London-based 3View has managed to outfox Humax by paper-launching the first Freeview HD set-box, known succintly as the 3View Box, hours before popular manufacturer Humax launches its own.
The device supports full HD (1080p) and packs two Freeview HD tuners although you won't be able to record two HD channels at the same time (at least for now); 3View has also integrated its own proprietary Finetune technology that allows the user to pick up very weak signals.
It is also UPnP/DLNA compatible which means that it should be able to stream content from devices on the same network. Users will also be able to connect a USB keyboard and mouse to browse the internet through the default Opera web browser.
Interestingly, this Freeview HD PVR is Z Wave enabled; this means that in theory, it should be able to communicate seamlessly with compatible devices thanks to the embedded wireless mesh networking technology.
Speaking of PVR, it comes with a 500GB hard disk drive (although the press release mentions a 320GB model) and has two USB ports which should allow you to connect external hard disk drives.
The 3View box will be available in March 2010 and although there is no pricing, we expect it to sell for around £500. Unfortunately, it seems that the system won't come with built-in WiFi at least for now; you will need to rely on a wired connection to get the 2mbps required to access web-based content.
John Donovan, the managing director of 3view Ltd, said in a statement that "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."