UK-Based 3View Unveils HD Set-Top that Combines Internet Connectivity with Freeview Reception

A UK company called 3View unveiled a hard drive-equipped, broadband-connected HD set-top box, Tuesday, that combines the ability to receive standard- and high-definition linear-TV programming from the UK's free-to-air digital terrestrial platform, Freeview, with various Internet/OTT capabilities. The company says that the box--which is slated to be available in retail in March--will allow users to receive a range of over-the-top video services, as well as browse the Web and use Facebook and Twitter. It bills it as "the world's first Internet-connected HD free-to-air set-top box."

According to the company, the new box will allow users to access HDTV channels through a purpose-built EPG. It also serves as a home hub and as a DVR, the company says, providing 320GB of storage, the ability to pause or rewind live TV, and dual tuners (allowing one program to be recorded while another is being watched). In addition, it incorporates purpose-built search technology which, according to 3View, lets users search not only past and upcoming program schedules, but also YouTube and pictures, movies and music on a home network.

As well as allowing users to access a range of broadband video services, 3View says, the new box incorporates custom-built widget applications that allow users to browse the Web, access YouTube videos in full-screen mode, and access their Facebook, Twitter and email accounts. 3View says that it will offer an optional plug-and-play keyboard and mouse in order to facilitate usage of Internet-based services, and that the box will be updated with new widgets automatically via its Internet connection. "With the channels of BBC HD and ITV HD being available in two UK regions since the beginning of December, people will be able to take advantage of this, using the new 3View box to watch a whole range of content in high definition through their aerial [antenna in US parlance]," 3View managing director, John Donovan, said in a prepared statement. "Not only this, but the 3View box also makes it even easier for people to access all the benefits of the Internet through their television, letting them surf the Web and even use emerging communication tools such as Twitter and Facebook."