Bolshy boardroom blowhard Lord Sugar is the chairman, revealing the box today with a frank insight into the development and the future of the project.
The YouView box is a twin-tuner 500GB PVR that also accesses online services iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD and Demand5. It's also adding Scottish channel STV and Sky's forthcoming Now TV at some stage in the future. Netflix and other streaming services could be included in there too, putting an end to searching through different services for something to watch.
I tried out the first YouView box, built by Humax, and my first impressions are really positive. With a whopping £70m spent and seemingly endless delays we were concerned YouView could be a disaster, unable to do anything that smart TVs, Sky+, Virgin's TiVo, or services like iPlayer couldn't already do. But it's a smart piece of kit that effortlessly combines all these disparate services into one place.
From what I saw, the cleverest thing about YouView is the way it hides how clever it is. It's designed to be simple and straightforward, bringing online and catch-up telly to non-technical types, and it succeeds in that. Catch-up services are built into the programme guide, for example -- so instead of having to open a catch-up service like iPlayer to find your show, you just scroll back in time in the listings, find your show and start watching (almost) instantly.
All the shows from all the channels are in one place, so you can search everything from one search box, with loads of filters to help you discover new stuff to watch and listen to.
The first box goes on sale sometime in July, before the Olympics. But here's the bad news: the box costs £300. Yeesh!
That's clearly very expensive, even if it is designed to entirely replace your Freeview PVR. BT and TalkTalk plan to offer the box -- or a similar one with less or no PVR storage -- with broadband contracts, which will spread the cost, but they haven't yet confirmed details.
Look out for our full YouView preview with more specs and my first impressions in detail. What's your view of YouView? Can you see it replacing your Freeview, Virgin or Sky+ box? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.