Many critics have said that YouView is too little, too late. The combined Freeview HD and on-demand TV service was supposed to launch around years ago, but has suffered from various delays. It officially launched back in July 2012, but BT's YouView box on review here didn't arrive until November.

BT uses the same Humax DTR-T1000 set-top box that you can buy from the shops, but you get an extra menu item: BT Vision. We'll look at this on-demand video service later on.

See also: all digital home reviews

BT YouView: catch-up TV

The main reason to get a YouView box as opposed to a run-of-the-mill Freeview HD recorder is to access catch-up TV services from BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five. Of course, just about every new TV and set-top box, even Blu-ray players, has an internet portal where you can watch some on-demand video from YouTube, iPlayer and others.

However, what none have managed so far is to combine all the services we've just listed into a coherent interface. That's precisely what YouView is all about.

It lets you watch all broadcasts that are available on-demand from the four main providers from the last seven days. One way to do this is to bring up the EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) and scroll back in time until you find what you're looking for. Programmes that are available on-demand have a little play icon so it's obvious what you can and can't watch.


It's very easy to jump to the previous or next day, and the guide itself is one of the best we've seen. It's big, easy to read and shows six channels at once, over a 90-minute period. Navigating is supremely easy thanks to a calendar at the top which shows the day you're viewing, and it's fast at scrolling left and right as you navigate from the beginning to end of the day. There's a handy shortcut to jump back to the current time, which some PVRs lack.

If you don't know when a programme was shown, an easier way to find it is to use the search option from the main menu. This searches everything in one: TV shows yet to be broadcast, on-demand programmes, radio shows and even content available from BT Vision. You can filter results by each of these to narrow the list of results.

You have to enter letters using a mobile phone-style keypad on the remote, but usually the first few letters are sufficient.

Yet another way to browse catch-up TV is by using the Players menu option. You can choose iPlayer for example and use the familiar big-screen interface to browse the BBC's on-demand shows and search within it. Alternatively, you could browse by genre or choose the 'most popular' option to see a list of all catch-up TV ordered by popularity.

YouView Players

If you have young children, you'll particularly appreciate the inclusion of a dedicated Milkshake player for Channel Five. This includes all the popular kids shows and also have pre-made playlists which show episodes back to back. There's even a facility to make your own playlists.

Another extra player is Sky's Now TV. You can sign up for a 30-day free trial, but after this you'll need to pay £15 per month to watch movies. Essentially, it's an alternative to Netflix, Lovefilm and BT Vision's blockbuster services.

BT YouView: the hardware

We've always liked Humax PVRs, and the DTR-T1000 is one of the best yet. It looks sleek with just four touch-sensitive buttons and a large, central power button. At the bottom right is a hidden USB port which has no current use.

Internally there's a 500GB hard disk which is good for recording 300 hours of standard TV shows, or 125 hours of HD programmes. Currently you get four HD channels on Freeview: BBC One HD, ITV HD, Channel 4 HD and BBC HD.

You get an HDMI cable in the box, and that's what most people should use to hook the DTR-T1000 to their TV or home cinema amp. It supports 5.1 Dolby Digital on those channels which provide it. There's also a Scart output if you have an older TV, and even composite video.

Audio-wise, there's optical S/PDIF and stereo phono, if you're not going to take audio via HDMI. You'll also find Ethernet and USB ports, RF in and passthrough sockets, plus a hardware power switch at the rear.

The USB port is for an optional Wi-Fi dongle - it's a shame it isn't built in. However, BT supplies a pair of HomePlug adaptors so you can route an internet connection to the box even if your BT Home Hub isn't nearby. To watch on-demand shows, you'll need a minimum download speed of around 2Mbps, and around 3.5Mbps for HD shows.

By default, the box arrives with an Eco mode enabled. This sounds good, but when you put it into standby mode it takes a couple of minutes to turn back on (2 mins 10 seconds to be precise). That's not practical, so you'll quickly be switching that off and using the quick start-up option which uses a lot of power (16W), but means you have to wait 20-odd seconds instead. Crucially, the super-low-power model means the aerial pass-through doesn't work, so you won't get a signal on your TV unless the DTR-T1000 is on. All-in-all, that's pretty disappointing.

DTR-T1000 remote

The remote control, on the other hand, is excellent. It's comfortable to hold, perfectly weighted and has just the right number of buttons to give control, but without getting too confusing.

Next page: Interface and menus

BT YouView: interface and menus

To access the menu, you press the obvious blue YouView button in the centre of the remote. This brings up a minimal overlay, behind which whatever you're watching remains playing.

YouView Menu

You get to your recordings by selecting the MyView option. Here, you can see a neat list of recorded shows and which shows you've yet to watch. When browsing the EPG you can set a reminder to watch a show, or hit the record button to schedule it to record. Pressing record again will ensure the whole series is recorded. Unless you 'lock' recordings, the Humax will begin to delete them when the disk fills up, starting with the oldest watched programme.

You're prompted if a show is available in HD on another channel. The DTR-T1000 can record two channels at once while you watch something on-demand, or a previously recorded show.

YouView on-demand

When browsing on-demand TV, you see a thumbnail of the show you're watching in the top-right corner, and a series of thumbnails across the middle for the shows on offer. At the bottom is two-tier menu which takes a bit of getting used to as it works bottom-up, so you have to press up on the remote to select an option in the upper sub-menu. Then, you press up again to select a show, scrolling left or right to move to others.

The only time the interface loses its consistency is when you select an on-demand player as each service has its own interface. They're all easy to use, but it's a shame these haven't all been forced to adopt the YouView interface.

One bonus is that the players allow you to watch content that's not in the EPG. Using Channel 4's, you can watch many series from the start, such as The IT Crowd and Peep Show. That's a feature most TV and set-top box portals lack.

Frustratingly, subtitles aren't available for most on-demand shows. This isn't YouView or BT's fault, though, as it relies on the providers to supply them. Technically, it's possible to display subtitles, but anyone who generally relies on subtitles is likely to be disappointed.

The quality of recorded HD shows is spectacular, with all the detail from the original broadcast. When it comes to on-demand, quality is determined by the provider, as well as the speed of your internet connection. You can opt to watch some shows in HD, but that option isn't available in every player (iPlayer offers it on most shows).

If you're upgrading from an older Humax PVR, you might be disappointed by the absence of certain advanced menu options. For example, while you can edit the channel list, you can't set up favourites lists. You can't add padding to scheduled recordings, neither can you manually schedule recordings. The box won't suggest alternative showings of programmes when there's a clash (i.e. both tuners are already scheduled to record at that time). Also, unlike Humax's HDR-Fox T2, which has all those features, you can't save recorded programmes onto a USB drive.

BT YouView box

BT YouView: BT Vision

BT Vision is a decent reason to get a YouView box from BT. It has a good range of on-demand TV shows and films, along with a pay-per-view list of new movies to watch. The interface has been updated recently and is now much better than before: it's easier to navigate.

YouView BT Vision

A new feature provides a list of recently watched videos, so you can carry on watching where you left off. Previously, although episodes would resume where you stopped them, you'd have to remember which one you were watching - not easy when you're half way through a box set of The Mentalist.

Another new feature 'For you' suggests other shows you might like to watch based on what you've chosen previously.

YOuView BT Vision content

You can choose different subscription levels for BT Vision, with the entry-level Essentials package costing £5 per month. For that you can watch everything on a pay-per-view basis with TV shows costing from 50p and 'box office' movies from £3.50. Vision Film isn't available.

The £12.50 per month Unlimited package is much better value as it includes everything apart from Box Office films. The standard Vision Film section is included, but stocks mostly older titles.

BT YouView: bottom line

BT's YouView box does a great job of combining Freeview HD with catch-up TV. The interface is the slickest around, and it's very easy to use. Unlike the old BT Vision box, the new one has a responsive remote control and didn't suffer from many glitches at all. We almost didn't mention any problems, as although the DTR-T1000 had a habit of freezing up and forcing us to cut the power and reboot it, these disappeared and it was smooth running from then on.

A companion smartphone or tablet app would be nice, to schedule recordings remotely and more easily search the library of catch-up TV and BT Vision content, but we're not holding out any hope of this materialising.

It's a shame there's no built-in Wi-Fi, and no DLNA support or capacity to play media from a USB drive (functions other Humax PVRs have), but what the DTR-T1000 does, it does well.

If you buy one off the shelf, a DTR-T1000 will cost you between £250 and £300. However, if you take out a 12-month BT broadband package, you can get it free. The only catch is that you have to pay a £49 activation fee, and delivery.

Humax DTR-T1000 YouView: Specs

  • 2x DVB-T2 Freeview HD tuners
  • 15-day EPG
  • Scroll back 7 days for BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five content
  • Dimensions: 380 x 246 x 55mm
  • 2x PLA powerline networking adaptors included
  • Network cables and HDMI cable included
  • 2x DVB-T2 Freeview HD tuners
  • 15-day EPG
  • Scroll back 7 days for BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five content
  • Dimensions: 380 x 246 x 55mm
  • 2x PLA powerline networking adaptors included
  • Network cables and HDMI cable included


If you want a PVR that will give you Freeview HD and catch-up TV all in one easy-to-use box, this is hard to beat, especially if you're getting it free with your broadband package. It's certainly worth having BT Vision as well, especially as more sports content is being added. Don't make the mistake of thinking this is a Humax HDR-Fox T2 with on-demand TV added. It isn't. It lacks quite a few advanced features that could put enthusiasts off, including the fact that it won't play videos from a USB drive.