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3View Interview : We're Concerned About Project Canvas

3View Commercial Director Robert Blackwell provides us with some interesting insights about the company's future plans regarding their promising Freeview HD personal video recorder.

To start up with, can you please present yourself and 3View, the company?

We are an independent UK start-up company which has developed what we believe to be the first true next-generation set top box. By this we mean that not only do we allow people to have access to all the free to air standard and HD channels, like most other set top boxes, but we have also integrated the Internet into the heart of the box.

This means we allow people to make the most of the Internet through their TV, giving them access to full-screen Youtube, iPlayer, Skyplayer and opening up the possibility of a vast amount of new video content off the Internet. Not only this, but we have built the box so that it works with open source opera widgets, this means people will be able to access their favourite web services through their TV. The box comes pre-loaded with Facebook and Twitter applications, but many others will be available over the Internet as the product progresses.

The box was initially supposed to go on sale in March and now the release is schedule for July. What are the reasons behind this four month delay?

The original launch date was actually May and because of problems with suppliers and the manufacturing process, we have had to push the shipping date back a month and a half. We are now promising that those who want to get their hands on a box will be able to do so by the end of July. There may be units available before that, but July 30th is the date that we have said that everyone and anyone will be able to get one. For us, 3view is the result of a lot of hard work, especially seeing as we are a small UK company, so we are as frustrated as anyone else to see the date slip. It has however given us time to make sure the software is working as well as possible, so it will be razor sharp for launch!

Why did 3View choose the Freeview route and not Freesat instead? Are there any killer advantages.

3View is doing something that is compelling and is required in the current market. We are offering customers HD viewing via an aerial, which is necessary for the large section of the population that cannot install a satellite in their homes in order to watch HD programmes.

Two months ago, 3View's MD said that he was concerned about the impact of Project Canvas. Why is it so?

Our concern is the lack of clarity on what Project Canvas is and what it means for the industry as a whole. We're intrigued by the 3View applications; will you be able, for example, to use the 3View as a NAS or as a P2P server one day? Our marketing strategy is simple – enable customers to watch, search and interact. We are not marketing the box as a NAS server, but it has the ability to store content which can be viewed via a PC on the home network

Do you plan to sell the 3View through third parties (DSGI, Tesco or Best Buy)?

Yes. We are delighted to have partnered with John Lewis, which will be stocking the box at launch at the beginning of August. We will not rule out partnerships with other third-party retailers.

You've listed Sky Player as coming soon on your website, does that mean that you're eyeing Sky paid-for/subscribers as well?

No. We have a direct partnership with Sky to provide Sky Player on the 3view platform, to extend the options and availability of Sky’s great content for those that cannot receive it on a dish.

What are some of the upgrades you're planning to implement in v2? Wi-Fi? iPod/iPhone compatibility? 1TB hard drive?

The 3View box is a home media hub with the possibility to upgrade via the internet. Wi-Fi isn’t currently up to scratch for streaming HD quality TV programme so we will not include this in the box. However, it is possible to attach a Wi-Fi dongle.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.