IP Vision Unveils New Netgem Freeview+ Hybrid HD STB, New Interface for its FetchTV Service

IP Vision--a company which is backed by French set-top box vendor, Netgem, and which offers a hybrid service that combines reception of linear channels from the UK's free-to-air digital terrestrial platform, Freeview, with OTT access to pay-per-view and subscription-based online VOD services, as well as to free, online programming catch-up services such as the BBC iPlayer--contacted [itvt] Tuesday to let us know that it is teaming with Netgem to showcase at the IPTV World Forum in London this week (Stand 911) what the companies claim is the UK's first high-definition hybrid Freeview+ set-top box (note: Freeview+ is the brand/certification program through which Freeview seeks to promote awareness and sales of DVR's designed for use with its service). Dubbed the FetchTV SmartBox 8320HD and based on Netgem's latest DVB-T2 hardware reference design, the new box--which incorporates a 320GB hard drive--will be offered alongside the existing FetchTV 8000 box. According to IP Vision, the new box, which is slated to be commercially available next quarter, supports, among other things, standard- and high-definition VOD, upscaling of Freeview SD broadcasts, WiFi connectivity, DVR functionality, and access to streaming video, photos and music from connected devices through the FetchTV media center. "This is an important step forward for IP Vision," the company's CEO, Eddie Abrams, said in a prepared statement. "High-definition broadcast will be an important driver for consumers in the UK's digital TV market. Freeview is now joining other digital TV platforms in enabling access to HD broadcast content and we are delighted to be one of the first vendors to deliver this content to the public. We believe that HD broadcast, in conjunction with the exceptional support for video-on-demand and catch-up content within FetchTV and the forthcoming launch of Sky Player, will further strengthen our position in the connected TV market in the UK. As both a key partner and shareholder, Netgem has played an important role in supporting this next evolution of the FetchTV platform, working closely with us to tailor a hardware design and develop associated software and technologies to support HD broadcast within the FetchTV environment." IP Vision is also using the IPTV World Forum to demo a new user interface for FetchTV. According to the company, the UI allows viewers to select the content they wish to access by using two "cross-hair" intersecting navigation bars. This approach, the company says, lets viewers quickly and easily bring up information about on-demand movies or a linear broadcast channel, and provides all the information viewers need to make a selection within the UI, without having to "channel flick away from the content they are already viewing." According to the company, the new interface, which will be available to all new and existing FetchTV customers as part of a free firmware update, "represents a step-change in the FetchTV customer experience, combining ease of use with the improved visual appeal of a revised high-definition UI and featuring enhanced search, navigation, recommendation and cross-platform services."