EE, the network operator, has today announced a new piece of hardware today - a set-top box named EE TV.
EE TV is a bit like YouView, the box used by BT and TalkTalk. EE's Orange in France already has a set-top box which is provided with partners Netgem.
EE TV offers 70 Freeview channels over the air as well as on-demand and catch-up services like BBC iPlayer and Demand 5. More catch-up services will be added at a later date. The HTML5 standard of the box appears to be a factor in this, but EE hasn't confirmed any reasons for the delay.
The box itself is a 1TB unit featuring dual-band Wi-Fi and four HD tuners. Users can pause, rewind, record, and multi-screen. It comes with a remote but is mainly focused on using mobiles as remotes.
The interface comprises of On Demand, Live TV, Recordings, Replay, plus tools and help. The menu is laid out to feel like a smartphone layout. Flick is a function that allows users to throw what's on the tablet or mobile to the TV. Restart is a helpful function that allows the user to start a live TV show that is halfway through and watch from the start - this is possible as EE TV records your six favourite channels on TV for 24-hours and does so daily.
Those with mobiles will be able to continue the viewing experience in different rooms. Shows can be kept on the set-top box memory and streamed over the internet.
A mobile can be used as a remote control with an app that shows previews of what's on other channels. EE TV can stream up to four shows at once to four different devices to be watched on mobiles and tablets.
Sky's Now TV and BT Sport will not appear on the EE set-top box.
The EE TV box, worth £300 according to EE, will be free for anyone with an EE home broadband subscription from £9.95 per month. Without an EE subscription of some sort EE TV won't be available.
While EE now offers a more broad package to customers seeking mobile, broadband and TV deals, the competition is still fierce. BT is planning to re-enter the mobile market while Sky and Netflix and offering content deals with Vodafone. Virgin and TalkTalk already offer packages for mobiles, broadband TV as well as home phones.