Best YouView Box – [BEST IN THE UK 2020]
If the word “YouView” leaves you thinking “you what?”, that’s quite understandable given that the switch to digital TV has brought with it all kinds of new options to the point where people could easily get confused, so let us explain.
YouView is basically a service which combines Freeview (which has 70 or so free-to-air) options, with the option to access internet-based, video-on-demand services, most of which are free. The free options include:
BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5 and milkshake! plus STV and S4C
UKTV Play – (Dave, Yesterday, Really and Drama)
You can also expect to get access to Netflix and Now TV Cinema, although you would need to pay for these services. At this point in time Sky does not support the Entertainment, Kids or Sports passes on YouView and it’s an open question as to whether they will do so in the future. Many YouView boxes also support Amazon Video and YouTube and it’s a fair bet that if any major new video streaming platforms come along, YouView boxes will start to support them (it would almost certainly be in the interests of both parties).
If you’re asking yourself why you would want to bother paying for a YouView box instead of just using a mobile device or computer screen, the answer is that it provides a much higher level of viewer experience. In particular, computer screens are designed for close viewing while TV screens are designed for viewing at a distance. So, for example, you’d have to hold a smart device close to your eyes, or sit at a table or desk to see a larger computer screen, whereas you could sit on a sofa or lie in bed to watch a TV. This also makes it much easier to watch TV socially, which is great for families and also a good option for people who like having friends around.
For the sake of completeness, we’d like to point out that YouView is essentially an upgrade to Freeview and therefore requires a decent regular TV signal as well as a broadband internet connection. If you’re in an area where regular TV reception is poor to non-existent, then you’d need to look at Freesat rather than YouView.
So if you’re now sold on the idea of YouView here are what we think are the three best YouView boxes.
Best YouView Box – BEST IN THE UK
BT Ultra HD YouView Box UHD DTR-T4000
There are two reasons why BT is probably very motivated to provide good support for YouView. First of all, BT offers subscription content services and hence wants to make it as easy as possible for people to access them and secondly streaming video over the internet requires a broadband internet connection which BT is happy to provide. You’d therefore expect them to provide decent YouView boxes and indeed they do.
The good news is that you don’t have to have either a BT internet connection or a BT content subscription to use this set-top box, although if you do have a subscription, you’ll get extra content. Many people, however, just choose this box as it offers very solid performance for a very reasonable price.
The 1T hard drive provides ample storage space for your viewing pleasure and the twin tuner means that you can either watch one show and record another or record two shows. It’s easy to navigate through menus and programme guides and the box is quiet in operation. Our one minor complaint about this BT box is that it requires a wired internet connection, but it’s not a deal breaker.
- Amazing UHD clarity and detail (with BT Subscription)
- Easy to use and slick menu system
- YouView 7-day rollback EPG with access to On Demand library
- Pause, rewind and record up to 300 hours of TV
- Requires internet access to setup. WiFi NOT supported, connection via ethernet cable to router is required To receive BT SPORTS requires BT...
Humax DTR-T2000 500GB YouView Receiver with HD
Humax has become the major player in the world of set-top boxes (no pun intended) and it has built its reputation on providing premium boxes for a premium price, because of this, we’re slightly disappointed that this is another set-top box which requires a wired connection, but we can live with it.
Setting that aside, the premium price gets you a 500GB hard drive on which to record with your twin tuners (so again you can either watch one show and record another or record two shows). It also gets you all your YouView bases well and truly covered in style and you can always depend on the picture quality.
One of the main reasons why Humax has built up such a fan base is because the company obviously grasps how people actually use its devices and makes it easy for them to do whatever it is they want to do. Navigating your way around your content is a breeze and it’s often little touches here and there, which add up to a big difference, like the remote having a dedicated FreeView Play button.
- 500GB Hard Drive Disc up to 300 hours recording time. Access over 70 channels of digital TV and radio from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5,...
- Please be aware that this unit requires an Ethernet cable to connect to the internet and does not have Wifi.
- YouView seamless on screen TV Guide Scroll backwards and forwards in time
- Pause, record and rewind live TV
- Access a wide range of films with Sky Store & NOW TV powered by Sky Subscription
Panasonic DMR-HWT150EB Smart 500 GB HDD Recorder with Freeview Play
This Panasonic device isn’t actually billed as a YouView Box, but since it offers exactly the functionality we’d expect from a YouView Box, namely Freeview plus access to video-on-demand apps over an internet connection, as far as we’re concerned, that’s what it is and it’s very good too.
What we particularly like about this set-top box is the fact that Panasonic has implemented the option of Long Record mode, which essentially slows down the recording speed to give you the equivalent of a 1T hard drive. Before you get too excited about this, however, we do have to say that we’d expect this to result in some loss of picture quality which might be noticeable when watching content with a lot of special effects, but it should be just fine for regular content. As this device has a twin tuner, you can watch one programme and record one programme or record two programmes at once.
In addition to watching Freeview and video-on-demand services, you also have the option to watch content held on your mobile device, assuming it’s compatible with Miracast or to have the box broadcast to your smart device for when you just have to watch something live.
This box has a nicely intuitive interface and there are lots of handy navigation features to help you get to your favourite content in the shortest, possible time. Last, but by no means least, this box does work over Wi-Fi.
- Double your recording capacity with Panasonic's Long Record feature
- Record up to 341 Hrs in HD vs 129 hrs in normal mode. Compatible with FULL HD 3D Camcorder. Compatible with Android devices, Ver.4.2 and above and...
- Catch Up TV - BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and All 4
- Never miss a thing with series link function. Tuner System: DVB-T2 x 2. Channel Coverage: UHF(21-68)
- 8 day forward an 7 day backward programme guide