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Humax to launch first Freeview Play boxes

Humax first to announce equipment for the new Freeview on-demand service

Humax claims it will be the first manufacturer to launch set-top boxes based on the forthcoming Freeview Play service. Freeview Play is, as the name suggests, a free-to-air on-demand and catch-up television service which is expected to launch this summer. 

The Freeview Play line-up will include the BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and 4oD and will also allow viewers to “rewind” back through the electronic programme guide (EPG) so that they can stream shows on-demand if they missed the live broadcast.

Humax says it will offer two different versions of its Freeview Play set-top box, a 500GB model capable of storing 300 hours of television shows, and a 1TB version which (as the mathematicians in the readership may already have calculated) will store 600 hours. The boxes will include Wi-Fi receivers for accessing the internet television services.

Freeview vs YouView vs Freesat: what’s next for free-to-air?

Details are otherwise sparse, with Humax saying it will reveal more details about the precise specification of the boxes and prices closer to the launch date, which will be “in the coming months”.

Freeview Play will be built into both smart televisions and set-top boxes. Panasonic has previously announced plans to incorporate Freeview Play into its Viera range of smart televisions, and says it too will launch set-top boxes at a later stage.

Play will allow Freeview to make up lost ground on rival YouView, offering features – such as the on-demand playback and rewindable EPG – that have been offered in YouView boxes for some time. YouView has come to be dominated by BT and TalkTalk, who offer set-top boxes to customers who take television services with their broadband. BT is in the process of migrating its BT Vision customers over to YouView, and was recently helped by a court decision that forced Sky to offer BT some of its sport channels for YouView customers.

Freeview, on the other hand, is supported by a wider range of manufacturers, who embed the free-to-air service into their own equipment. Freeview manufacturers have much greater control over the user interface that is offered to customers, whereas YouView boxes all offer a relatively uniform interface that is designed and modified by YouView itself. 


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