Can I buy a TV that will provide the "original" BBC red button?

TV madness

Standard Member
After my wifes Panasonic failed she purchased an 43" LG and after 18 months it is bound for the bin after a catalogue of faults.

We now need to buy a TV that is simple to use, we are both "in later life" and just want a TV to watch Freeview on and have access to the OLD version of the BBC red button.
By old I mean the version that on pressing the red button (on BBC1 and BBC News channel) gives you a listing to the right hand side side of the picture and not the version the LG would show. This being a lot of boxes to scan through and has no news list.

I was in a well know major electrical retailer today to try and find an answer and was told they couldn't test their display TV's as they were not connected to an aerial as they didn't have a TV licence, I walked out!!!

So can anyone tell me if its possible now days to buy a TV that will give my wife access to the BBC news listing that she has been use too for many years.
I would be obliged for any help or advice.
 

Dodgexander

Moderator
I'm not sure the TV has anything to do with the red-button service changing, its delivered the same to every TV.
More likely the changes have been done at the source, by the BBC.
You can see how often they've changed the service, including the recent attempt to try and shut the service down on Wikipedia:

As smart TVs evolved, they changed the service dramatically, usually instead of giving in-channel info it instead would launch a separate app...BBC News, or BBC Sport depending on the content. Perhaps this change is what you didn't like about the LG?

Only way around this I think would be to buy a non-smart model. That may limit you to a 32" nowadays, and even at that size today most TVs are smart.

If you want a larger model, perhaps the best idea to is to shop second hand for a non-smart model that still includes a Freeview tuner.
 

TV madness

Standard Member
I'm not sure the TV has anything to do with the red-button service changing, its delivered the same to every TV.
More likely the changes have been done at the source, by the BBC.
You can see how often they've changed the service, including the recent attempt to try and shut the service down on Wikipedia:

As smart TVs evolved, they changed the service dramatically, usually instead of giving in-channel info it instead would launch a separate app...BBC News, or BBC Sport depending on the content. Perhaps this change is what you didn't like about the LG?

Only way around this I think would be to buy a non-smart model. That may limit you to a 32" nowadays, and even at that size today most TVs are smart.

If you want a larger model, perhaps the best idea to is to shop second hand for a non-smart model that still includes a Freeview tuner.
From what I can find it seems the service is different on smart TV's however, our previous Panasonic was a smart one but had the original red button format, possibly a change over model
My wife uses this service to stay in contact with the outside world and even after 18 months with the LG is no nearer able to access a service that she can use. Even I cannot navigate the app to obtain the news, either sport, UK or world, in a listing format similar to the original one.
The LG TV has developed several faults since it was 14 months old that after almost 4 months of email dialogue with LG has now concluded it has a fault with the main board. Estimated repair cost is £200, two thirds of it's original purchase cost.
So as we will be replacing the TV (a 43") it was hoped that there maybe a manufacturer who makes TV's of that size that were either not smart or at least still used the old red button format rather than an app as used on smart platforms.
Seems from your reply Dodgexander that there is little to no chance of that happening. Leaving me with two other options.
Buying a new smart TV and connecting an old style freeview box to it (I have 3/4 of them) or maybe an even cheaper way would be to buy a monitor and connect one of the boxes to that. As I said we only use a TV to watch freeview channels and keep up with the outside world of news and sport.
Unless any one has a better idea.
 

TV madness

Standard Member
A tablet with the BBC News app connected to your WiFi?
Thanks for the suggestion JayCee, sadly from what I can see this is not much different from what the LG TV shows.
Without putting my wife down, she is close to 80, has never owned or used a mobile phone and when it comes to any sort of technology or change extremely resistive, she just cant get her head round it at all.
I can handle most of the modern tech but this BBC news thing even leaves me confused and baffled.
I feel a bit of anger on the subject TBH because I wonder how many other oldies are in the same position and are just cast adrift in a tide of constantly changing technology that for numerous reasons they cannot get to grips with. Seems the developers just dont care-rant over!!
 

mikej

Well-known Member
Here's another thread started by someone with the same issue. It looks to me that the age of the TV has a big bearing on this, with TVs from many different manufacturers in recent years now lacking the older-style red button text service you're after. If that is the case, then buying an older TV secondhand or connecting up an older, compatible set-top box may be the only solution, unfortunately.

 

TV madness

Standard Member
Here's another thread started by someone with the same issue. It looks to me that the age of the TV has a big bearing on this, with TVs from many different manufacturers in recent years now lacking the older-style red button text service you're after. If that is the case, then buying an older TV secondhand or connecting up an older, compatible set-top box may be the only solution, unfortunately.

Thanks for that link mikej:, sums my situation up completely, glad I am not the only one suffering this problem.
In my original post the retailer was also Curry's who didn't have the foggiest what I was talking about, hence their aerial excuse.
I have email JVC asking the question and also asked the BBC if they can guide or assist, explaining my issues.
If I could find out (if it is possible) how to access the same information on the later format I could teach my wife, over time and a few beers, how to work it for herself.
Will update if I get a suitable reply from the above and if the feedback is positive will post the info on oldbat's thread.
Thanks again for your guidance.
 

Dodgexander

Moderator
I think your best bet is buying a non-smart model, because then the TV will be forced to use the red button service via freeview, and not via the internet.

The problem is, you're relying on the beeb keeping it going. They already tried to shut it down once.

If you do go the route of using a separate freeview box, you may be able to find ones that use HDMI CEC, or at least have a remote you can program to auto-turn-on the TV when they are used. That way a single remote is all she'd need to use.

Have you considered going the smart display or smart speaker route? With a smart display you can ask it to display the news, or narrate it. With a smart speaker you can rely on narration.

Adding to the suggestion above, you can also get tablets custom designed to be easy to use now, like this:

The good thing about the tablet/smart route is they can also be used for communication, video and audio calls can be made by friends/family.
 

TV madness

Standard Member
I think your best bet is buying a non-smart model, because then the TV will be forced to use the red button service via freeview, and not via the internet.

The problem is, you're relying on the beeb keeping it going. They already tried to shut it down once.

If you do go the route of using a separate freeview box, you may be able to find ones that use HDMI CEC, or at least have a remote you can program to auto-turn-on the TV when they are used. That way a single remote is all she'd need to use.

Have you considered going the smart display or smart speaker route? With a smart display you can ask it to display the news, or narrate it. With a smart speaker you can rely on narration.

Adding to the suggestion above, you can also get tablets custom designed to be easy to use now, like this:

The good thing about the tablet/smart route is they can also be used for communication, video and audio calls can be made by friends/family.
From research it seems there are a few non-smart TV's but they all tend to be small screen sizes, cant find anything near a 43 inch.
On our lounge TV I used a Bush Freeview box with a hard drive to record odd bits and it works brilliantly am considering moving this onto my wife's bedroom TV, she is still suffering from the demise of our last VCR. It is simple to use and would cure this problem and easily allow her to record her programmes. You really don't want to know about the memory stick fiasco we have to go through at the moment :) .
TBH I think that is the best, if not the only, solution to the problem.
The Grandpad is an excellent idea but I think it would introduce more complications than it fixes, meaning me being called every 5/10 minutes instead of every hour, as it is at the moment, lol. But thank you for the suggestion, appreciated.
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
I feel a bit of anger on the subject TBH because I wonder how many other oldies are in the same position and are just cast adrift in a tide of constantly changing technology that for numerous reasons they cannot get to grips with. Seems the developers just dont care-rant over!!

The teletext-style service has long been obsolete. It's sluggish and limited and nobody growing up for a long time has been choosing it over the website or app. It's a dead end service with a shrinking number of users.

Such services were little used enough to become commercially unviable around the late 2000s and were discontinued at that point by most broadcasters. ITV shut theirs down in 2010.

That's when most of the country had stopped using it, the point where it had become clear that websites were the normal textual news source and teletext had a limited future in that form.

The BBC have cared enough to continue this service for over ten years since then.

They planned to shut it down in 2020 but that got changed to scaling it back after the pandemic hit, and a few accessibility issues were raised by the RNIB. I expect it to be wound up completely sooner rather than later though.


It sounds like in your case the extended support has been a curse rather than a blessing. Had it shut down ten or fifteen years ago you may have found it easier to adapt.
 

TV madness

Standard Member
As promised, this is the reply from the BBC:-

"A new smart TV would have Red Button + and not the old format of red button. If you purchase a TV that does not connect to the internet, it might give you the old Red Button service - however, you'd need to test this in the shop to be sure."

"You might also be able to disconnect your smart TV from the internet to be able to get the old Red Button, but there are no guarantees."


So it seems to confirm from their reply that the differing red button formats are the work of the TV manufacturers, not the BBC.
 

Dodgexander

Moderator
@TV madness I don't personally agree, I think its just the new format the BBC chose for the red-button service on their smart TVs. Instead of launching the service via traditional means (over the air broadcast) they instead use it to launch smart TV apps. The change would have been made either by the BBC, or its partners like Freeview Play who run the smart TV/firmware side of things nowadays with many smart TVs.

What they say is true though, if you use a model without smart TV, it will fall-back to the traditional one, just because those TVs have no other option. Its a shame that non-smart models are only sold at smaller sizes now, perhaps a DTV box is the way to go.
 

TV madness

Standard Member
@Dodgexander you could be right, especially with the BBC in the past considering stopping the Red Button service. As @EndlessWaves mentioned it is only a matter of time before the app version takes over.
I have, and still am, considering a set top Freeview box. On our lounge TV I use a Bush box that records etc and for me it's very useful. A similar box would help my wife considerably as she records soaps etc.
At the moment she is recording on another TV, to memory sticks (another very long story) and it would be much simpler for her (I hope) if she had a set top box that records. However the unknown is again what format the Red Button would have on new version of a box. If I could guarantee the red button was in the old format on such a box, that would fix the problem forever.
Maybe someone could recommend a box with a known old format Red Button on it.
 

Dodgexander

Moderator
I think it will just be the same as TVs, if the box is 'smart' with apps then it likely will not have the old red button version. I'd personally look at some of the Humax HDR boxes:

Avoid anything that says 'Freeview Play' and go for one of the Freeview HD ones. Second hand Humax boxes could also be an option too.
 

mikej

Well-known Member
If you were looking at older PVRs, my Humax HDR-Fox T2 PVR (from 2012) uses the old red button service you're after. The box still works surprisingly well, considering it's age - so much so that I put a new 2TB hard drive in mine when the old drive started to fail last year rather than buying a new machine, mainly because I read that Humax's subsequent PVRs weren't as good. The current Humax Aura wasn't released at the time - it's supposed to be much better, but will almost certainly use the newer red button format.

The red button service on the HDR-Fox T2 only seems to work when the red button prompt is displayed on a BBC channel - this normally appears within 20-30 seconds or so of switching over, but does sometimes seem a bit sporadic. Interestingly, this PVR does have an internet portal, but it's very limited (iPlayer and YouTube) and I've no idea if the apps still work as it's not currently connected (there's no wi-fi - it's ethernet only).

HDR-Fox T2 red button 1.jpg
HDR-Fox T2 red button news.jpg


If you do end up interested in this particular model, then let me know and I can tell you a bit more about it.
 

Dodgexander

Moderator
If you were looking at older PVRs, my Humax HDR-Fox T2 PVR (from 2012) uses the old red button service you're after. The box still works surprisingly well, considering it's age - so much so that I put a new 2TB hard drive in mine when the old drive started to fail last year rather than buying a new machine, mainly because I read that Humax's subsequent PVRs weren't as good. The current Humax Aura wasn't released at the time - it's supposed to be much better, but will almost certainly use the newer red button format.

The red button service on the HDR-Fox T2 only seems to work when the red button prompt is displayed on a BBC channel - this normally appears within 20-30 seconds or so of switching over, but does sometimes seem a bit sporadic. Interestingly, this PVR does have an internet portal, but it's very limited (iPlayer and YouTube) and I've no idea if the apps still work as it's not currently connected (there's no wi-fi - it's ethernet only).

View attachment 1541191 View attachment 1541192

If you do end up interested in this particular model, then let me know and I can tell you a bit more about it.
I used to own that box too, works pretty well but is slow nowadays. I think the new non-smart humax boxes should show the old red button service like this.
 

mikej

Well-known Member
I used to own that box too, works pretty well but is slow nowadays. I think the new non-smart humax boxes should show the old red button service like this.

Strangely, I don't actually find my box slow at all - at least not as slow as you would expect for an older device, as you say. Granted that I don't use it all the time but whenever I do fire it up to watch a recording, I don't have any real issues with responsiveness and poor responsiveness is a major bug-bear of mine ! There is a small delay when calling up the media library as the hard-drive whirs up, but channel changes are pretty-much instant and the EPG populates instantly too - far quicker than the EPG on my 2019 Panasonic OLED ! The Humax does get reset fairly regularly (thanks to the constant Freeview changes) and has had a new hard-drive recently, both of which may help I suppose.

I'm not sure if Humax make a non-smart PVR these days ? It looks like even their cheapest boxes have an online portal for the streaming services, but I'm not sure about red button behaviour - probably a question for the OP to ask on an owner's thread if he's interested and an in-store demo isn't possible.
 

Dodgexander

Moderator
I'm not sure if Humax make a non-smart PVR these days ? It looks like even their cheapest boxes have an online portal for the streaming services, but I'm not sure about red button behaviour - probably a question for the OP to ask on an owner's thread if he's interested and an in-store demo isn't possible.
They do traditional ones that are like the one you own. They do have an online portal, but its not advance smart TV like the ones they have using Freeview play or Android, so I believe it will have the old red button service (especially if its not connected to the internet).

I linked above to their website, you can see they still sell the range of HDR boxes today.
 

TV madness

Standard Member
@Dodgexander, you been reading my mind. I am at the moment considering a second hand Humax PVR-300T as it seems to suit my needs and its not expensive.
I have ordered a replacement 43" Tv that I collect on Monday, sadly a smart one. I am not going to connect it to the internet as it would just have unwanted complications. I maybe lucky by not connecting it and have the old red button format, we can live in hope :)
@mikej thanks for the info and the pictures you attached post 15 that is exactly what I am looking for so hope the above box will give me the same format fi the TV doesn't.
Thank you all for your input, has been very informative. Once TV, and if necessary, the Humax is up and running will feedback the results.
 

TV madness

Standard Member
New TV fitted with no internet connection, sadly without internet connection there is no reaction to the Red Button.
Have now ordered Humax PVR-9300T (sorry wrong number in previous post).
 

TV madness

Standard Member
Picked up an immaculate Humax PVR-9300T for a bargain £20. Not the best in the world but does what is needed and has, the now famous, Red Button-old style.
Have put the bush PVR on my wife's TV as it has a better interface and is simpler to use than the Humax.
Now just a couple of days tuition and peace should be restored to the household once again....
Thanks to everyone for their advice and input, very much appreciated.
 

shogun

Active Member
Don't know if this has been mentioned previously, where the old style red button news service can be found on Channel 700 (BBC Radio One) which works on certain branded TVs or set top Freeview or Youview boxes.
 

TV madness

Standard Member
Don't know if this has been mentioned previously, where the old style red button news service can be found on Channel 700 (BBC Radio One) which works on certain branded TVs or set top Freeview or Youview boxes.
Thanks for this @shogun , yes it works on all my non smart TV's but sadly not on the smart one. Worth a try though, thanks again.
 

speedy gonzalez

Standard Member
Any ideas for my mum in her 80's who has now got into Netflix. She has it on her laptop and on her newer bedroom tv. However, it's one of the Samsung's that you can't get get the old style red button service on. Tried various channels, removing the internet connection from it etc.
She doesn't seem too concerned about this as it's not her main tv. However I suspect the next request will be for a new main tv with netflix and old style red button.
I suspect this tv doesn't exist now so any ideas? Needs to be easy to operate. Ideally with a Netflix button on the remote and just the one remote for everything. Prefer something with a traditional style remote rather than Roku/Firestick. We set mum in law up with a Firestick and she just ends up just getting totally lost so want to try and avoid that for my mum.
 

TV madness

Standard Member
Any ideas for my mum in her 80's who has now got into Netflix. She has it on her laptop and on her newer bedroom tv. However, it's one of the Samsung's that you can't get get the old style red button service on. Tried various channels, removing the internet connection from it etc.
She doesn't seem too concerned about this as it's not her main tv. However I suspect the next request will be for a new main tv with netflix and old style red button.
I suspect this tv doesn't exist now so any ideas? Needs to be easy to operate. Ideally with a Netflix button on the remote and just the one remote for everything. Prefer something with a traditional style remote rather than Roku/Firestick. We set mum in law up with a Firestick and she just ends up just getting totally lost so want to try and avoid that for my mum.
Your issue is identical as that in my original post so any possible answers would be as above. I bought a second hand Humax PVR-9300T and using this like a freeveiw set top box got me the original red button. I had hoped to use the recording functions on it but it has sound issues on the record side that my research has since shown was a common problem. If you dont want to record but just have the original red button, an old Freeview set top box would do.
 

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