BT Vision 2 box first look – best new features
What is BT Vision 2
BT recently invited us to their headquarters for a demonstration of their new BT Vision 2 service. We were keen to see what improvements and new features are available, particularly since BT’s Vision service has received mixed reviews from Which? readers.
We first heard whispers about BT’s plans to update to its seven year old BT Vision service and create BT Vision 2 back in May 2010. BT revealed that after trialling BT Vision 2 with a small number of customers, they will start rolling out the new service in a few weeks.
What’s new in BT Vision 2?
BT has redesigned the look and feel of the BT Vision menus and Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) to be easier to use and add new ways of finding TV shows and other content.
Amongst the catch-up TV services is the new and improved version of BBC iPlayer. BT has expanded the on-demand content on offer across TV, music and film. An improved music player is also included which lets you create your own playlists.
An upgrade will be available this summer to customers who already have the BT Vision box and new customers will be able to get a new box. Previously, BT Vision subscribers could record up to 80 hours of content, but this has been increased to up to 250 hours.
BT Vision 2 will be available with the recently simplified Vision package options: TV Essentials and TV Unlimited. TV Unlimited has the Freeview and catch-up TV access that come with Essentials, but also includes ESPN and on-demand content such as movies (optional on the Essentials package).
Five things we like about BT Vision 2
- New menu and program guide (EPG) design
BT has refreshed the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) so it has a new look – it’s crisp and clean. You can easily add favourite channels, denoted by a star icon, bookmark programmes you’re interested in to check later and access these from the main BT Vision screen.
- New search and recommendation features
There are new ways of finding TV shows, channels, movies and other content. You can find content a number of ways, browsing by channel, by subject such as comedy and drama, and even use a search option. It learns your preferences over time and offers you recommendations to watch based on your viewing habits, such as the type of programmes you view and at what times. For example, recommending a new drama program at 8pm or sport on a Sunday afternoon.
- More TV channels, movies and sport
More channels have been added with the likes of National Geographic, FX, UK TV Gold and Watch joining the line-up. The on-demand content has also been expanded, particularly the Film Club which includes a large library of movies and releases which are only a few months old. ESPN comes with the Unlimited package and BT has recently announced gaining Premier League coverage, which will start in August 2013.
- Easy ways to hide and PIN protect channels and content
Content filtering includes filtering options by content/age ratings, the option to delete/hide channels and a PIN protect function. This should make it easy to stop young children watching programs they shouldn’t.
- Quality playback of high definition movies
Playback of high definition movies, available as part of BT’s on-demand content, will be of a high quality because they will not be streamed. BT Vision 2 will be available to customers with a suitable Internet connection and high definition movies will be quickly downloaded from ‘the cloud’ – not streamed or liable to playback quality issues like buffering delays and pausing.
Elisa’s impressions of BT Vision 2
The Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) and content browser both look clean and seemed easy to use. I found it was easy to navigate and responsive, wasn’t slow or clunky, and I found there was no delay between pressing a button on the remote and this registering on screen. Compared to some of the EPGs found on set-top-boxes, it was a pleasure to use. Setting programmes or a series to record and tracking recordings also seems easier.
It feels like BT has designed it with a range of users in mind. I particularly liked the personalisation options such as adding favourite channels and bookmarking programmes or movies, as well as the content filtering options which seemed uncomplicated and both easy to enable and tweak. The accessibility options are also worth noting, which include subtitles and audio description – for some content, these can be enabled in one click.
As with BT Vision+ there is still no high definition television content. I understand that one reason for this is BT’s focus on delivering high-quality broadcasts and designing a better EPG for user-friendly browsing experience. However, on-demand HD movies are available to those with a suitable Internet connection and BT plan to offer HD content in 2013, by which time BT hope to have rolled out their new faster Infinity 2 Internet service to more customers.
I hope that the same attention to delivering a high quality and easy-to-use service will have been given to any new BT PVR hardware. In the 2010 the BT Vision+ box disappointed in the Which? test labs due to the fact you couldn’t view TV while recording two programmes, it only had a maximum of 80 recording hours available and it wasn’t particularly easy to use.
What makes a Best Buy PVR?
This is only our first impressions of the BT Vision 2 box based on a short amount of hands-on time. Before Which? can recommend any product we have to put it through our lab to see how well it performs in a range of rigorous tests. For more information read our how we test PVRs page or watch the video below.
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