Dan Howdle | February 5th, 2024
TalkTalk has recently upgraded the set-top box it offers to its broadband and TV customers, moving from the old YouView DVR-style recorder and tuner to a swanky new 4K-capable TalkTalk TV Hub. The box is also provided by YouView, but an entirely different sort of tech than the previous one. Let's take a closer look at what's new.
Following on from BT, which last year changed up its own YouView TV box offering for a much more capable 4K streaming box solution called the BT TV Box Pro, TalkTalk TV – a service many might not even have heard of – has followed suit, offering a different version in the form of the TalkTalk TV Hub.
TalkTalk has once again partnered with YouView to provide this box. It's conveniently small and well-featured, and has some real advantages over leaning too heavily in on your smart TV to combine all your apps and subscriptions.
In a nutshell, the new TalkTalk TV Hub acts like a smart TV. You can watch live channels both terrestrial and Freeview, you can add on premium channel packs such as Sky Sports (at substantial additional cost, obviously), and you can download popular TV streaming apps. The word 'Hub' in its name is very apt – it's designed to act as the only device your TV needs to play just about anything short of a DVD.
TalkTalk TV customers who were used to the oler YouView box TalkTalk offered previously may be disappointed to learn that you can't record live TV with the new 4K TalkTalk TV Hub. At least, not in the same way you could with the old YouView DVR. Instead, you will have to rely on catch-up, which will allow you to watch anything you might have missed up to 30 days after it was screened.
You can record live TV onto a separate USB memory stick which you will have to buy yourself and then slot into the TalkTalk TV Hub, but that's going to be more trouble than its worth for many. Still, USB memory sticks can have pretty huge storage these days, so if you must have own episode of Eastenders, the option is there.
One nice feature which few people will use (being realistic here) is its ability to integrate with Alexa, so you can use voice search. This won't work out the box, obviously – you'll need to pair it with your Alexa or Echo – but it does provide a means to work around the slow one-letter-at-a-time search you'll find in the user interface.
You'll find these on most modern TV streaming devices these days, and each is either meaningful or meaningless, depending on what you're going to attach the box to. Here's a quick explanation of what each of these do:
Here are the technical specifications for the TalkTalk TV Hub:
You can only get TalkTalk TV if you're a TalkTalk broadband customer, but there are plenty of reasons to do so, not least because for just a fiver a month you can get access to dozens of Freeview channels in one convenient box with a well-designed remote and user interface.
There are about a hundred Freeview channels accessible straight out of the box, including everything you'd expect to see, from all the terrestrial channels such as BBC, ITV, Channel Four and Five and all their variants, to offerings like Quest, Sky Mix, and Vintage TV.
There are far too many to fully represent here, but you can check the full list on TalkTalk's website.
The TalkTalk TV Hub, runs on the Google Chromecast operating system (Android TV), and that means apps. You'll be able to download a wide variety of TV streaming apps from the Google Play store. That means if you subscribe to multiple streaming services, you'll be able to watch them all on this box.
Rather like the channels, by dint of the fact there's essentially a Google Chromecast built into this box, the list of apps you can install onto it it just too large to over in full here. Know then that all the usual suspects – Netflix, Disney+, NOW TV, Amazon, Paramount+ and so on – are available should you need them.
It also means you can 'cast' video content from your phone or tablet directly to your TV, offering you yet another way to enjoy your content. Watching a long and interesting YouTube video on your phone and want to settle down on the sofa for the evening? Why not cast it to the TV and continue?
TalkTalk TV also allows you to bundle Netflix and/or NOW TV (all the Sky content) in with your monthly broadband and TV subscription, possibly saving you some money.
Finally, you can add premium channel packs such as Sky Sports, TNT Sports and Sky Cinema to your TalkTalk TV subscription, with Sky content being delivered via NOW TV. Although this option is welcome, it's not the cheapest way to get these services, and the video and audio quality of NOW TV is and has always been quite low (though this is something you're only going to notice if your TV is enormous).
Still, it's nice to have the option since these premium channels make up the last raft of content anyone could possibly want in a TV bundle.
TalkTalk TV is underrated. While you can only get it if you're a TalkTalk broadband customer, £5 per month for a very capable box that puts every possible TV option from Live TV to streaming apps to premium channel packs in one place is a steal.
A smart TV gives you apps. A Freeview box gives you Freeview channels, and some other, additional app or box might get your Sky's premium service. The 4K TalkTalk TV Hub gives you all of the above. Does it offer as much as the market leader, Sky Stream? No, but it won't cost you as much either.