View21 500GB Smart TV Box Product Review
29/01/2013 | Nicholas Griffin
Gradually TV is starting to get a lot smarter, with even more manufactures creating new devices that can access both internet services and the usual TV ones we have come to expect. View21 is one of these devices, bringing all of these new features to your existing television (or even projector for that matter), and allowing you to access all of these services with one simple box. The View 21 box can in fact access full Freeview+ HD services alongside internet services and even allow you to stream live TV and recordings to your iOS device.
Users can aldo pause, rewind and record live TV at the press of a button, for which a max of 2 channels can be recorded at the same time whilst watching something that has already been recorded, or you can record one channel whilst watching a programme live, which is thanks to the twin tuners in-built.
There’s two versions of the View21 one with a 500GB hard drive and another with a 320GB HDD, allowing you to record a max of 312 hours of TV programmes onto the 500GB model, a number that decreases to 125 hours if you record on HD.
Once plugged into an ethernet connection the VW11FVRHD50 model (the one with the 500GB HDD), the box can then access a selection of in-built apps including BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Twitter and Flickr, the model can also be used in conjunction with the two smartphone apps from the iTunes App Store named, View21 Play and view21 Photo.
The Play application is a 19.3MB download and allows you watch recorded content from anywhere around the house (as long as you are on the same network ), and will allow you to watch TV Live whilst you watch something else on the actual TV.
You can also use Play as a type of remote, navigating both the EPG and your Library of recordings, you can also select programmes from the applications available, this really helps as the actual remote is a little shoddy if I’m honest.
The Photo application allows the user to select from photos stored on the phone or tablet and display them on the TV screen, which is displayed above what you are currently watching.
The design of the box itself is extremely appealing, with an overall black design and silver edging the device looks great next to most of my TV equipment, using more or less the same colours, however the box itself is a tad on the large side.
In terms of ports there’s a HDMI, Optical Audio Output, USB 2.0 and 2 scart sockets, the interesting part for which is that they have chosen to include a HDMI cable in the box but no scart cable.
Alongside normal Freeview services, with the View21 you can also access various applications such as YouTube, Twitter, BBC iPlayer and Flickr, I found these applications to work perfectly most of the time, however I did find them a little lacking. The YouTube app for example doesn’t look all to great and will not allow you to access your subscriptions, a truly annoying feature (or lack of).
However the ability to easily watch something on your iPad or iPhone from anywhere in the house is great, defiantly a feature you don’t know you want until you have it.
I would have liked to be able to access this on my PC/ laptop also, but it seems that feature is not yet available. It’s also probably worth noting that you will need to be connected to the same network to access these online features, so if you want to stream via a cellular connection get a Slingbox.
Overall I think this product would be a great addition to anyone’s home, I would however like to see some app upgrades as well as the introduction of other applications such as 4oD, Lovefilm or Netflix.
You can pick up the View21 with a 320GB hard drive from the View21 site for £179.99, the 500GB model howeveris only £10 more at £189.99, however if you want features such as streaming across the home and want to access Freeview and record it at the same time, the View21 is certainly a good option, however with the current app selection I’m not too sure it is a replacement for the Smart TV just yet, if you don’t currently have one however this is a fine product to buy in order to gain access to web services, Freeview content and even stream content to your capable devices.
Disclaimer: We were sent this product for review by View21 themselves, however all views and opinions within this review are my own.