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Telewest launches PVR to challenge Sky+

# 21 January 2005, 20:32 by Frank

Cable firm Telewest is to offer a personal video recorder (PVR) that should challenge BSkyB’s Sky+ system. PVRs record TV programmes to a hard drive, letting viewers pause, and rewind live television and effectively “time shift” the viewing experience.

The new PVR set-top box, the result of an agreement with Scientific-Atlanta, incorporates a 160Gb hard drive and three video tuners, which will allow viewers to receive Telewest Broadband’s digital TV service and record two programmes simultaneously while watching a third. This is a significant step forward in functionality from many existing PVRs, which can only manage two channels at once.

Telewest PVR Box - click for Hi-Res Version

Sky+ is currently the market leader in the PVR field within the UK, with 474,000 subscribers. Sky Plus boxes come in two versions – a 40GB version for £99 and a 160GB version for £399. Sky also charges a £10 subscription fee to the service, unless viewers have a subscription to one of its premium packages.

Telewest has yet to reveal pricing for the new box or if it will be charging a subscription fee for the service. The cableco also said it plans to offer high-definition TV (HDTV) content in the future, which offers a significant improvement in picture quality compared with today’s standard-definition digital TV broadcasts, especially on larger plasma and LCD screens.

Eric Tveter, president and chief operating officer at Telewest Broadband, said: “We will make our personal video recorder set-top box available later this year, putting a stop to missed soaps, interrupted films and arguments over which programmes to record. It’s a fantastic box of TV tricks that people will wonder how they ever survived without!”

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