IP Vision has announced a new hybrid set-top box which can be used to access the complete range of Freeview channels, acts as a digital video recorder (DVR), as well as being able to access a range of video on demand content over the Internet.
The company is keen to point out that this is a subscription-free, operator independent service, unlike those from the likes of BT, Virgin Media and Tiscali. It can be used with any broadband provider.
At launch, over 1,200 hours of content will be available in the VoD library including films and programmes from Paramount, ITV, Turner Broadcasting, Eagle Vision, Fremantle, Entertainment Rights and Aardman.
The box itself costs £149.99 with discounts available (£129.99 initial offer, as you can see from the stars plastered all over the image). Films cost between £1.99 and £3.50 depending on how current the title is, while TV episodes cost 99p. Content has to be watched within 24 hours of it first being played, just as with BT Vision.
The box is HD-ready though there doesn't appear to be any high definition content available at present.
The idea sounds good, particularly if you don't want a more expensive broadband package or to be tied in to one provider, so long as the company can continue to source decent content to watch.
The STB's hard drive is fairly meagre, only about to record about 40 hours worth of digital TV. However, unlike most other standard digiboxes, it can export programmes to a USB stick.
One thing that concerns me is the amount of bandwidth that will be consumed by this service. Though the example given shows that BT Vision is significantly more expensive than using FetchTV on Tiscali broadband, for example, the whole point is that VoD content downloaded from BT doesn't count towards your monthly bandwidth allowance, mainly because it's pay-per-view. With FetchTV, you're paying a third party to download video and still potentially incurring the wrath of your broadband provider or eating into your allowance.
The boxes are available to buy now online, and will hit high street retailers early next year.