With the launch of EE TV imminent, there are now even more digital TV services to choose from. Here, we take a look at the latest, EE TV, to see how it compares to established rivals.
Is it as good as YouView? What does it offer than Freeview doesn’t? How does the EE TV mobile app compare to the likes of Sky Go and Virgin TV Anywhere? Read on to find out.
What is EE TV?
- Basic Monthly Cost: £25.70/month (£9.95 broadband and weekend calls, £15.75 line rental)
- EE TV box: Free
- Number of channels: 70+
- Number of on-demand services: 14
- Hard drive size: 1TB
- Number of tuners: 4
- Mobile service: EE TV app
EE TV is essentially a Freeview HD box with four tuners and some quirky on-demand functions EE TV is EE’s forthcoming digital TV service. It’s only available to EE mobile customers and needs to be taken as part of a broadband, home phone and TV bundle.
The cheapest bundle costs £9.95/month which gives you an unlimited ADSL service providing download speeds of 17Mbps with weekend calls to UK landlines. With the £15.75/month rate of standard line rental added the total cost is £25.70/month.
So what do you get?
EE TV will give you access to over 70 digital terrestrial TV channels – the same ones you get on Freeview HD – plus access to a number of catch-up services, including BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Demand 5, Wuaki.tv, BBC Sport, BBC News, DailyMotion and The Box.
EE TV comes with a dual-band WiFi antenna and an Ethernet port, so you’ve options whne it comes to connecting it to your router. Naturally, EE recommends that you go for the latter for a more stable connection. To get all of the digital TV channels you’ll need to connect the EE TV box to an aerial.
EE TV’s Replay feature automatically records the last 24 hours of content from your six favourite channels
The hardware, made by French company Netgem, features a 1TB hard drive.
EE says will let you store up to 25 days’ worth of programmes, although it’s not confirmed how many hours of standard definition or HD programming you can store on the EE TV box.
EE TV also features something called Replay. This records the last 24 hours of content from six of your favourite channels, meaning if you want to catch-up, you won’t have to stream anything over your broadband connection as it’ll already be available.
Thanks to the four HD tuners, you can also record up to four different programmes at once, meaning recording clashes should be a thing of the past.
EE TV vs the rest
That’s the EE TV box in a nutshell. Let’s see how it compares to the basic TV packages on offer from Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and BT in terms of features and price.
|EE TV||Sky Original Bundle||
Virgin Media More TV
TalkTalk Essentials TV
|BT TV Essential (YouView)||BT TV Essential (BT Vision)|
|Remote Record||/||Sky+||Virgin TV Anywhere||YouView/TalkTalk app (Beta)||YouView||Yes|
|Remote Viewing||EE TV app||Sky Go||Virgin TV Anywhere||/||BT Sport||BT Sport|
EE TV compares well to the entry-level offerings from BT; it’s cheaper by roughly a fiver a month and the hard drive is twice as big. The TalkTalk Essentials TV box doesn’t have a drive at all – it’s a basic zapper box. Note that TalkTalk and BT are increasing the cost of line rental later this year. This will see total monthly prices climb to £25.20 and £31.99 respectively.
On the other hand, this is as good as EE TV gets. TalkTalk TV offers customers the option of all the Sky Sports channels (£30/month) Sky Movies (£15/month) and Sky entertainment channels like Sky 1, Sky Arts 1 ands Sky Living for an extra £5/month with the TV Starter Boost.
For £34.45/month instead of £24.45/month TalkTalk customers can get Plus TV instead of Essentials TV. This gives you a set-top box with a 320GB hard drive and the TV Starter Boost channels included.
Both TalkTalk TV and BT TV YouView boxes come with a bigger selection of on-demand options than EE TV as well. Connected Red Button, which lets you access a greater range of BBC content has also recently started rolling out to YouView devices.
While EE TV doesn’t have as big a catch-up suite as the YouView-based services it does make up for this somewhat with Replay. This automatically backs up the last 24 hours of content from up to six channels of your choice. While you can’t get things like ITV Player and 4oD yet, Replay can pull in content from ITV and Channel 4 channels.
Sky and Virgin Media customers can tap into an even wider range of on-demand content. Sky TV subscribers can access shows from 47 channels with the Original Bundle. You get BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand 5, plus Watch, Gold, Dave, SyFy, TLC plus content from Sky channels including Sky 1, Sky Atlantic, Sky Arts and Sky Living.
Virgin Media customers with More TV and the TiVo box get access to catch-up content from BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand 5 and Sky 1, Sky Living and Sky News. Connected Red Button (see above) has been a feature of Virgin Media TiVo since 2012, and lets you access a wealth of BBC content from one menu. As you’d expect, the bigger pay TV providers can offer a lot more in terms of channels than EE TV – which is essentially Freeview HD plus some extras – and their mobile catch-up services are more advanced too.
What’s the EE TV catch-up app like?
The EE TV app lets you watch content on up to three extra devices, including content you’ve recorded on the box. But this only works when you’re at home, connected to the home network via WiFi. It’s not a ‘remote’ viewing service in the same way Sky Go or Virgin TV Anywhere is – you can’t watch TV when you’re on the move.
The YouView apps don’t let you watch any content on the go. BT TV customers can watch live sports with the BT Sport apps, but obviously these don’t let you watch anything else.
Recombu’s Verdict: How does EE TV shape up?
In a nutshell, it’s a big Freeview HD box with a small library of on-demand services. We’d be more enthused about it if it had catch-up services from all of the regular TV broadcasters and not just the BBC and Channel 5.
With the exception of Box TV, everything you can get on the EE TV box you can get subscription-free on Chromecast, along with a boatload of other new and exciting services.
As a smart TV service it’s got some cool features like Replay but it simply doesn’t have the same level of on-demand choice that YouView owners enjoy.
The EE TV app offers families a solution to age-old arguments about what show to watch on the living room TV by letting people watch content on smaller screens. But we wonder if people who wanted to watch something like Coronation Street or Strictly wouldn’t just simply download ITV Player and BBC iPlayer from Google Play and the iTunes App Store.
While it’s a cool feature it’s not a true remote viewing service in the way that Sky and Virgin Media’s offerings are. Being able to access recordings on your EE TV box in the manner of a cloud PVR would be really cool, but that’s not what’s on offer here.
If EE TV’s catch-up library expands dramatically over the next few months then we can see it becoming more of a draw. Right now it doesn’t offer people much more than what’s available from rival ISPs.