First look – 3view's Freeview HD box

We’ve just had an exclusive first look at 3view's HD-friendly PVR, which is set to launch for £300 in March. And judging on the near-production-ready

Packing twin DVB-T2 tuners, it’s the first gadget we’ve seen able to receive BBC HD via your TV aerial – so long as you live in the correct part of the country, of course (to find out if you are, check Freeview's site).

3view plans to put its baby in for approval by the Digital Television Group (DTG) very shortly, so by the time it hits the streets, it should be the very first set-top-box in the UK to sport Freeview HD badges.

With a 500GB hard drive, wired or wireless internet access (the latter via USB dongle), and Linux-based software powered by a Sigma chipset, this is no ordinary set-top-box: it’s much more of a media hub, its Opera 10 browser giving it built-in web access in a convenient, sofa-friendly format.

Widgets for YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, DLNA and UPnP compliance and a media-friendly USB 2.0 input able to support a wide range of audio and video formats give it flexibility to shame most rivals. 3view plans to add iPlayer access too, and it can even access the Gracenote database.

And all that’s before you even touch on the 3view’s HD abilities. Aside from being ready and able to handle broadcast 1080i HD over your TV aerial, the box also offers full support for 1080p/24 and 1080p/50/60 video, and will play MPEG 1, 2 and 4 video files too.

Oh, and just in case you’re not already bowled over, it even has Z-Wave compatibility for home automation control, so (given appropriate kit in your front room) you could soon be turning up the heating or dimming the lights from the comfort of your sofa. Nice.

It’s all deeply impressive stuff. Finished versions of the 3view should be with us for testing in a week or so: we’ll bring you the full verdict just as soon as we can. Scroll down for more pics.