Actual Hands On : YouView Humax DTR-T1000 Freeview Dual Tuner + IP TV
In the last few months I’ve been part of the YouView Humax DTR-T1000 beta testing so unlike other reviews this is an actual, proper hands on review complete with videos and images you simply won’t find on those other review sites which simply re write press releases. This is a long one so you’ll want to grab a beverage before reading.
It’s been a hell of a ride for YouView to come to a stage where it’s finally been released and available for sale on the shelves at most electronic retailers. The long journey is brilliantly chronicled over at Wikipedia and well worth a read to see how Youview has progressed from conception to reality.
YouView Humax DTR-T1000 Hardware Specs
What we have here is a twin Dvb tuner (freeview) pvr recorder, supporting hd and streaming on demand playback from our uk main broadcasters. High definition freeview, red button services and 500gb of storage is provided which roughly nets you roughly 300 hours of standard definition or 125 hours of high-definition content (HDMI cable is provided).
Wireless connectivity isn’t included but what you do get an option for 2 power line ethernet cables letting you connect to the internet via power outlets in the house. You do pay a small £40 premium to get this with your YouView box but I suppose it removes any dodgy signal issues in a building.
Connection wise on the back we have HDMI, Scart, RGB, RJ45, SpDif RF and a usb port on the back so like most freeview boxes of this ilk, you’re covered for connections.
The actual housing on the YouView box is covered with a special type of finger mark attracting finish but something like this is hardly going to be something you touch often. Looks wise its ok, not overly bad-looking with the only main detractor being a retro style VDF or vacuum style display (thanks ezra) in orange. Thankfully it’s not bright enough be piercing like the Apple TV. That orange VFD display does scroll show information all the time with no way of disabling it in any of the system preferences.
Other reviews have mentioned that small fan to make quite a bit of noise, Thankfully on my unit there’s no complaining about noise levels.
YouView Startup Times
Starting up from cold comes in 2m 14s with eco settings set the to default of high. Interestingly in the settings menu there’s no medium option, just low or high. With the unit in power saving mode it’ll still record programs silently with only the orange glowing ring to let you know there’s still power going to the uni.
You’ll only find 2 eco modes on the box at the time of writing, simply high or low.
Eco Mode High:
Power comsumption in standby: Less than 1 Watt
Boot up time: 2 mins 13 secs
Shut down to full standby: 6 mins 7 secs
Eco Mode High – with RF Loop thru enabled:
Power consumption in standby: 4 Watts
Boot up time: 2 mins 13 secs
Eco Mode Low:
Power consumption in standby: 16.2 W
Boot up time: 26 secs
16watts could be seen as quite high. A playstation 3 on idle is 1w, xbox 360 is 2w and as soon as I have stats from Humax other offerings I’ll have this post updated. Right that’s the box covered. Onto the remote.
The Dog Training Remote Control
The remote control is a sign that perhaps development costs were slashed or simply some way to save money on the project. Plus points are that the remote feels nicely weighted, SOME buttons have a nice feel to them, logical layout but cheapness rears its head in the form of when you come to press certain buttons. It’s not easy to describe the sound of the buttons on rockers but think of something like a dog training clicker.
For a weighty remote button presses feel hollow with the clicks echoing / reverberating inside the remote. This isn’t the same for all the buttons just the ones which are rocker based (volume up down, channel up / down etc).
Interacting with the middle circle is the worst of all. Down presses seem to feel deeper than other buttons and that silver circle is plastic, a special cheap tatty style of plastic that you know with prolonged usage it’ll start flaking. So close yet so far to being a decent remote when you compare to a Microsoft or sky style remote. Everything you need to do navigation wise is click, clack, clack noisy intrusive experience to an extremely annoying and distracting level. Want to use Youview whilst your partner is sleeping, or wake the neighbours for that matter, forget it, those buttons will wake them.
If was ever a product that where someone said “put this thing out to tender and let’s see what the come back with this is it. Even if you get used to the noise there are remote control inconsistencies”. I put this in the covered in the On Demand section so you get a feel for how the remote changes depending on what you use and where.
The YouView Guide.
It’s a bit of a looker the guide, working well on the whole 10ft menu basis. For those who unfamiliar with saying the 10th interface is designed to be used when sitting on your sofa. Microsoft’s Media Centre set a high bar for this which YouView nicely does its own take on.
During the beta phase guide navigation was scrolling the guide around the bar and not the other way round. The latest firmware update has brought back the more familiar interface. Despite a newer firmware update, attempt to scroll or navigate around too fast and you’ll be waiting for the screen to refresh and content to load.
Jumping between sub menus you do see a small loading icon now and again whilst its pulling the content from the internal hdd. Perhaps the age of channel flicking is long dead since the demise of analogue broadcasts in the uk and that lag when surfing content is a fair price to pay for more channels. Freeview boxes in general suffer from this in general it’s not bad, just not as responsive as say my fully fledged HTPC running Media centre (that cost just about the same money). Be ready to wait again if you get overzealous on the keypressing whilst the system catches up.
Looks wise it’s an improvement in my opinion over the best of them all, windows media centre. I don’t understand why there’s “dumb text” of “To watch press ok.” Perhaps a bit of credit is due to people that not all of us are idiots. After all if you understand TV on demand, iPlayer and internet tv then some on-screen clutter could be dispensed with.
Hitting I on the remote on the guide gives you 2 tabs at the top, summary and details. If you were to compare this to Windows Media Centre you’d find it lacking as it doesn’t provide actors or a huge synopsis but did many people really use that information? (update) A software update introduced the mini guide described below just after writing this. Looking ominously under set recording are those blank buttons that may one day find some usage.
YouView’s guide lets you revisit the past. That’s handy if you just caught the tail-end of a show and want to schedule a repeat or an alert for the next time it comes on. Not only that if a program has On Demand Content you can reach via contextual menus. So there’s been a show in the past, if Online content is available you get to watch from that detailed tab. Getting back to the present is a simple case of pressing the green button whilst on the guide.
Oddly enough all the Top-UP TV channels are missing. I know this is no signal issue as I can receive these channels as my other box picks them up just fine. Wonder why that is? There are issues with PayTV Channels in general and that doesn’t include a simple omission of a Common Interface slot.
Another nice guide feature is the promotion of HD channels. If a program is available in its HD counterpart you’ll be prompted to choose between resolutions. You could argue that it’s another click that get’s in the way as after choosing HD or SD you still choose between recording once or whole series. Let’s just hope HD content stars coming along sooner than later.
Basic Guide Features Are Missing
The Humax DTR-T1000 has proved to have a more than capable tuner, picking up a good amount of channels despite me using a booster and living on the wrong side over a hill. Seriously I can walk 20 yards up a hill and see the mast for my area but I still need my antenna on a mast with a booster to get a signal. Yet despite that the tuner picks up all of the channels for my area, including those *specialist* entertainment channels.
So those missing basic features of an EPG guide like hiding channels or creating kid friendly favourites so you can hide / remove those channels is bewilderingly missing.
YouView Guide Searches.. Kinda
Want to find a show for scheduling, watching etc search won’t list guide content. Searching for content is an online only thing. So if you want to search through the recordings without going heading back to the MyView screen then you’re out of luck. What do you get is rather nice sub menu context display.
In this example entering GO, with content still happily playing in the background, populates a small bar based on predictions above the box. Think along the lines of predictive text on a phone. Pressing up, clicking on search then show what online content there is available. It’s a nice unique touch but why not include local content
As you can see there are 2 shows and navigating between the 2 shows uses a card shuffling effect which is another nice touch of garnish. Once you selecting the show takes you to the on-demand stream instead of bouncing you to the providers on-demand page and then starting the searching process again.
Well, Book Me (via the green button)
This is a nice feature that crept up on me that I wasn’t aware of as you don’t get things like this on a HTPC setup. On BBC Channels during a promotion for a program Book Me, appears at the top left bringing up the below dialogue options.
Not All FreeView Channels Are Compatible.
Like I said earlier ESPN isn’t viewable at all although shows you channel information in the guide. Trying to view ESPN rewards you with a blank screen. All PPV channels have the same effect. This criticism isn’t fully levelled at the YouView box but does goes to show how splintered Freeview in itself has become. Freeview + IPTV is a great idea as YouView is demonstrating but surely coming in at £299 all channels including at least the ability to watch ESPN should be available. Oh and don’t confuse this with FreeView + which is also another Freeview platform.
At the time of writing this review (before the official launch date) Channels that wont work with the YouView HD freeview box are
034 – ESPN, A lovely black screen greets you when you try to view.
110 – Vision : Shows a message saying box is not compatible
111 – cctv : Shows a message saying box is not compatible
112 – sport : Shows a message saying box is not compatible
116 – Racing Tv : Shows a message saying box is not compatible
TopTV or any PayTV channels
117 The Space : Guess what…
Ok so those arent deal breaking channels yet this is a new box and surely should be supporting them from the go. The last thing anyone needs is if they wanted these channels is yet another box. You could place the same argument about freesat / freeview / sky yet let’s not forget YouView is coming in at the top end of the price bracket.
YouView MyView (Recorded Programmes).
Despite the large hard drive unit included in the YouView unit expect it to get full rather rapidly if you aren’t careful. This is down to rather weak recording options. You have a choice of recording this showing, or recording the whole series. That’s it. Fine you might think, record the series just to be safe, however….
Recording a whole series doesn’t discriminate between a new showing and a repeat showing to a certain extent. In one instance of recoding a series, a first airing was recorded, YouView skipped the repeats shown on time shifted (+1) channels on that day but then recognised the repeat recordings on +1 channels on a different day and grabbed them as well.
Conflicts are dealt with in the standard resolution dialogue so thankfully dual tuners minimise this and with those +1 channels, TV on demand you should be seeing this a lot less. Even if you miss a channel then with the guide seeing the past, there’s a good chance of catching up on an on-demand offering.
So finally we’ve navigated the menus, setup some recordings and so it’s time to finally kick back and watch some TV goodness from the armchair. Recorded programs are nestled within the MyView menu on the front end of the menu.
It’s also been doubled on on just how you get to recordings. Either press ok on the big MyView button or navigate upwards to get to the same place. It’s a feeling of a touch overdoing it as for one the less key presses or removing an impression of having to do more work than is actually required to get to the same menu is always welcomed.
Neat touches here include sorting by Date, program name, watched, not watched and locking a program so you don’t poke out the tab like on old VHS tapes so prevent deletion or recording. Locking a recording isn’t pin protected meaning that anything recorded from”specialist” channels will be open viewing to all.
Some missing playback features
A lot of freeview, PVR units share one thing in common. Skip forward, fast, faster, faster forward and the same for rewind. For some reason skipping functions aren’t available when watching a recorded program but are available when going On Demand.
Again other units have a tried and tested system of when you’ve reached the fastest point on the remote control, another button press takes you back to playing speed so you don’t have to move your finger to get to that critical bit. It’s not a biggie but when you are accustomed to something it’s another thing to learn. Suddenly you end up needing to learn the remote for different areas of YouView.
YouView On Demand Offerings.
At the time of writing iPlayer, iTV Player, 40d and Five are available and just recently in the news Sky will bring their offerings to the Youview Platform. Sky Now joins the initial line up of iPlayer, iTV Player, 4OD and Faive (Sky Now On YouView Review). Right now there aren’t any more prospects who might join the YouView line up but you’d think that Netflix, LoveFilm or Film 4 could arrive sometime. Then again Sky are known for bartering hard on licence agreements so don’t expect them anytime soon.
With my net connection running at 4mb there or thereabouts depending on the wind, position of the moon and generally how it feels, things are certainly smooth enough browsing through players and channels. Transitions and menu selections are fluid enough but doesn’t feel like it’s a full 25fps experience at times. When the screen starts to get loaded up with graphics there’s a touch of lag that gets introduced. It’s by no means off-putting but it’s still noticeable especially but not overly detracting
When you watch an On Demand or catch up programme, your YouView box downloads the programme in advance so that it plays smoothly. I did reach out to ask how much is buffered but received no reply. When you are viewing on demand content there’s no buffering ahead like YouTube so it’s buffering the start but not from when you start watching.
This makes sense as imagine if you paused to take a telephone call, buffering continues in hd making the most of your internet allowance and as you can’t pick up from where you left off all that downloading is for nothing. Yup you read that right. Halfway through a program and need to drop out to do something else and want to continue from that point. That’s not going to happen. Find the channel/program, fast forward or skip to that point to continue.
Pre Show Adverts
Dear lord ITV. If I’ve selected iTV player, watched your splash screen whilst loading, then selected a channel that’s clearly under a big logo stating iTV please tell me why are you showing me more channel branding before running the adverts before letting me get on with what I wanted to do. Watch something. It comes across as being insecure as a network. People have short attention spans along side ever decreasing patience so putting all this fluff in the way makes it a challenge to get to content.
Obviously the BBC is exempt from any advertising yet I’m still irked with ITV but I should of known better when I did the round up of tv watching apps a while back. Channel surfing on demand content is as far away as they can make it.
ITV iPlayer More Advert notes
[iplayer youtube video here]
So you left that program and came back to watch it but you’re near the end and want to skip to that part. Bad news again. If you skip to the 3rd segment you’ll still be watching those adverts you skipped past.
40d fares better on the user interface but rolls 2 minutes of advertising before you get to view a damn thing. Initially I thought ok that’s fair enough for new content as people do have to make money yet it’s the same across the board. At least there’s no commercial interruption during programming
Lastly Demand 5, the one I’ve dreaded viewing the most after my run in with the iOS app. Thankfully Five OnDemand surprised me with minimal pre roll instead sticking with un-skippable commercials.
Adverts on streams are the price you pay for On Demand content.
BBC iPlayer on YouView
So you can see for yourself here’s a few minutes of footage of me poking around in the iPlayer on Demand section. Please note that at the time of recording my connection has been a bit flaky so this may not be at full speed when loading tiles but scrolling movements are box dependant.
Picking Up Where You Left Off
Here we get to see the divide between online web / app based offerings and that of Youview. Should you dive out of an online stream on BBC iPlayer, even if just back into the program selection menu, then go back into the stream you were watching you’ll be starting from the start. On the BBC iPlayer website / App it’s intelligent to know where to pick up from. Thankfully on the more it’s possible to time skip 15 or 30 seconds at a time to get to the point on which you left.
Again at the time of testing all of the on demand apps suffer from forgetting where you left and potentially where to pick up from.
Remote Control Inconsistencies.
Each on demand channel uses the remote buttons a differnet way. BBC iPlayer does the 15 or 30 seconds skip (covered below) which is just fine given the responsiveness of the YouView hardware lagging behind a touch at times. Head into iTV iPlayer and suddenly the buttons become true fast foward. On almost all remotes pressing once makes it go faster, another tap faster still, another tap it’s flat out and then one more takes you to normal play speed.
It’s understandable that different online platforms would choose to use buttons in a similar but different way yet if it were more consistent the overall experience wold be greatly increased. After all different functions does mean learning something new for every online player and then a different control set when playing back locally recorded programs.
Final thoughts you seem dot hae to learn the remote control at times on a per application basis and not a consistent way throughout using the device.
Different buttons doing different things is fine in a console game but I don’t think it translates well into the tv realm. Others might see things differently but with a game you play and become accustomed to controls etc
Final thoughts On YouView’s OnDemand offerings
Of course it would be too much to ask for a consistent user interface and navigation control style, remote control inconsistencies may be slightly annoying but nothing really insurmountable to take away from being the main task of watching catch-up TV. Bringing all these companies together in one environment is no small feat of achievement and so congratulations must go to YouView for finally achieving what they set out to do all those years ago.
There are a lot of neat touches and for me being able to see catch up programs in the guide to take you to that show is a winner and a huge plus. That’s a neat touch but then we come back to a different navigation style.
It’s much better proposition of catching up with programs I haven’t recorded rather than sitting in front of my computer or staring at the small screen of my iPad. Speed, latency and responsiveness of streaming verges on the great and never once incurred my wrath of impatience.
So you might be thinking to yourself for £299 I can roll my own media center and you could and get a lot more functionality like playing videos from your network etc. You’re right you can more but at the cost of a lot of effort and Windows 8 isn’t coming with media centre out of the box.
Another competitor is the Apple TV in some respects but that doesn’t offer catch up services or live TV (so far) but it does offer rentals, music, radio etc.
Presentation. Colors are good, layout is just about right so why not get transitions running smooth. Thats the thing that everyone with a half decent pocket-sized bit of technology is used to so why some slides, transitions and fades are jerkier than an underpowered PC leaves me bewildered. It’s another area of lag that detracts points from the score. All the little things mount up to tarnish the YouView idea.
A future for YouView?
I do have a slight reservations about the future of this system. We’ve all heard similar promises and hoped for something similar with Windows media Centre but never arrived or initial offerings left to fester, never being improved upon.
Back in March 2011 YouView released their API documentation (broadbandtvnews) but there’s already talk of Android powered set to boxes which opens up a whole new era of PVR + other stuff possible on the TV set. Humax who is behind the YouView box is also betting on Android as a future platform
is coming to the has arrived platform and that’s a big win if slightly costly and could potentially put off the LoveFilm and Netflix brigade..
Check With Your ISP Before Purchasing.
The last piece of the puzzle lies with the Internet service providers. At the moment on the 40 GB service that I have I was able to max it out with only a few hours of watching on demand TV a day. For those of you on cheap broadband packages be very careful.
Looking through Sky Now they say 10min of viewing = 110mb. That’s a pretty good all round figure. Round it off to about a 90 min film will grab about 900mb (variable bit rate). Easy to see how some broadband packages just aren’t going to work here.
Both launch partners British Telecom and Talk Talk are well renowened for offering cut price broadband and thats where I see a potential flaw. Both promote low-cost “get online” packages but 10gb really isn’t much when it comes to streaming and once you max out your allowance, extra usage comes at a premium. If I was a conspiracy theorist type I’d say perhaps that’s where they claw some money back from these charges.
Final Final YouView Thoughts.
There is an awful lot like about this product, everything comes together in a common sense style even if some of the navigation choices are a little suspect. Setup goes without a breeze with the dual tuners doing a great job of picking up channels available in my area even going through a booster that I have to use.
Some tweaking is still needed on the UI side of things. Some areas just lack that smooth transition which we come to expect in this iPhone era. None of those fancy UI elements are bad per say but you know it’s not.. quite… there at times.
However after several weeks of testing that darn remote is now driving me mad. It’s absurdly clicky and clackey using the main navigation wheel is a stiff chore. That ring around the directional buttons just doesn’t add anything to the experience. But that noise…arggh, there really is no “getting used to the nose”. It might pass the WAF (wife acceptance factor) but you end up not watching to touch the remote for when the dog starts barking. I’m all for noise and tactile feedback BUT done discretely.
This is probably being with the longest reviews I’ve ever done. If you’ve made it this far thank you very much for reading to the end.
October YouView Firmware Updates.
- Digital surround sound over optical
- Skip buttons to “slide” along the timeline
- Folders (Basic)
- Edit channel list is there (although only to delete)
23rd August – YouView NDA lifted
LCD display changed to VFD display.(thanks to Ezra for correction)
Book This feature added.
Basic EPG features missing (thanks to gomezz for the nudge)
Added Power Modes
Milkshake Arrives on Demand. (screenshot soon)
YouView Firmware Updates
Youview Automatic Software Update October 2012
This software upgrade will include the following updates:
- Faster start up time when your box is in Standby and when switched off for an extended period (e.g. overnight)
- The option to change the Auto-Standby setting to 12 Hours, with a choice of 2, 3, 4 and 12 Hours available
- Recordings grouped by series in MyView to make it easier to find what you are looking for
- A new padlock symbol to help identify which of your recordings are locked to prevent automatic deletion.
- A reduced number of button presses to open MyView from the main menu
- Surround sound capability on the YouView box (when connecting with S/PDIF)
- Skip functionality to allow you to skip forwards 60 seconds or backwards 15 seconds while watching your recordings or live TV (if you have paused/rewound)
- The ability to select a start point when playing a recording
- Red Button prompts on BBC channels can now be hidden using the green button on your remote control
- The ability to hide and restore channels in the YouView Guide
- A message to remind you that if you have pressed the TV button on your Humax remote control, you will need to press the PVR button to continue using YouView.
- EPG: duration shown of highlighted programme in the guide
- EPG: minor adjustment to layout of programme name within its table cell
- Better font and highlight contrast in guide
- Recordings list: one button delete of recordings
- Recordings list: one button resume of playback of recordings
YouView Automatic Software Update November 2012
New software for the YouView Humax box is now available for Retail and BT customers, the software will be available on YouView TalkTalk boxes shortly afterwards.
This software release includes a number of improvements including:
- A fix for viewers who experienced a loss of channels. Please ensure that your box has received this software and then perform a manual channel re-tune. (You can do this by navigating to Settings, TV Signal & Quality, Re-tune Channels)
- A fix for a problem where occasionally selecting programmes currently broadcasting on live TV through the guide would not work as expected
- ITV Player now appears in the on-demand players section for the small number of viewers in the South East who previously could not access this player
- Improved reliability for series recordings
- Improvements relating to on-demand portals
Automatic Software Update December 2012
This software release includes functionality to connect your YouView box to the new YouView App which is available to download from the Apple App Store
The YouView app available for Apple devices (iOS 5 or later), provides you what’s on TV and radio over the next 7 days, provides additional programme information and lets you record a show while on the move.
A software update for the YouView Huawei box from TalkTalk will begin on Wednesday 12 th December between 2am – 3am. To find out more Click here and this will then enable access to the YouView App.
We are looking to develop versions of the YouView App to be compatible with other mobile device operating systems in the future, e.g. android phones.
If your box is connected to the Internet and has not been switched off either at the plug socket or via the switch on the back of the box then the update will be automatically downloaded overnight.
You can check if you have the latest version by pressing the YouView button on your remote control, navigate to Settings > System Information > Software Versions.
If you see the following, then you have successfully upgraded and do not need to do anything else:
Automatic Software Update January 2013
This software release includes a number of improvements including:
- The introduction of Live TV content into the Search Function.
You will be able to search for programmes from the Guide that are on-air now or on-air within the next 7 days. The results will appear in a separate ‘On Now & Next’ tab and when selecting a programme from the results that’s on-air now, you have the option to tune to the channel. If it hasn’t aired yet, you have the option to set a recording or a reminder. On Demand results will be presented as they are currently in an ‘On Demand’ tab. (Tabs will be hidden when they don’t contain any results)
- Support for Dolby surround sound over HDMI.
You will be able to enable surround sound over the HDMI connecter through a new setting.
- Addition of an HDMI setting to allow you to address problems that some TV sets may encounter when connecting via HDMI. The HDMI Display Setting (under TV Signal & Quality) allows you to set an output preference of 1080p, 1080i, or 720p.
YouView Automatic software update February 2013
The introduction of a new setting to enable a recording deletion confirmation message. This setting enables a confirmation message whenever you try to delete a recording in MyView. To enable this, go to Settings > Device Management > Delete Recordings Confirmation and choose ON. (The default is OFF).
- An improvement to the Audio description volume level when viewing HD channels.
- A fix to correct the box time from being reset to 1 st Jan 2000 until the box is next restarted.
- A fix to address the small number of cases where all booked recordings failed. In some rare circumstances (e.g. when a device was powered off due to a temporary interruption in the mains power supply) the box failed to wake up correctly, resulting in all recordings failing
Automatic software update March 2013
This release resolves a possible scenario where some boxes may lose network settings or fail to enter maintenance mode.