Improvements to the UPC Horizon Set Top Box
Horizon is UPC’s premium TV offering, and has several advantages over other TV/DVR systems, such as:
- Ability to record up to 4 TV shows at the same time and watch a 5th, which avoids recording conflicts
- HD channels as standard, rather than as a paid-for extra
- Integrated broadband modem and WiFi router in the set top box, so you only need one box for TV, Broadband and Phone (although of course, as they’re in one box, you have to have everything in one location)
- Ability to stream live TV via WiFi onto iOS devices and PC/laptops in the home (although no support for Android yet)
However the new Horizon system is now without its problems. I was involved in the public trail back in the spring of 2013, and fed back all of these findings to UPC – but as of today, none of them have been resolved:
- The TV Guide is very slow to navigate. There is no way to go straight to a particular, so if you want to find something to record in a week’s time, you need to scroll through an entire week’s worth of shows to find the one you want.
- The Recorded Shows navigation is slow and involves a lot of key presses. Deleting individual shows is very slow, and you often end up pressing the remote several times, thinking that the button press has not registered. Also if you want to delete a whole series, you are forced to delete each show in the series individually, which takes ages. There’s also a very dangerous “delete all” option that could accidentally be selected – and it will delete everything off your box!
- The Now and Next on-screen option is very poor. You can see what’s on now, or what’s on next, but not at the same time! It’s so bad it’s not even worth bothering with.
- There are numerous sound problems. If the picture freezes for any reason (a regular occurrence particularly with recorded shows), or you press pause while playing on-demand content, then the sound drops out completely. The only way to get it back is to fast forward or rewind a couple of times.
- Recorded shows are inaccessible to watch. Sometimes the recording corrupts, and the series/episode numbers show as ‘-1′. When this happens you can’t access the show to watch it.
- WiFi reach is quite poor. It’s certainly not as good at the old UPC modem I had. There are also problems where the wifi will sometimes stop working altogether (about once a month), which requires a box reboot to clear. Some devices also have problems connecting. It’s such a problem in my house that I’m planning to switch back to a separate wifi router.
- The horizon.tv website is useless. You’re meant to be able to stream all the channels from it (if you’re on UPC internet) but only some of the channels are available. The TV guide doesn’t work properly either – particularly the remote record function.
I’m very surprised, and disappointed, that none of these issues have been resolved in the past six months, and the UPC continue to strongly push the Horizon service knowing that it has problems.