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To be blunt, Bush isn’t a brand known for particularly innovative products. But, come the end of the month, it’s the name you’ll see on the first cloud DVR to launch in the UK. Bush’s Digital TV Recorder is an affordable set-top box — arriving exclusively at Argos on August 30th for £100 — that lets you watch and record Freeview channels. What’s special about it, though, is the integration of ShowDrive, a service that takes those recordings and uploads them to the cloud so you can watch them wherever you want, and on basically any device.
The set-top box itself has two tuners (so you can watch one channel and record another simultaneously) and 16GB of internal storage. Add in an active ShowDrive subscription, however, and those 16 gigs become more of a local cache, with recordings subsequently uploaded to the cloud as fast as your internet connection can manage. Pay £2 per month, and you’ll get enough space for 35 hours of content, while £6 per month increases that to 350 hours. Discounts are also available if you spring for a year’s subscription upfront.
Once recordings have been uploaded to the ether, you can access them anywhere through the ShowDrive web app, which is compatible with computers and mobile devices. More than just a folder, the app presents your recordings in a visually rich UI with cover art, episode descriptions and the like. It’s searchable, offers recommendations, supports pause and resume across devices and will also point you towards on-demand platforms that feature more episodes of your favourite shows. If you’re on a shoddy hotel WiFi or slow 3G connection, then the quality of the stream will automatically scale to avoid any buffering downtime. Incidentally, the Bush box itself is said to upscale SD content to "near HD" when you’re watching TV at home.
We’re told other ShowDrive-ready set-top boxes, as well as TVs, will start popping up next year. For a while, though, Bush’s Digital TV Recorder will be the only DVR device of its kind available in the UK. That’s quite the claim considering the numerous pay-TV players we have over here, all with their own hardware. Many of them offer apps that let you stream TV and catch-up services on the move. Some also let you watch recordings on mobile devices over your home WiFi network, or download them to watch when you’re not. None of them, however, have yet to use cloud storage to allow you to access recordings from anywhere.