Harvard To Launch New Freesat HD Receivers


News story courtesy of Digitalspy

Harvard International has today announced the launch of a new range of high definition set top boxes, offering web services and integration with mobile devices.

Bearing the branding View21, the Freeview HD and Freesat HD receivers are aimed at customers who want to “future proof their TV experience” without having to switch to pay-TV.

The receivers will enable users to watch all the standard and high definition channels available on Freeview and Freesat, as well as record shows using the digital video recorder (DVR) functionality.

The receivers have two tuners and an electronic programme guide (EPG) designed by Harvard, which also produces set top boxes under the Goodmans brand. In addition, the boxes offer some catch-up TV services and a range of web apps optimised for use on the television screen.

Developed in partnership with software company ANT and using the company’s Galio connected TV platform, View21 boxes will launch with four in-built web services – BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Flickr, and Twitter.

Paul Fellows, who joined Harvard as chief technology officer from IPTV firm Amino, said that the firm wanted to create an “integrated” product that brought together broadcast TV and the web.

Fellows said that there is often a “big clunk” when shifting between the internet and TV using connected products, but Harvard wanted View21 to offer users a more seamless experience.

The EPG lays out programmes as normal, but there are a variety of filter tabs at the top that show the additional content, such as iPlayer, YouTube and any programmes recorded on the box.

Twitter has been “optimised” for the TV screen, meaning the updates can be shown in a range of ways, such as a news ticker on the bottom of the screen showing the latest tweets.

One of the most impressive features of the box is how it integrates with other mobile devices, including iPhone and iPad. The products come with an app that enables the user to control the EPG using their mobile device rather than the remote control.

The app has a remote record function for setting DVR recordings, while any saved content can be streamed from the hard drive to watch on other devices. This effectively means that the boxes enable a dual-screen viewing experience, with one person watching a channel on the TV and another simultaneously watching another channel or recorded content on an iPad or iPhone.

Harvard decided to create the View21 brand after running a strategic review of the business, which led to increased investment in its technical capabilities and products.

Fellows said that the current digital switchover in the UK has meant more people are upgrading to HD TVs, and so there was more “screen real estate” available to present sophisticated EPGs.

Equally, there has been a 10% growth in average broadband speeds in the UK over the past six months, according to Ofcom, meaning there is more capacity to run services over the internet.

Fellows confirmed that the team is “definitely considering” the idea of offering paid-for content, such as Hollywood movies, on View21 boxes in the future, while the partnership with ANT means that the firm can access existing relationships with thousands of developers for potential future app launches.

In a statement, Harvard chief executive Mike Ashley added: “Following our strategic review we have invested heavily in expanding our technical capabilities – both in software and hardware design.

“The culmination of this investment is a range of products that is innovative, easy to use and affordable. We’ve designed View21 to be a reliable, future-proof solution that enables consumers to empower their televisions with a truly connected, all-in-one entertainment experience.”

The View21-branded Freeview HD and Freesat HD receivers will launch before the end of the year, most likely around Christmas. Fellows said that the products are “aimed predominantly at the mass market”, meaning Harvard will not “whack a premium price” on them.

News story courtesy of Digitalspy

50 thoughts on “Harvard To Launch New Freesat HD Receivers”

  1. The only thing the humax can’t do compared sky + is to record from a mobile phone any where in the world can’t we have a software update from humax

  2. Will they fix their current boxes? Given harvard’s reputation, big ideas little actual working product!

  3. Interesting. Does this mean they’ll be producing a single STB with Freeview and Freesat capabilities or two seperate products? Price will be an interesting one for these too, maybe undercutting the Sagem Freesat STB’s.

  4. These are the same people asking £50 (ish) to upgrade to DVB-S2. That says it all really.

  5. I thought Harvard had lost their right to use the Freesat brand due to the previous fiascos with their boxes’ many, many problems. This is absolutely ridiculous.

  6. Look where the story came from. Skyspy!
    View 21. Really silly name. 21 days before it goes faulty or needs a firmware upgrade.

  7. @Richard Crichton

    That is why we made reference to the source, as we’ve not had any confirmation from other official sources and you know what Skyspy are like!!! 😉

  8. How about mentioning the latest Samsung televisions that appear to do the above already? They have FreeSAT onboard plus some of the internet capabilities. All within the TV. I’d like to hear if they are any good – and are worth the premium price. I may be looking at a purchase nearer Christmas time…

  9. @ Post No 1 – steve 1

    That is not the only thing the Humax (Or indeed any Freesat STB) can’t do compared sky.

    Sky users also have the benefit of Interactive News feeds from the BBC, all we have on Freesat is the Sports Multi Screen and the odd extra feed now and again.

    @ Admin. Can we have a poll to see how many people would like to see Interactive News feeds on Freesat?. I think the “Which HD broadcaster….” one has run its course now.

  10. I see in the new Argos catalogue that Harvard have released a new Freesat HD PVR under the ‘Bush’ branding. I thought they lost the right to sell Freesat products as well. The box looks a bit better cosmetically, whether they have sorted out previous problems, we will wait and see. RRP £159.99.

  11. Hi,

    I just want to ask, is this product a official freesat ?

    While I’m not as anti havard as some (i equate them to a budget airline, “you pay less you get less” but they usually they cover the basics) If it is a official freesat product, I’m surprised (and a bit disappointed ) that news of this has happened before the outstanding issues have been sorted out.

    Mark Aberfan Aerials

  12. Now the satellite has been launched when do you think we will start to See new channels and which ones?

  13. a twitter message has come up, Regarding a new sports channel called “Sports Tonight” Launching very soon!! Any body know much about this Company or have details on who and where its going on. or is this just a Hoax.

    it would be great if there was a sports dedicated Channel on freesat as many of my friends would come off Sky

  14. 8 – SkySpy – love it 🙂

    I too thought Harvard had lost their Freesat branding deal? Maybe that new Bush STB is a sweatener by Harvard to replace those with non S2 compliant Goodmans STB’s??

    14 – 1N is currently in the process of being orbited, been following the SES blog closely. Tomorrow (Friday) is day six which, according to the interview on the Ariane launch video with the SES Engineering Director, should see the satellite at Geostationary Orbit and have it’s solar panels deployed. Realistically we’ll be looking at tests starting later next week with the satellite going in to service early to mid September.

  15. Been following the blog myself aswell, its all going well so far and the timeline for testing and getting it online and fully functioning is thankfully, on target.

    Skyspy..LOL!!!! 🙂 So true, maybe someone can try to incorporate RD into that aswell…!

    Stunning that after ballsing up the spec for Freesat receivers, Harvard are then given a licence to create yet another electronic paper weight! Stunning to say the least, but anyone with a brain won’t buy it knowing the total inadequacy of them to ‘do as it says on the tin’, its like buying a Fortec Star made box and expecting the second coming from it!!!!…

  16. Former Tory party treasurer Lord Ashcroft is backing Kelvin MacKenzie’s return to media ownership with an online TV channel called Sports Tonight. Sports Tonight will broadcast four hours of topical discussion seven days a week, and has more than £5m in financing. Ashcroft has taken a significant minority stake, with MacKenzie retaining control.

    MacKenzie’s track record in media is not that great and his only success is Talk Sport mostly because others took charge of the company and made it a huge going concern. He also worked for SKY in the past so if it were to launch it would probably be PPV.

    No real sport just talk and news and it also has rights issues with it’s name which is owned by an Australian station.

  17. Ian: Yep, all going well. SES have announced via their FB page this morning that 1N will be tested at 1.8E, a slot currently vacant so allows them to fully test the bird before moving to 28.2E. Some had thought they’d test at 31.5E but this doesn’t obviously allow for them to test the full suite of ku-band Txp’s.

    mediaman: No love lost between Kelvin McKenzie for me. He lost me money when I invested in his radio group, ended up selling out at a loss. Yep, he’s definitley stood closely behind uncle Rupert, didn’t know he’d had involvement in Sky directly but knew he was editor of the Sun in the 90’s. Will be interesting as to whether he gets the service off the ground and if subscription would anyone pay for it? I guess though it could make an addition to Freesat’s VOD service if they want to exploit a wider audience?

  18. @14 – theres no chance of Astra 1N being on station at 28E much before the end of September. Even then its unlikely there will be loads of channels suddenly going fta. A reasonable guess would be that the currently encrypted ITV1 sub regions can go fta, and maybe the Five* / 5USA / & +1’s or whatever they are called these days.

    If you seriously think there will be a sudden rush of channels going fta then you are deluding yourself.

  19. I suspect we’ll see 1N in place with the swapped over transponders also still running encrypted for a period of time before going FTA. I guess they are on some sort of Month to Month ongoing encryption arrangement with Sky (eg ITV and C5) so also can’t go FTA until such time prevails. I also reckon we’ll be looking at October before the C5 services join the platform, also talk of C4’s sister services launching in HD too which will probably occur at a similar time or later.

  20. Reply to 21 ross .I wasn’t deluding myself because I was asking not telling that what this forum is all about

  21. I didn’t expect them to test it in 28.2, nor 31.5E, its too close to its home and they like to do the testing quietly and not for all to see incase of something and not have the forums and whatnot knowing about it and liking it to the end of the world as some do LOL!!
    The encrypted to FTA situation to an extent is still unknown and those that do know can say nothing because its infomation that only a few have and can’t burn a source or risk the source being discovered, but you will find out in a few months time, testing and online of 1N permitting. mean time, chill out and relax…

  22. I must disagree with the people slating the harvard boxes.

    I bought a Goodmans branded box in 2008. It has been rock solid and never given me an ounce of trouble. The picture quality is better than my sky box thats for sure.

  23. @PaulD #25

    I bought a Bush HD box as it was a very reasonable price and money is tight. I do have a few niggles about the box but for the money I paid it does perform remarkably well and works with S2 transmissions. I would love to buy a Humax box with a hard drive but I will have to wait until I have an excuse to buy one such as the Bush box failing!

  24. I have a humax pvr very pleased and a bush hd box not pvr supports s2 its a very good neat box good for the money

  25. Does anyone out there when they turn there box on it sometimes crackles through the speakers on tv and picture?something to do with HDMI

  26. @steve 1
    Never had that issue with my Technisat HDFS pvr.
    Is that your Bush box that crackles or the Humax or both?

  27. The humax it doesn’t happen all the time it could be my Sony tv.any whizz kids out there who could shed some light on this

  28. I’ve just bought myself a 2nd box – A Humax Foxsat HD to go with my HDR.

    Superb SD picture on the little portable we’ve put it on.

    I’m afraid you’d have to give Harvard products away for free before I’d have one as I don’t believe in their quality. Just my opinion though.

  29. BTW if anyone needs a Humax HD box, got mine for £94.00 + £9.99 5 years extended warranty I took as an option from Richer Sounds – price beat with several places on the web doing the Humax for £99.

    Was going to John Lewis until I found the deal and as RS offer a 5 year warranty, they proved the better bet.

    BTW they do honour warranties, I had a CD player go wrong, and I got a new laser fitted FOC under warranty.

  30. The View21 will come with web services “…YouTube, Flickr, and Twitter.”.

    You know aomething? When I watch TV, I do so because I want to watch something,;live tv, stuff off the pvr, a dvd or whatever. Not because I want to skim through some content whilst using YouTube, Flickr or, for gods sake, bloody Twitter. And if you’ve got an iApp, then they’re superior platforms for consuming YouTube, Flickr, and Twitter anyway.

    All this reminds me of is the fad for combining digital clocks with anything that had an LCD display…

    Not that I’d consider buying another Harvard product anyway.

  31. Some people are claiming that the Samsung PVR is now fixed.
    “All the problems which were there at launch are now fixed. This is now the best Freesat PVR available. Buy with confidence.”
    I see it is available for £199 on Amazon.
    Has anyone who has experience with this box who can comment on the latest firmware upgrade and any remaining problems with the box?

  32. Have you done the usual stuff and checked the HDMI connection from the box to the telly @steve 1? Also try using another HDMI cable aswell. I know this is the obvious stuff, but its normally always the case of something as simple as a cable coming half out and giving you a dodgy PQ or crackling sound!
    Also if possible, check to see if you have the same problems by connecting your telly and box together by a Scart aswell (as a test only)

    If non of that helps or solves the issue, its possible you have static build up within the sound system in your telly. its happens mostly to Stereo equipment and you have to de-static it in a number of ways. I do it using a sound test disk that removes it using frequency changes. Its pretty good too and i have to do it maybe 2 times a year at the most.

  33. Hi Ian I have tried with a basic hdmi lead and a more expensive one both do the same and the connectors are clean and also my other humax did it but it might be the tv.I will give it a go.has anyone out there has the same issue?

  34. Admin
    You have not said anything about the Bush box Argos are selling (post 12 above) which I have understood is not a Harvard product as Argos bought the rights to the Bush name from Harvard.
    Very little has been posted anywhere else about this new Bush; just a few responses on DS and AVF.

    Is there still no news about the Thomson box previewed here in May/June?

  35. @Rozzo

    Very little information is known about the new Bush box, but you can be sure it will be the cheapest option and probably as reliable. Unfortunately Bush/Argos and Harvard Group spend very little time advertising their products or responding to enquiries so we have no idea whether there is anything of note about the new receiver; even Freesat haven’t mentioned it.

    Thomson still due but again, not much in the way of a reply to confirm this. The key launch this year will be the Manhattan HD and HDR receivers as they should hopefully offer a leading price with reliability to match.

  36. Not really ian I will have a another look at the connections.can admin shed some light?.p.s I have no trouble with my other box which is a bush hd box it does everything it says on the tin

  37. The View 21 boxes look like they were intended to be Harvard’s You View range but as this will launch in 2012 they have decided to launch them to catch this year’s Christmas trade. I can only see them being successful if they are You View compatible.

    I assume the View 21 brand has been created to replace the Grundig brand which Harvard no longer holds UK rights to.

    PS Re post 40. Why would Harvard be commenting on a Bush product?

  38. @42
    “PS Re post 40. Why would Harvard be commenting on a Bush product?”

    Perhaps because it is an Argos brand that is/was manufactured by Harvard or do you know something that we don’t?

  39. @43: I don’t know what you know or don’t know. Check out the agreements between Home Retail Group (Argos) and Harvard, in the public domain. Argos acquired the IP, branding, manufacturing/sourcing contracts so unlikely that Harvard would comment on a Bush product. But not impossible.

    @39 There is now a website for the Thomson set top boxes made under licence by Strong. However, the UK still says “Coming Soon”

  40. @ 42 43
    I don’t think admin was suggesting Harvard would comment on Bush or Argos only that he had heard very little from either. Apart from there being a new Bush box in the Argos catalogue and apparently in stock no-one has heard anything more about it.

    When do you expect to hear any more about these Manhattans?

  41. Hmmm. A much larger hard disc would gratefully be appreciated. The current model at 500gb is a bit small a few high def movies takes up space and backing up is next to impossible thanks to content protection. Disk space is an issue my current sagem box and I am experiencing. At 250gb I feel lucky to get 20 2hr movies in high definition before I have to start deleting things.

  42. Just returning a Goodmans 500Gb HD Freesat+ PVR to Amazon as tuner 2 has major faults and Harvard customer service non existent apart from technical help line on 0871 number. NOT GOOD (mans) ENOUGH!

  43. A Google search of the view 21 branding is showing very little.

    Does anyone know when this range will be released?

  44. So [off topic, but following the trend] any news as to when we can expect 4OD and Demand 5 ?

  45. Lee Sartin said:
    I see in the new Argos catalogue that Harvard have released a new Freesat HD PVR under the ‘Bush’ branding. I thought they lost the right to sell Freesat products as well. The box looks a bit better cosmetically, whether they have sorted out previous problems, we will wait and see. RRP £159.99.

    Btw argos own the bush & alba brand names

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