This week marked ten years since set top box maker Pace announced the UK’s first ever twin-tuner Freeview recorder, the Pace Twin.
It offered “easy access to over 20 free-to-view digital TV channels, including entertainment, news, information and interactive services” and “a 20-gigabyte hard disk drive” in return for £349.
The Pace Twin wasn’t without its problems and the company withdrew the product not long after working through most of the glitches, but just a year after the Sky+ system debuted it offered a subscription-free way to record digital TV.
As commonplace as that sounds today, at the time it was as revolutionary as the first VCRs.
Fast forward a decade later and the world of digital terrestrial TV (DTT) is being revolutionised once more thanks to YouView.
While the UK’s DTT platform now offers far more channels, space is and will always be a scare commodity. YouView is offering viewers and content providers a way forward with on demand shows and, soon, streamed channels via broadband.
While the new service has met with some scepticism – I’ve addressed much of that previously – it’s also starting to generate some buzz, especially now it and its partner ISPs are starting to promote its availability.
A quick point on the oft-made ‘too expensive’ claim.
According to measuringworth.com, the £349 needed to buy a Pace Twin in 2002 is now worth at least £443 (the site can only calculate up to 2010). YouView is already retailing at £249 from outlets such as Amazon.
Put another way, in 2012 the future of subscription-free digital TV costs less markedly than it did a decade ago.
Pace launches UK’s first digital ‘free-to-view’ personal video recorder
23 September 2002
‘Digital Switch’ became even more compelling today as Pace Micro Technology unveiled the UK’s first digital terrestrial personal video recorder (PVR). The ‘Twin Digital TV Recorder’, expected in retail just before Christmas, will enhance free-to-air viewing with new PVR features not previously available on digital terrestrial.
Pace’s new Recorder provides easy access to over 20 free-to-view digital TV channels1, including entertainment, news, information and interactive services. To realise the full potential from the growing free-to-view channel line-up, Pace has incorporated not just a hard disk drive, but also twin digital tuners and a dual decoder into its PVR.
Using the ‘Twin Digital TV Recorder’ that incorporates a 20-gigabyte hard disk drive, free-to-air TV content can be recorded at broadcast digital quality, significantly improving the quality of digital terrestrial programme recording. Viewers can also pause live TV and fast-forward in digital quality at multiples of up to 64 times standard speed, rewind at multiples of up to 32 times and watch play-back in slow motion. As new PVR services become available on the ‘Twin Digital TV Recorder’, they will be downloaded, keeping ‘Twin’ users up-to-date with the latest in hard disk benefits.
The twin digital tuners deliver two streams of TV content, which enable a family to watch two digital programmes independently on separate TVs. This is good news for the 76%2 of UK households with more than one TV who now don’t have to buy an extra gateway or adapter to go fully digital. In addition to PVR recording for the first time in the UK, the twin tuners also enable viewers to record any programme onto their VCR while watching another digital channel.
The ‘Twin Digital TV Recorder’ comes with an easy to use on-screen electronic programme guide (EPG), building on the format used in Pace’s popular Digital TV Adapter (DTVA) launched in March 2002. The Guide incorporates all of the standard DVB ‘now and next’ programme information, any additional programme information that is made available and is ready for the extra EPG information that is expected as part of the Freeview licence Award. As with the DTVA, the Twin Recorder is easy to install and does not require an engineer home visit.
“Pace’s new ‘Twin Recorder’ marks yet another step forward for the UK free-to-view market,” commented Graham North regional director UK and Ireland. “The innovative features and services we have made possible open up the full potential and value of digital terrestrial TV. The combination of new channels, extra features and ‘plug-and-play’ installation will drive more consumers than ever before to make the switch to digital.”
1 Following the launch of Freeview
2 Source ITC June 2002
About Twin Digital TV Recorder
Pace’s new Twin Digital TV Recorder is scheduled for retail rollout in the final run up to Christmas 2002. The anticipated retail price is £349.
About Pace Micro Technology plc
Pace Micro Technology plc (LSE: PIC) is a leader in digital television technology. The Company’s primary focus is the development of innovative home gateway (set-top box) solutions for operators, broadcasters, telecommunications companies and retail markets worldwide. In addition, Pace develops edge of network devices for service providers, in particular digital IP voice gateways for low-cost integrated voice and data services.
Pace’s head office is in Shipley West Yorkshire, with further offices in Bracknell, Cambridge, the USA and Hong Kong.