TalkTalk YouView review

A Freeview box is normally just a plain old Freeview box, but YouView is a little different. The big selling point of this set-top box is its catch-up and on-demand features. Many smart TVs and Blu-ray players have access to these features but rarely more than one or two any typically just BBC iPlayer.

However, TalkTalk YouView has managed to offer all of the big name services: BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD and Demand 5. Furthermore, there is Sky Now TV and Milkshake, a dedicated kid's channel from Channel 5. These are all free except Now TV which as standard costs £15 per month.

See also: BT YouView Humax DTR-T1000 review.

It's worth pointing out that 4OS on YouView is the full on-demand service rather than just seven day catch-up with back catalogues of shows like Peep Show and Green Wing. See also: all digital home reviews.

You can access all of these from an on-demand section of the software but what is a clever new concept is that you can access available shows straight from the electronic programme guide (EPG). You can scroll back through the last seven days of TV and watch any show which is available via catch-up. Simply find a programme with a play icon and it will take you directly to the appropriate player so you can get watching.

Having both these options is great meaning you can use the on-demand apps like you would elsewhere to browse recommended and select favourite shows, but also simply watch things you missed.

TalkTalk YouView catch-up

All of these services require an internet connection so we were somewhat disappointed to find the TalkTalk YouView box had no Wi-Fi. Instead, the box used a physical ethernet connection which could be a pain, depending on the location of your router. TalkTalk says you need a broadband connection of at least 3Mbps for catch-up so it would be wise to check if yours will be able to handle it.

The YouView EPG is one of the best we've seen. It's big, clear and easy to use showing six channels at once and a period of 90 minutes so you can almost always see what's on next. Although it's easy to use, we did find the YouView box a bit laggy at times having to wait a few seconds to load certain sections.

As well as going back in time, it's also possible to jump forward seven days in the EPG to view upcoming shows and schedule recordings. Skipping forwards and backwards a day is done by pressing the fast-forward and rewind buttons on the remote control. If you get lost you can simply hit green to jump to the present.

TalkTalk YouView EPG

Recordings are neatly displayed in the MyView section in Recordings and Scheduled windows. The box helpfully tells you which are yet to be watched and groups series together. You'll have to be wary of the delete key as there's no prompt asking whether you're sure or an undelete function.

Next page: TalkTalk YouView - The box, TV Boosts, remote control and app.

TalkTalk YouView: The box

A very appealing thing about YouView is that TalkTalk will give you the box for free, although you have to pay a £50 fee for an engineer to install it. If you have an old router like we did, this will be upgraded for free. The only catch is that you need to be on TalkTalk's more expensive Plus package which costs £15.50 per month (not including line rental).

When compared with services like Sky and Virgin Media this is pretty cheap. TalkTalk Plus includes broadband and phone.

The box itself (made by Huawei) is good looking with one curved corner giving it a unique style. Build quality is distinctly plastic, though. A set of three lights in keeping with TalkTalk's blue and purple colour schemer sit on the front. The middle indicates power and when a show is being recorded, all three pulse in order.

A 500GB hard drive allows you to record two programmes at the same time. You can also watch a pre-recorded show while two are recording or access the on-demand features since they are streamed from the internet. Up to 74 Freeview channels are available including HD channels.

As you would expect you can choose to record a single episode or an entire series where appropriate. The YouView box will handily tell you if a programme or series is available in HD.

Physical ports include both HDMI and SCART outputs which means it doesn't matter if you have a new or old TV.

TalkTalk Youview: TV Boosts

TalkTalk's YouView service is largely the same as BT's. However, where BT offers its BT Vision service, TalkTalk has its own offering in TalkTalk Player which has its own button on the remote control. This allows users to optionally purchase extra bundles called TV Boosts costing between £5 and £30 per month.

There's a good selection on offer with the cheapest just adding a few channels from Sky. We tried out the entertainment boost for £10 per month which added both live and on-demand programming including Sky 1, Comedy Central, Fox, Gold and Discovery Channel.

TalkTalk YouView TV Boosts

If you have more money to splash then you can also opt for ESPN, Sky Movies and Sky Sports for £10, £15 and £30 respectively. This is one area where TalkTalk Player has one up on the BT version.

The main problem with the added channels is they are streamed via the internet and cannot be recorded onto the hard drive like regular Freeview. You'll need a 5Mbps broadband speed to stream the extra channels smoothly.

The TalkTalk Player is easily accessed via a large central button on the remote. However, it's a shame that the TV Boost channels are shown in a separate EPG to the regular YouView Freeview. It feels like you have two set-top boxes in one.

TalkTalk YouView: Remote control and app

A remote control is an important element for a Freeview box and the TalkTalk YouView comes with a pretty decent one. Buttons are easy to reach, spaced nicely apart and the device fits well in the hand.

One thing we couldn't understand is why the page up and page down buttons are place right at the bottom of the controller. These are used a lot to browse the EPG so should be placed with more importance. Even stranger is the fact that we eventually discovered that the channel up and down buttons do the same job.

How to record YouView TV shows from your smartphone or tablet

As well as the remote control there is an app which you can download. It’s a shame that this is only available for iPhone at the moment. It shows you the EPG like it would be displayed on your TV screen and you can even send requests to the box for recordings.

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TalkTalk YouView: Specs

  • 2x DVB-T2 Freeview HD tuners
  • 15-day EPG
  • Scroll back 7 days for BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five content
  • ethernet
  • HDMI
  • 500GB hard drive
  • Optional TV Boost channels including Sky
  • 2x DVB-T2 Freeview HD tuners
  • 15-day EPG
  • Scroll back 7 days for BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five content
  • ethernet
  • HDMI
  • 500GB hard drive
  • Optional TV Boost channels including Sky


Aside from a couple of small niggles, YouView on TalkTalk is an excellent set-top box option. It combines Freeview TV with catch-up superbly well and, for those with more cash, gives the option of adding bundles like Sky Sports into the mix. At £15.50 per month with unlimited broadband and phone, it's great value too.

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