Apprentice boss Lord Sugar today unveiled a £299 set-top box named YouView - dubbed the "future of British TV".
The device will stream catch-up TV from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and 5 to any television and let owners go back in the programme guide by seven days to find shows they missed.
It will go on sale at the end of this month and work using the Freeview platform when connected to an aerial socket in the house. It needs a broadband connection for Internet telly.
But while bosses hope YouView will revolutionise and simplify on-demand viewing, experts fear years of delays in its production have already left the device behind the curve while its high price is likely to put off many would-be impulse buyers hoping for an easy entry into catch-up.
On-demand TV can already be accessed through computers and internet connected televisions without the need for a separate set-top box or via an Xbox or PlayStation games console hooked up to a living room set.
The £99 Apple TV lets iPad owners mirror content from the tablet to a larger telly screen, while this month Sony launches the first device with Google TV built-in, allowing owners to download music, movies and TV shows in an instant.
The British-designed technology is housed in a box made by Korean firm Humax, complete with a hard drive to record on, and has been trialled in more than 2000 homes.
YouView Chairman Lord Sugar - who worked with Sky on creating set-top boxes for its original launch - said: "When one looks back I would like to be known as someone involved with a change in TV."
He added: "My ambition is it will replace all Freeview boxes. You only need this one box in your home."
YouView will also partner with BT and TalkTalk who will provide content for the box and offer it at a lower bundled price to their customers.
Olivier Wolf, a partner at telecoms consultancy Greenwich Consulting, said: "YouView has finally been unveiled this morning, but for many this was an underwhelming launch coming two years too late. Had this launched in 2010, the service would have been a clear success. Once dubbed the ‘next generation Freeview,’ YouView has been heavily backed by big-hitting industry players.
"But for all its bells and whistles, YouView has a lot of competition to overcome in the coming months. Today, YouView is launching to a very different market. Getting them to buy into a whole new service will be no mean-feat.
"The set-top boxes on show today look promising, and no doubt plenty of marketing budget will be plunged into making YouView a hit by the end of the year."
He added: "Is the launch too late? It may well have come just in the nick of time, as consumers confused by the various disparate services on show, look to go back to basics."
Like Freeview, YouView gives access to more than 100 digital TV and radio channels.
Dido Harding, CEO of TalkTalk, said: "YouView is innovative, easy-to-use and perfect for our customers. YouView from TalkTalk will give customers an extraordinary TV experience that is accessible and affordable for all."
Lord Sugar said the YouView platform will allow any brand to create their own TV channel and show off their content for a minimum of £50,000.